Q: How different is the Northwestern Rivalry now verses when you got here in the 1980‘s?
Kirk Ferentz: There was no rivalry in the 1980's. I don't mean that in a bad way but those are the facts. I would compare that to where Wisconsin was in the late 1980's. the program had dropped down to a level where it wasn't a challenge. My first experience was going there in 1981 and we scored like 60 on them. I wasn't that competitive.
It was when I was gone, I watched a little bit of them, they beat Notre Dame in Soldier Field I think. It's one of the many great success stories in our league, which is one of the reasons I think the league is so good. So many great stories. They went to the Rose Bowl, and based on my experience in the Big Ten that was unheard of, like Iowa in the 1980's.
Q: Then you come back in 1999 and they are the team to beat.
KF: I remember the 1981 game and I remember 1999, vividly. A two-point play at the end of the game. that is when reality set in for me, ‘Whoa, this ain't 1981.'
Q: Is Sandeman's problem a shoulder?
KF: His shoulder is sore, but it's still a concussion issue. We met this morning and they are confident it will clear by the end of the week. We don't envision him being back, he may exercise this week but he can't right now.
Q: How is Adam Robinson's injury progressing?
KF: He is doing well.
Q: Is there a chance he could play before the end of the regular season?
KF: There is a chance for anything. We are not thinking about it right now.
Q: How do you keep running backs ready in the bull pen?
KF: Our bullpen is small right now.
Q: You have been here before, down to the 5th or 6th guy in 2004. How do you keep them ready to roll?
KF: We are down to two right now that are ready. That is where it is. We are trying to get Rogers warmed up a little bit. At this point, you hate to use him to patch up the situation. If we have to we have to. All of us are on board trying to win everything we can. I am hopeful we don't get to that point
Q: What are his thoughts on that?
KF: He is fine with it.
Q: Did you allow yourself at any point last year to think Shonn Greene would be your 2009 running back? It seemed like the writing was on the wall for him to make that jump, age wise?
KF: I was hoping he would be here, but I realized as he had continued success, I knew he had a decision to make. I am all for whatever decisions the players make, as long as they have good information. It has worked well for him, but it would be nice to have him.
Q: Is Trey dinged too?
KF: We had a lot of guys dinged up. that was a physical game too. We are hoping to have him.
Q: You said after the game that special teams took a dip this week?
KF: That was a tough first half.
Q: How do you shore things up. I know how much work you do in that area.
KF: That is like the turnover thing. Hopefully it's a one game deal. We all know we can play better special teams and we know we are capable of playing without turnovers. We were leading the league going into the game. I am hopeful we got it all out of our system. Now we can get back to normal operations.
Q: Daniel Murray has been kicking low, what do you do to change that?
KF: I have seen him do it well in games and practice, we just have to get back to that form.
Q: He was 6 of 6 before Saturday so he was doing something right.
KF: He is a good kicker. He has to put that behind him and get back to form.
Q: Who is the kicking coach?
KF: Lester Erb. He and I will visit this week. We just encourage him to get back to where he was.
Q: What do you tell kickers?
KF: The same thing I am telling you, you are a good kicker. With good players, it's concentration or confidence and sometimes both. There are no easy answers to any problem any player has. It gets back to good reps in practice and that carries over to the games.
Q: What did Ryan tell you he did on that punt, was that a whiff?
KF: I think he was trying to kill it. He was going into the wind and wanted to get that extra into it. I quit golf ten years ago, but I know what happens when you try to hit it hard. Same thing in baseball. That is what we go. That is so uncharacteristic. I am not laying away at night worrying about that stuff. We will be fine.
Q: When you saw film of what Rick saw on those deep posts, were those plays there?
KF: It was there. the ball hung a few times. Maybe we shouldn't have thrown them into the wind, perhaps that was asking for trouble. maybe our timing wasn't as good. He made some of those same throws in the fourth quarter. We learn and move on. There are some others things that could have helped out, but one was a bad read, but even there it's possible to make the completion, but better to go somewhere else.
Q: What did you think of DJK's reaction on a couple of those interceptions?
KF: That is part of it. Derrell is still learning too. He more than made up for what he might have missed. He had some great blocks and did well in the receiving game. It's a team effort. It didn't have to be as catastrophic, but we will all learn.
Q: Do you do that, weigh plusses and minuses and average things out?
KF: Sure. We are all learning and improving. I made the worst call of the day on that punt return. That was awful. I am not going to go jump off a bridge, I will try not to do it again.
