Q: Are you guys getting enough distance on Danny's kickoffs? They seem a little short.
Kirk Ferentz: Not consistently. It's distance and hang time. It hasn't been consistent enough.
Q: You guys seem to be an attacking kick coverage team not a lanes-break-down team. Does a short kickoff mess with that?
KF: Yeah, I'm trying to think what would be good about short kickoffs unless it's an onside kick. At some point there's a tradeoff with hang time and distance, but you want a good balance with both.
Q: How would you assess Bryan coming out of Saturday?
KF: He was fine, rusty but fine, physically fine. He has things to work on.
Q: So, he was not the problem Saturday?
KF: Nah, maybe he was. I hadn't thought about it. We just didn't execute fundamentally the way that you would hope after four games. You would have liked to have seen us be a little further along at that point. Not everybody, but…
Q: Did they throw some things at you that you might not have seen?
KF: A couple of things. I would like to say that was the reason, but I can't say it.
Q: You guys seem to have substituted on the defensive line less the last few weeks than maybe the first two. Have your starters just pulled away with their play?
KF: They're playing fairly well and they've been able to stay in there and stay fresh enough. So, we're just going to kind of go with it. We've rotated a little bit, but not a lot. And other than Adrian, they're still trying to get settled into their positions, too, so it's been good for them.
Q: Do they play a 3-4 on defense?
KF: Sometimes. They list it as a 3-4, but it's really not. The one guy stands up a lot, but he's like 6-foot-6 and 260, so he's not really fooling anybody. They play more like a 4-down team even though they list it as a three. The do mix in a little 3-4 in fairness to the description, but I wouldn't describe them as a 3-4 team.
Q: What did you guys recruit Paul (Chaney) to do?
KF: We thought he'd be a receiver/return guy. He played high school quarterback. If I was a high school coach, I would have one of my best athletes playing quarterback. That's what most people do. A lot of times you find good players at that position. Guys that are gong to be receivers, running backs or DBs.
KF: He knows some of the players, but it has been two years now for him. A lot of the guys have graduated. A lot of the guys were really young when he was there. It hasn't been huge from that standpoint. And systematically, there's really nothing that they do that's the same. If he had come off of Lloyd's staff and Lloyd was still there, we'd have a lot of insight to what they do. But, it didn't work that way.
Q: How do you coach against a team that seems to be depending on like what you guys did in 2004 with Tate? When a play breaks down, he keeps it going.
KF: It's tough. What you have to be careful of is leaving your responsibility area. A lot of Drew's big plays would be him running around and people would lose sight. I remember against Wisconsin when Clint was just wide open. The guys that are playing pass better play pass first until he breaks the line and then we'll worry about it. The guys that need to be coming are the underneath cover guys not the deep guys where you give up something really quick and easy.
Q: Does that put the pressure on your ends to keep that contain?
KF: Yeah, I think everybody has got to play their area. Otherwise, somebody else has to cover and one covers for another usually something bad happen with a good, alert quarterback.
Q: What has Tony been able to do so far?
KF: He's done some individual work. He did our pregame warmups the last couple of weeks. We've not let him do anything where someone might fall on him, group drills where guys are getting banged around. It's been weak and sore. You just don't want to run that risk.
Q: Does he wear a red jersey today?
KF: Nah, I think he'll be normal. Again, we'll be smart about where he is at, where we put him and try to keep him out of harm's way as much as possible. But I think we're going to try to integrate him back in this week. Our plan is to play him unless something blows up on us this week.
Q: You said you missed some of the packages with Tony out. I assume that's the double tight end stuff?
KF: Yeah, silly me, I allowed myself back in August to think, boy, we have a couple of veteran tackles that in January were really playing well. You guys have heard me talk about Reisner. Reisner is one of our more improved players. I was thinking, boy, we have two tackles and two tight ends that really are big time caliber guys. So, of course, it's been a fire drill. Bulaga has missed three games and Tony three or four, so I don't know. I'm probably to blame for all of this. You just don't allow yourself to think something might be good. Shame on me.
Q: That's pretty dark.
KF: That's how I think. Believe me, that's how I think. It's a sick world that I live in, isn't it?
Q: Can you talk about the double tight end?
KF: You guys have seen how we like to play. We like two tight end formations. And it's always nice to know that if one guy comes out the other guy can come in. We run our single tights too. I don't know why, but I've always had a leaning towards tight ends. It goes back to the ‘80s. We always had good tight ends. That's something I like personally. I like having good tackles, too. So much for both of those. It hasn't been a smooth road in either case.
Q: Do you still use the jumbo package when Tony gets back?
KF: We'll figure that out during the course of the week, but it's not like we will just line up in that either. We like out three-wide receiver sets. We like to be multiple. I don't think anything is going to change. It just gives us two good Big Ten players. Unlike last year, Allen is a guy out there holding even. When we put him on the field, we have a lot of confidence in him. It's nice to have players out there that you feel good about.
Q: You're going to kill off the jumbo, though?
KF: Not necessarily. He's earned a couple of plays. We might keep him out there for a while. Maybe we'll get him an 80 jersey one of these days. You never know.
Can he catch?
KF: Yeah, I wouldn't call him the fastest tight end in the Midwest, but he played basketball.
Q: You were saying Saturday that Derrell's limited playing time was kind of based on what happened during the week in practice. Are you concerned that midway through the season that it's still an issue?
