OB Notebook: Coach Tired of Bulaga NFL Talk

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz showed some signs of being annoyed when asked about Bryan Bulaga deciding between college and the NFL. The coach also talked about the health of his running backs, shuffling on the offensive line and more after Sunday's practice.

MIAMI - Kirk Ferentz seemed a touch annoyed on Sunday afternoon when he was asked about Bryan Bulaga going to the NFL.

The question - What do you tell guys like that who are thinking about turning pro?

The answer - Again, we've covered this territory about 6,000 times already.

The Iowa coach went on to answer the question. Bulaga said a day earlier that he would have an announcement after Tuesday's Orange Bowl.

"We try to give them the most accurate information we can," Ferentz said. "We've probably surveyed 8-10 National Football League teams and given (Bulaga) that feedback that we've received. What he needs to do is just kind of weight it all out and understand that there are no guarantees no matter what he does. Ultimately, he has to do what's best for him. That's true of everybody. All we ask of guys are to be as good of team members as they can. Whenever it comes time for them to leave, we wish everybody the best."

Conversations with Bulaga on Saturday and Ferentz's tone a day later have me putting the chances of the left tackle coming back to school next year at 10 percent.

Bulaga is a true junior with a year of college eligibility remaining. He's being projected by some analysts as a first-rounder in April's draft.

OFFENSIVE LINE SHUFFLE: Iowa has moved guys around on the offensive line throughout practices down here. The moves have included Kyle Calloway and Riley Reiff alternating at RT and G.

When asked what his front five would look like on Tuesday, Ferentz played it coy.

"Hopefully, good.," the coach said chuckling.

Asked if it will be the same lineup as we saw in the season finale against Minnesota in November with Calloway at RT and Reiff at LG, Ferentz said: "I can't even remember that far back. We'll see what happens. We'll go with the guys that have been practicing well."

Iowa finished the season with Bulaga at LT, Reiff at LG, Rafael Eubanks at C, Julian Vandervelde at RG and Calloway at RT. First-Team all-Big Ten performer Dace Richardson missed the last four games of the season with a broken leg, but will return on Tuesday.

"It gives us a sixth man that we feel pretty good about," Ferentz said. "We haven't talked about that yet, but we will (Sunday night) and (Monday). I'm sure we'll have some kind of rotation going, but we'll get Dace in the game.

"He's practiced well. Two and a half, three weeks ago, I wasn't sure what was going to happen. He's continually climbing the mountain. He's a little sore after workouts, but he seems fine. We'll get him in there. That's good."

If I were a betting man, I think the starting line from left to right in the Orange Bowl will look like this: Bulaga, Richardson, Eubanks, Calloway and Reiff.

Ferentz complimented Reiff quite a bit on Sunday. The freshman wasn't expected to play much of a role this season, but was forced into action with injuries to Bulaga and Richardson.

"I think Reilly has played as well as any lineman on our football team, quite frankly, offensive linemen.," the coach said. "He really had a tremendous season. I was scared to death up in Ames when he had to throw him in there. I think we had about three days to know that he was going to be playing that day. He went in and competed as hard as he could. A week or two later we're up in State College and he's doing the same thing.

"This guy has just played well all season long. He's done it very quietly but not unappreciated by the staff."

Maybe that's good enough to get Reiff a start at RT after opening games at LT and LG this season.

"We may play him out there," Ferentz said of Tuesday‘s game. "We may play Kyle. The good news is that we have three guys we feel pretty good about at tackle. Dace is off that duty right now. But we have three guys that can play good tackle for us and we have three guys at guard right now we feel pretty comfortable with. Hopefully, that's a good situation. "

BANGED UP BACKFIELD: Iowa has not experienced much luck with keeping running backs healthy this year. The Hawkeyes lost starter Jewell Hampton for the season before it started.

Freshmen Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher have carried most of the load in ‘09, but they've missed action and ended the season battered. They've practiced in preparation for the Orange Bowl, but Ferentz didn't sound overly optimistic that he would have both for the game.

"We haven't made it yet," he said. "I'm guessing we're like, what, 50 hours away or something like that from game time. We're hoping that we can get both guys into the game healthy.

"I thought we were there at Ohio State. It didn't work out. But that's one of our goals, to get two running backs into the game healthy. We'll see what happens. "

Ferentz said that both players have taken contact in practice. Robinson went to the practice field with a red jersey on (worn by players not allowed to be hit) and left the workout with a black jersey on Sunday.

"He's fine," Ferentz said.


-Ferentz said he's not concerned about Rick Stanzi's ability to move around. The quarterback will see his first action since Oct. 24, when he went down with a severe ankle sprain.

"He's been practicing for a couple of weeks," Ferentz said. "We've done a lot of high-tempo stuff. He looks absolutely fine. I'm not worried about him."

-Ferentz said that everyone is academically eligible for the bowl game.

"We're good to go," the coach said. "I know that officially now. I can say officially with the smile on my face good to go and we'll get back at that about two weeks from now and be fine.

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