Q: What were your thoughts right after that call?
KF: Aww crap. I thought I lost the game for us, frankly. I might have been the happiest guy in the locker room since I didn't cost us the game, but it could have. Just a stupid thing.
Q: Who else is back there on punt returns. Amari, Keenan…
KF: Those two guys. Anyone else you want to throw in there? Sash? Throw him on there.
KF: No, we are not going to put him out there. And if its 14-7 with :37 seconds left, there will not be anyone back there and we will let the ball roll.
Q: Clayborn is a good punt returner.
KF: We just have to get someone to catch it for him. He is better at taking the ball off the ground. Maybe we could lateral for him.
Q: Will you politic for your team if the time is right?
KF: If it's appropriate, but it's not right now. We are 9-0, we have three games to go. Three tough games. It's so far away in my mind. I am just going off experience. I really think that it seems like other than one year, there has not been controversy. Sometimes I wonder why people get so stoked up. It seems to work out at the end. The debate is if everyone has one loss. If everyone has one loss, there will be a debate then.
Q: Have you been insulated from hawk bashing?
KF: I only know there is bashing because people tell me. I tried to watch Saturday night and I couldn't stay away, I do get a kick out of Mark May and Lou Holtz, that is good entertainment. I enjoy it. Someone said Bradshaw said something, but he is my guy. Pittsburgh Steelers. My wife went to hear him in Des Moines a month ago. I love him on Fox. I didn't know they talked college on that show. Bradshaw can say whatever he wants, he is my guy. I love Terry Bradshaw I think he is great.
Q: Then on the Mike and Mike show yesterday….
KF: They are Notre Damers, what do you expect?
Q: Greenberg went to Northwestern.
KF: That makes it worse, Notre Dame and Northwestern, what do you expect from that show. If you want to talk talk shows, I am Tony Bruno all the way
Q: Where you find him now?
KF: 9 at night. Is it Fox? I remember going to the wrestling tournaments one year, and he was in contract negotiations and he opened it up to his callers as to what he should be if radio didn't work out One guy said he should be a baker, driving a truck early in the morning. Tony is my guy. He is funny.
Q: Any calls from Jim Rome?
KF: My radio doesn't get that show. I think he forgot who I was.
Q: He hasn't forgotten you.
KF: Oh, really? (laughs)
Q: Do you keep track who rips you?
KF: No, but It makes it fun.
Q: Do you keep a list?
KF: No, not really.
Q: Do players embrace that this year, this identity?
KF: We haven't talked about it but they are aware. We all knew we were underdogs going to Wisconsin. That was interesting. I am not sure what those guys talk about.
Q: You have referred to your classes and players in the past as a collection of muts. Do you think this type of disrespect and mantra fits a group of players like this?
KF: Most of our teams that have done well, that is what we are. Including me, none of us have been first choices. It makes it fun. It's fun to overcome odds, I think. I think our guys embrace that. No matter where we are ranked, we are still climbing uphill, and that is our team. It's ok.
Q: Not sorry for being lucky?
KF: Our good teams have been pretty lucky
Q: Most are.
KF: Yes, they are. Good teams are lucky.
Q: Edds mentioned that one, too.
KF: Someone referenced our turnovers as being lucky somewhere along the road. Whatever.
Q: It gives you something to say to them.
Q: Is this team giving you ulcers at all?
KF: Saturday was close. that was a tough one. We really defied the formula. We couldn't run in 2004 and still one, but to survive turnovers is asking for trouble. You throw in the shanked punt, that might as well be a turnover. That is a credit to our defense. I thought the offense did a great job in the redzone the other day and our defense came out and not moaning or crying or worrying about things, just playing after turnovers. They do a great job with that. I would like to not try that formula.
Q: At some point you might get ahead and lead for an entire game.
KF: We wouldn't know how to act if that happens, but I hope we get there.
Q: Through your first 132 games, you have three fewer wins than Hayden did in his first 132 games. What does that mean to you?
KF: It's like our season right now, I never would think about that. After our first 20 games, things have been pretty good. We had a six game spell that sits in your stomach, but outside of that, I think things have been good. I haven't watched the scorecard too much, but I am aware of that six game set and the first 20. But the first 20, that is a part of the process. Once we got a win, a good win, not that the Michigan State win wasn't good, but we were dominated and had a kick return and a screen.
Q: Is that another Thanksgiving week thought?
KF: Maybe. If there is something good there we will look at that too. If we can be in the same ballpark as what he did, that is a good thing.