KF: No, I think he's going to be fine. Yeah, I think he's going to be fine. I have a lot of confidence in him.
Q: How is he mentally?
KF: Good. Good. I tell you, he's improved. He hit a bump or two in the road last week, but he'll be fine.
Q: Are you surprised that fans are so obsessed with him even now?
KF: Nothing surprises me. And I didn't know they were or weren't, but nothing surprises me. So, I think we have a good group of guys at receiver right now and I think they're all doing a pretty nice job. I haven't given a lot of thought to it, but it's probably the deepest group we've had. I'm guessing. I haven't looked at numbers. I have a lot of confidence in all of those guys. I think Keenan Davis showed that he can play a little bit, too. Here we go down that dark road again. Maybe I should just shut up right now. We're doing pretty well at receiver and I probably screwed that up, too.
Q: You've had a lot of movement there week to week.
KF: But it hasn't been bad movement. It seems like whoever has been out there has played pretty good. Sandeman did some good things against Arizona. Marvin last week and Derrell has done some good things. I think we're doing OK.
Q: You don't see any instances there where it may have disrupted Rick or anything like that?
KF: To me, the injuries we had in camp probably would add to that. And that hasn't been as bad. We've had some guys in and out at the receiver position since the season got started, a day here, a day there. Sandeman barely went in camp. Derrell missed a huge chink of time. So, the cumulative thing, maybe. As long as those guys are out there, rotating them isn't a big deal. But they have to be out there every day running the routes and catching balls from him. I don't think Reisner or Morse have missed any time. Outside of that, it's been total chaos on offense. All of those things have affected our continuity. We're a couple of weeks behind, in my opinion, offensively. Hopefully we can catch up here. And that showed up the other day. We're just not quite there. The good news is that we did some good things last Saturday, too. Nobody's talking much about that, but there were a couple of positives. We had a couple of throws and catches that I haven't seen in a decade. That was kind of nice. If we ever tie it up, we might have an offensive team here before November. I hope.
Q: Does Marvin give you that option to for Rick to get the ball downfield?
KF: Yeah, and I think other guys can do that, too. But he made some nice catches. That was real nice. That one that Davis made on our bench, that was really nice, too. That was a big time play. It was good to see.
Q: Is it blocking with Keenan right now?
KF: Yeah, he's got to get it caught up there a little bit. He's a little young there. Marvin blocked well the other day.
Q: Did you recruit Forcier?
KF: If we did, I don't think we did at all. I think I remember hearing that his dad went to Michigan or is a Michigan fan.
Q: There's a website with all the letters he received and there's one in there from you guys.
KF: Yeah, we probably did. We send a lot of letters out, I know that. Somebody in our office probably looked at him and said this guy is good. I hope they did. We sent a letter to Matthews, too. He didn't answer.
Q: You don't try to recruit California much, though, do you?
KF: Nah, not really since Edgar and Ramon. That was more Chuck's area. Chuck had some ties out there with being a Ram. That was how we got out there. We're more Midwest, Texas, Florida. I say Midwest, really Big Ten boundaries. And that was back in '99. We've really pulled in since then. We continue to pull in. That's just kind of where we're at.
Q: Does having played at Penn State, even though it was on the road, kind of give you guys almost an advantage having played a night game?
KF: I don't know if it's an advantage. But we've played a night game already. So we know that drill. It was a great atmosphere over there. This is one we should enjoy more. And if we can do something good on the field, maybe we'll make it even better. It would be to our advantage to play well and keep our crowd into it. That's going to be a challenge. This is a good team we're going to be playing.
Q: Is Derrell one of those players, and excuse the pun, that needs a wake up call here and there?
KF: I don't know if it's a wakeup call. He might slip on a banana peel every now and then, but he's worked hard. He had a good spring. He's had a good camp. IN talking about the websites or the fan perception, it sounds like everybody has got this thing about a dog house. I remember reading something on Earl Weaver. He said he didn't have dog houses for players. A guy might get on my list for a while, but I'm not big on all that stuff. I'm all for helping guys improve. That's the business we're in. We're trying to teach people how to improve and do things. I think he's going to have a good season. We really feel good about him.
Q: So was last week more of a case of not practicing well?
KF: It was a couple of details, just a couple of little details. That's all. But I would grade him…I think he's had a good year so far. We're counting on him to help us out during these last seven games here. We have a lot of big football games coming up.
Q: This is kind of an off-the-charts question. I still get questions about Brinson and where he is at.
KF: Yeah, he's behind the two guys that run the ball right now. That's where he's at. First of all, he really hasn't done anything here. I don't mean that in a negative sense. But, really, he doesn't have a resume yet. He had an opportunity. He's been injured an awful lot this spring and in camp. He's another guy that basically missed most of camp. So, if you're not a guy that's done something and then you get hurt, it's going to be tough for him to catch up during the season. We're doing some work with him and all that, but we're pretty clear on who our one and two guys are right now. Hopefully like a lot of the younger guys, he'll just keep improving behind the scenes. He'll get his chance eventually. It's just a matter of him being ready.
Q: Are you still status quo with Mossbrucker?
KF: Yeah. Yeah. But we're playing to win right now. We told Trent that from Day 1. The idea is to redshirt him, but we want to win this year. It's my job as a head coach to make sure we're doing everything we possibly can to win each and every game. If Trent factors into that equation, then that's the way it's going to be.