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October 22, 2016

Kirk Ferentz

Iowa City, Iowa

Wisconsin - 17, Iowa - 9

COACH FERENTZ: So just a really hard-fought, tough physical football game, like all of us anticipated. Thought our guys really competed hard. We came up with some big plays that would have been helpful, were helpful, would have been.

All in all, I just think our effort, our toughness was good. We have to develop a knack of becoming a little bit more opportunistic, work on the fine lines. There's always a fine line. Some plays we left out there today certainly didn't help our cause or momentum in the game, that type of thing. From that standpoint, some of those plays are disappointing.

We're looking at a two-week break right now, two weeks until our next game. How we handle the bye week is going to be really important.

A couple things on the list are getting some guys rested up a little bit, getting them healthy, then other guys moving forward and see if we can't get more guys to help and contribute a little bit as we go forward.

We still have four games in front of us. Certainly disappointing to come up short today against a very good Wisconsin team. Our hats are off to them. We'll move on from that and start it up again Monday and see if we can't move our team forward, see what we can do to improve, brace up and get ready for the four-week stretch in front of us. I think we have a good opportunity, but we're going to have to improve certainly.

Last thing. I want to compliment the fans. Great crowd today. Certainly appreciate them being their, their enthusiasm. A great environment. Hats off to Wisconsin.

Q. When you mention 'opportunistic'?
COACH FERENTZ: I'm thinking about everything, quite frankly. We missed a field goal, had a 58-yard punt opportunity to get them backed up. We made some plays there. I think we had a couple good ones there, too. But making those things...

We played hard on defense, but there's still some things we can do better there. We missed too many tackles today. Just things we can do to make it a little bit harder on our opponent. They're small things, but they really add up in significant ways if you can do it well enough.

Q. Do you think overall your rush defense was good?
COACH FERENTZ: Up until when he popped out on the left side there at the end. I think we had them about three yards a carry at that point. We have a lot of respect for their offensive team. He's an excellent back. They always seem to have one.

We competed hard and did a pretty good job of keeping him under control. Then he popped that one at the end.

Q. How frustrating is it in a game like this where it's close, both teams are kind of equal, but it's a waiting game wondering when that big play is going to come for either team?
COACH FERENTZ: They did a good job. They just kept swinging through. They didn't get rattled at all. Some ways it's like last year's game, give-and-take in there. Some plays, the fumble in the end zone there that really helped turn things a little bit.

Anytime you lose, it's frustrating, because unless you play a perfect game, which is impossible to do. So there's always things to work on, always things you look back at and wish you could have done a little bit cleaner. Certainly the opposition had something to do with that.

Q. This will sound like second-guessing. It's 14-6, you go for the field goal. You're still going to need a touchdown. What was the thought process there?
COACH FERENTZ: You have to score twice. It gets down to that. Somehow, some way you're going to have to score twice.

If there's a little bit less, fourth-and-two, something like that, we probably would have gone for the touchdown.

Q. 14-6, if you get the touchdown and the two-point conversion, you have a tied ballgame.
COACH FERENTZ: The situation we were in, we felt that was the best play.

Fourth-and-five against these guys is not easy, especially down there in the red zone. We didn't see that as a high-probability play. We're going to have to get back there again. Kind of the thinking there.

Q. Anything specific about your offense today that stood out?
COACH FERENTZ: We'll look at everything certainly. They made it tough for us to run the football today. We anticipated that. But our fits didn't always look quite like what you want. We never really got into a rhythm there.

We'll look at it. But I don't think that's the entire answer. I think there's some little things we're going to have to do better.

Q. Anything that can help your passing at this point?
COACH FERENTZ: I think we had a couple close calls that would have helped us. Kind of bang-bang type plays where we're just a little bit off. Somehow, some way we're going to have to push that over the top.

I think the people involved are capable. It's such a fine line. It's just us growing a little bit more, maybe getting our timing down a little bit better. We'll continue to look at ways to maybe free some guys up or find some easier throws.

But ultimately I think we've just got to execute better. That's what we'll work hard on this next two-week period.

Q. What's the most important thing for you to accomplish during the bye week?
COACH FERENTZ: It's kind of on a couple levels. The guys that have been playing a lot of snaps, we track those like everybody would. A fair amount of those guys are hurt. George Kittle today really gutted it up. First time he really did anything strenuous was Thursday this week during his off day. That was without us, but he was doing some things out there with the medical staff. He practiced yesterday.

But Cole Croston as you might imagine is probably a little sore right now. Boone Myers wasn't out there. We got to get those guys where they can come down the stretch for the last month. That's one thing.

The guys that can practice, are able to practice, we need to keep pushing forward, just get better on some of those fundamental things that will make a big difference if we can do a little bit better.

Then we have a bunch of guys that haven't played much that are probably capable of helping us. Hopefully we can push them forward this week as well, see if there isn't somebody else that can help out when somebody isn't able to go, whether it be Noah Fant comes to mind. He's still a young guy, but I think he's progressed. This will be a big opportunity for him to keep pushing forward.

Q. Surprised they overruled the catch?
COACH FERENTZ: Not totally. I thought the crew worked a really good game. They reviewed it and I'm sure they saw something there. Tough, tough call.

Q. Are the guys you have who are able to play capable of executing more aggressively?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, I think we can get better. That's how I look at it. That's really what our goal is the next two weeks, see how much we can keep pushing forward. We've gotten better in a lot of areas, in my opinion, over the last three weeks. We've made progress as a football team this last three weeks. We came up short today. But I think we were a much better team than we were three weeks ago.

We'll keep pushing. I'm not saying it's the same as, but we were sitting at the break of 2008 at 5-3, 3-3 at one point. The one thing I always loved about that team is the way they improved. It's all about your attitude, your work ethic, little detail things.

Q. It looked like you had trouble getting your passing game going?
COACH FERENTZ: I think it a combination of everything. That's part of it. There's no question about that. Open quick enough, or wide open, that type of thing. Getting guys wide open against a good team is really difficult. Getting open quick enough and then still having the opportunity to get the ball in there.

We're going to just keep banging away. We'll get there.

Q. Is it about having confidence in their ability if they don't have that great separation?
COACH FERENTZ: I mean, tight windows, and quick-hitting plays. We kind of figured this was going to be that kind of game, both in the run and pass game. It's all about precision. It's all about execution.

The other part is about getting a little momentum going. We had a couple opportunities I thought today in the passing game where we just couldn't quite make the play. Had we, you don't know how it's going to unfold in areas, too.

It's like everything, it's just usually a fine line. The only answer I know is you just keep hitting on the door, and hopefully the thing is going to open at some point. We're going to keep doing that.

Q. Those that are injured, do you expect them to be healthy following the bye week?
COACH FERENTZ: Well, I hope so. Two of them played today. They don't have broken legs, that's the good news. Fractures, those types of things.

I'm optimistic. I can't guarantee it, but all those guys should be feeling a little bit better as we move forward. Nathan got a sprained ankle today on the quarterback sneak. We can't stop a quarterback sneak without getting an injury. It's almost comical in some ways. Injuries are weird that way. You just never know.

Can't say enough about him gutting it up and going back out there. Same thing with George, same thing with Cole. Other guys, too, that we're not talking about. Both teams have guys that are not at full speed. That's one of the great things about this game, it's a chance to go out there and compete a little bit.

That's why as a coach I have so much admiration for the guys that compete out there. They do a heck of a job. Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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