Iowa Insight Bowl Prep Post-Practice: Day I

The Hawkeyes got on the practice field at Chaparral High School for the first time Friday in preparation for the Insight Bowl against Oklahoma, and head coach Kirk Ferentz and some players met with the media afterwards.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz

Q: How did practice go today?

A: I think OK. It was a start. It's the first time we've been outdoors for quite a while. We've got work to do, but that's about how it usually is the first time out.

Q: Did you split up the time at running back?

A: We'll just keep splitting it up. Basically, whoever's got two legs underneath him is going to help us out.

Q: Can you talk about the opportunity to coach against Bob Stoops?

A: Unfortunately, I've had a chance to be on the other sideline from a lot of guys either that played at Iowa or worked at Iowa or both in some cases, and this is one more of those opportunities. A great article in The Wall Street Journal, somebody put it on my desk, talking about Coach (Hayden) Fry's family tree. Bob's just done an outstanding job. Oklahoma was struggling there for a little bit, and he got there 13 years ago and just did a fantastic job right off the bat. He's done a wonderful job with the program overall. This is their 13th bowl game (under Stoops), I think. They're well-coached, they've got a very talented team, but they're well-coached top to bottom.

Q: When you look at tape of Oklahoma, what are some matchups that concern you?

A: Basically all of them. They're pretty good at every position. They've got good players up and down the board. If you start on offense, the first thing is the tempo of their offense. I don't know where it is this year, but I know last year they led the country (in) plays per game. They make a ton of yards, a ton of points, so they're very prolific that way. The pace is something that's certainly going to test us. Defensively, just a very athletic group, very aggressive. They're very well-coached, very multiple. We're fortunate that we've got a lot of time. We're going to need it, too, because they do a lot of things.

Q: How fast is Oklahoma?

A: Real fast, everywhere, including their linemen.

Q: Is Marcus (Coker's) suspension just for the bowl?

A: The statement we made the other day. We can ask it a thousand different ways, I'll give you the same answer. We made a statement: violation of the code of conduct. That's where it's at…his situation, the coaching situation, all those things, we'll turn our sights to that in January.

Q: Are you going to practice on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

A: We'll practice tomorrow and then have a nice function for everybody that made the trip, a team dinner in the hotel. So it'll be families and all of the support staff members who came down…Christmas Day actually times up with a Monday of game week, so it's kind of a players' day off. They'll lift that morning, and then have the rest of the day to themselves. They all voted to have the team dinner on (Christmas) Eve instead of Christmas Day.

Q: Can you talk about your philosophy of arriving earlier than Oklahoma for the game?

A: I'm not sure what their finals schedule is like. I know we just finished up ours last Friday. I excused our seniors because we had, I think, 12 guys graduate. So Sunday was our first day to be together as a team, really without interruption…We really need to do it this way. I think it's really important for us to get outdoors too. We haven't been outdoors since November. We need to get this out of our system a little bit. It's a transition. It's not a big thing, but it is a transition. I like to let the guys just be in the town that we're going to be in, too, and they can kind of get their curiosity and take care of that early, and then we can get down to the game.

Wide Receiver Marvin McNutt, Jr.

Q: Have things changed without Marcus (Coker)?

A: Not at all. It's just like somebody getting injured. You know you've got to deal with it and move on.

Q: Is it nice to get outdoors and practice a little bit?

A: It's definitely a great feeling. It's refreshing.

Q: What have you seen from Oklahoma's defense?

A: They have a lot of great athletes out there, and they play well together. When they're doing things right, they look very well.

Q: Do you want to get the Nebraska game out of your system?

A: That's already out of there. It's just more about my last game with these guys. It's the last time I get to come out and put on the jersey. So it's definitely something that you want to go out and play as hard as you can."

Linebacker Tyler Nielsen

Q: Does the defense have added motivation in Norm Parker's last game?

A: Yeah, there definitely is. It's important to the whole coaching staff. It's important to everybody that's involved with Iowa football to come out and have a strong performance in our last game with him as our coach. It does give us a little extra boost.

Q: What's the key to getting focused over the next eight or nine days?

A: We've just got to zero in. Coach Ferentz is good at giving us some free time out here on the bowl trips. We've really got to focus when the time comes.

Q: How was the first practice outdoors?

A: I was just real excited to get outside. We haven't been on a grass field for I don't know how long. It's definitely nice to get outdoors and breathe in some fresh air.

Quarterback James Vandenberg

Q: (Inaudible)

A: I think everybody was pretty excited to get out in the 60-degree weather. It's sunny. It's a perfect day to practice.

Q: How did practice go today?

A: I think it went well. We took another step. It's a long process, bowl prep is. It started a while ago, and you've got to keep progressing. We're getting down to that homestretch and we've still got some workdays left.

Q: Does the offense still have a lot of weapons without Marcus Coker?

A: We're going to worry about the guys who are here, and we have plenty of guys who that can step up and fill that spot. We have all the confidence in the world that they can do that."

Q: It's next man in?

A: Exactly. That's what you've got to know at every position. Guys can go down on any play or on any injury or for any reason. The next guy's got to be ready to go, and this a great instance for that to happen.

Q: What about Oklahoma's defense?

A: Obviously, they're a very talented team, a lot of team speed and they run around and they make a lot of plays. They're well-coached with good players. It's going to be tough. They don't give up the big plays, so you have to be really sharp on offense.

Q: Is the passing game the best foot forward for the team right now?

A: No. You've still got to have balance. We have plenty of running backs that can step in and do a good job for us in the run game, and our ‘O' line's been doing a good job making creases for our guys all year. So we still need to have balance and that's what we're looking forward to doing.

Defensive tackle Mike Daniels

Q: Is there added motivation for this defense in Norm Parker's last game?

A: Coach Parker's very selfless. This is not about him. He said it's about us. But we definitely have to perform our best. Our seniors are going out with him. It's just an honor to be his last class of defensive guys.

Q: How did practice go today?

A: Today went well. Guys were moving around pretty well. It probably was that sun getting guys feeling a little good, so that's always a positive, and we'll look forward to tomorrow's practice as well.

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