People might be surprised to know that you thought the Patriot's going for it on 4th and 2 was the right call. Why did you like it?
Kirk Ferentz: I did see the drive before it. It didn't take the Colts long to get down the field. I am sure that was in his mind; I have not talked with him about it. you had two quarterbacks on the field that can do anything.
In a similar situation, he did something against Atlanta with 6 minutes to go in the game earlier in the year. He has confidence in his offensive football team, and for good reason. If it would have worked, it would be a great call. But it didn't and people wonder why. All of the players were in support of it. That is how they think.
What yard line were you looking to get to Saturday before you would have tried to move the ball down the field?
KF: I would like to get it over the 40 for sure. That was our thinking. If we had popped that first run, or if they shanked it....we were not counting on a punt return; it's hard to find one of those on tape this year. The guy had relatively shanked one earlier, and if you get over the 40 its more realistic.
Was there any debate with the staff?
KF: Not really. I told the guys what I was thinking and they were there.
Do you give consideration to how the players will react to decisions like that?
KF: Yeah, I think the about the players all the time but I also think about winning the game. If you ask an offensive player, go for it. Especially a receiver. If we throw it to this side, then it should be the other side. That is how you want them thinking. I have no problem with that one.
This sort of questioning is something you expect right, in this profession?
KF: I am sure we got second guessed against Northwestern for some things, too. Typically when you lose you get second guessed, and when you win, you don't get second guessed as much.
You seem to deal with the 2nd guessing well.
KF: It really doesn't affect me (grunt) It hasn't change my life.
What is wrong with Jeremiha Hunter?
KF" He has an ankle. He tried to go in the second half and played one play.
High ankle sprain?
KF: I wouldn't say that, because he has a chance this week.
Can Adam Robinson get healthier?
KF: I think so. He went through the hardest possible thing he could have on Saturday. As long as someone doesn't fall on him this week, and no one will tackle him in practice. We never tackle during the week other than our defense doing it in structured situations.
Do you dial down the contact in practice this time of year?
KF: We have a second half routine and we are into that. We are trying to be smart about guys.
Rick had four straight picks vs Indiana, and after seeing James now, does Rick have to be careful? Is there a shorter hook?
KF: I could answer that better after this week's game. We are still early in the game. We have seen Stanzi 20+ games and James once. There is a lot of football left. I am thinking about other things now.
Is there more competition now, since you have more evidence?
KF: Stanzi has a pretty good record. I am not thinking about those things. James and John are our quarterbacks this week.
Have you thought about the bowls?
KF: No. We are going to one. Someone said that a while ago. If we win Saturday, we will go to a better one than if we lose, probably.
What does 10 wins mean?
KF: That is significant. That is significant. I am thinking about that. 11 is more significant, but you can't get to there you don't get 10.
Earlier when I asked when you start thinking of late game decisions, I am curious how many chess moves down the line you are thinking Did you start thinking about it when Coach Tressel began playing for the punt?
KF: The fist thing was how were they going to play the situation. If we had known they were going to run the ball we would have used our timeouts, but I don't want to give them a chance to convert on third down, then it was a matter of where we got the ball. It's similar to a team scoring and seeing where the team runs the ball back, before the half. If you run one out to the 40, you kick it in and go. But its different before the half because the game is not on the line.
Is there such a thing as a moral victory?
KF: I am not into moral victories, but I am into how we play. The team played so hard and competed so well; both teams did. it was a great game, it stinks that we lost, but it was a great college football game. If you like college football, the environment was great, I thought the Penn State game was great, too. In February I will look back and say it was a special year, we were in some great environments and competed against some good teams. I walked away feeling that way but I also walked away disappointed because we lost. When you line up and play, there are no guarantees you will win even if you play well. You have to handle that and move on.
In a setting like that, you have been around game a long time, do you ever stop and take notice of where you are?
KF: Yes. I love football and I am very fortunate. I was in Ohio Stadium, or at Penn State, or Kinnick. Great college environments. I think our players feel that way. It's a lot better than doing other things we could have been doing that day.
Will you appreciate this season more due to all injuries you have had to overcome?
KF: I have no idea what will happen these next two games, but to this point, I don't know what else we could have expected from this team. They have handled every bump in the road well. I hope we finish well. It would be nice to win, but I want to finish out in a representative way to how we have been playing.
Is that a tough game to bounce back from?
KF: They are all tough, and it's tough to move on from a win sometime. That is a part of the challenge of football. But our team has responded well week in and week out. I am expecting that but I am not taking it for granted.
Do you go into the game thinking Wegher was going to go?
KF: Yeah, I thought he was Ok. But then he couldn't go. We tried to get him ready in the locker room and he was riding a bike.
Holly Rowe really broke the news to you that he wasn't in warmups?
KF: Yeah. I would have found out. (laughs) But it was bang-bang. He was dressed and ready to go and just couldn't do it. The only light moment I had during the game, every time I walked by Wade Leppert, on the bench, it looked like we had a guy that was almost comatose on our bench. He was trying not to blow lunch. He looked awful. We would score or they would score and he would not make any reaction. But he was on the kick return team when we broke that one, and he did his job. He was the first guy to get the flu at Iowa State. Lucky guy, he got it twice.
Was that good for your kickoff return coach to get that monkey off your back?
KF: Lester Erb, yes. The last two kick returns we have had for touchdowns, we have lost the game. I think Brian has seen three returned in the Orange Bowl, all of them were losses. Atlanta and Tim Dwight, CJ Jones and Hester for the Bears. Next time we will take a knee on the one.
You said in August that one characteristic about Adam Robinson that stood out to you was toughness. What had he shown you prior to then?
KF: Last year in scrimmages. A couple moments where he showed up. He ran the ball up in there and didn't know what he was doing, but there were a few flashes where you thought he might have something to him. He was on the scout team and he was not going to move past Shonn or Hampton. For us to have success, we have to have guys emerge like that. When he got his opportunity he ran with it this year. He has always had a pleasant demeanor. Who wants to be around a sourpuss all of the time?
You are not social media guy, but Trey Stross felt compelled to post a message on his facebook account, apologizing to fans for his play.
KF: I wouldn't recommend that. I don't understand the phenomenon quite frankly. I dont know why people go on that. But I also understand I am 54 and not 20
He was thanking people and apologizing.
KF: I don't see any benefit of going on that stuff. But we live in America.
Is this the earliest your name has been attached to another job?
KF: I don't know who attached it. I heard that yesterday. I read this morning that Bob Stoops is interested. So call Oklahoma. I didn't see anyone say they talked with Bob about it. Maybe his barber says he is interested. Could you see me in a pep rally? Have you ever thought about that? Penn State does them. Could you see me at a pep rally (makes snoring sounds). "Filling in for Coach Ferentz today....."
Norm could fill in for you.
KF: That might work. OK, I can see this conversation is taking a rapid turn. (laughs)