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November 20, 2021

Kirk Ferentz

Iowa City, Iowa, USA

Press Conference

Iowa 33, Illinois 23

Q. Well, Coach, Big 10 football in November. Any other better way to explain this?

KIRK FERENTZ: That's a really good start. And it almost felt a little bit like the '15 game against these guys in some ways. That wasn't easy either. Some parallels there.

But, yeah, just thrilled to get the victory. Guys hung up there. And we cleaned some things up as the game went on. So to come away with a victory, we're just really thrilled and proud of our guys for getting off the mat after those two straight losses. To win three straight, that's even better.

Q. Indeed. The Hawks aren't trailing often, Kirk. Pick a season. It doesn't happen often. And Illinois threw the first punch and drove it down the field.

Obviously, you weren't planning on two starting defensive backs out of the game, including Jack Koerner, who calls all the plays. So looked like a few miscommunications out there on that opening drive.

KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah. They did a good job of just kind working it and systematically just went right down the field on us. And a lot of respect for the run game. They've done a good job with that. That guy is a good back. Their line does a good job.

They had a couple on passes on us. And, yeah, pretty much had us on our heels. And then we blew coverage down there on that last play where we let the guy go in pretty much uncovered. And just a bad way to start out.

And we turned around and go to punt the ball and it goes right through Tory's legs, you know. So, obviously, didn't play baseball growing up in Australia, but the snap could have certainly been a lot better too.

Q. He circled it.


Q. It wasn't a short stop two hopper. But you know what, at least he jumped on the ball and they only got three out of that. But Charlie Jones lit the place up again, Kirk, on the ensuing kickoff with that 100 yard return.

KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah. A great effort on his part. A really nice job of everybody blocking.

And the other part there that -- you know, we -- that was something LeVar thought we might have a chance to hit. These guys, they don't give up many kick returns. I think it was four going into this game.

And so yeah, we thought there might that be opportunity. It was a great call by LeVar. The guys really executed it well and obviously a huge spark for us.

Q. Well, Coach, you had 37 tailback carries today. 172 total rushing yards. Some were by wide receivers, but most of them were two guys just pounding away.

KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah. They did a good job pretty much on that outside -- you know, the receiver stuff around the outside edge. But, yeah, the backs both ran well. And we were hoping that we could run the bach successfully and burn some clock, keep their guys off the field a little bit. Really good job.

The next step now is just to put the drives together and mix the run and pass a little bit better. We never seemed to have got that meshed at least consistently today. But, yeah, some really good things.

I think the line, in my opinion at least, it feels like they're growing week to week to week. The last three weeks they've practiced better. And I thought they did a pretty good job in the run game today against a team that hasn't been giving up a lot.

Q. Agreed. Coach, there were some drops today we're not used to seeing. I don't know if they're adjusting to the speed of the ball that comes out of Padilla's hand. But it's tough to explain. I know you were down there closer than we were.

KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah. It really is. It's a frustrating thing in a lot of ways because, you know, whether it be field position we didn't cash in on or, to your point -- yeah, we didn't make a couple of those catches and now, you know, we're moving the ball and moving the chains and you develop a little bit of a rhythm or what have you.

But it's no different than practice. You know, if the guys -- we have a false start or, you know, drops, those types of things, you just can't build momentum with those kinds of errors.

Yeah. The throws weren't necessarily maybe perfect but seemed like they were catchable balls. But it's uncharacteristic of the guys involved. Those are things that we have to get -- play a lot better if we get those cleaned up.

Q. Well, Coach, you've had three pick sixes this year, two Moss and now one by Campbell. He's a scoring machine. He had a fumble recovery for a touchdown. And now -- he had ahold of that ball with both arms. I said you just can't drop the dead pig when you get that close to the goal line. And, man, he got in there?

KIRK FERENTZ: That was my favorite play of the game for a couple of reasons. Obviously, the points kind of let everybody breathe a sigh of relief. And the other part was like, you know, he could just read -- I think we all of us on the bench knew what he was thinking because he knows he can go score but he also knows Phil is going to be on him tomorrow. And Ken O'Keefe is screaming, you know, get down and all that too.

You know, maybe the smart play is to get down. But, you know, I mean, it's an obvious touchdown right there so -- but it's funny. Even in the locker room he's not sure what's going to happen, if he's going to get congratulated or ripped.

Q. What I loved about it is he turned around two or three times to see if he was going to get hit.

KIRK FERENTZ: It was comical.

Q. About the three yard line. I don't know if you heard his explanation he gave us?


Q. His grandfather passed away. He knows his grandma is listening in Cedar Falls. He got a little emotional.

It was his grandfather's birthday.

KIRK FERENTZ: Oh, my gosh.

Q. It was his grandfather's birthday today. I said, Jack, you did the right thing.


Q. Get in the end zone. We said hi to Grandma Joyce up in Cedar Falls?

KIRK FERENTZ: That's a win-win. I'm just glad he's on our team. He's one heck of a player. A great young guy.

Q. I mentioned to Ed at some point after about the third scrum along the Illinois sideline, I said, This looks like a bad blood Illinois High School all star game. You go up and down each of these rosters, and it's competitive warfare there. Both schools love to recruit Chicago and Illinois. And, you know, Brent is going to make that an emphasis. He said that publicly. I'm not saying there's bad blood, but there's some rivalries out there today.

KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah. It got a little feisty out there. We were hoping our guys wouldn't get involved. I was a little wordy about Tyler Linderbaum getting involved in one of those, I think it was in the third quarter. With all due respect to their guys, I don't want to trade him for one of their players. I don't care who it is. Fortunately, nothing really escalated too badly.

Q. Well, it's on to Nebraska. We're keeping an eye on that score, Kirk. It's 28 all with five minutes to go up in Madison, Wisconsin's driving, over ground naturally.


Q. But I think you pointed this out on your show Wednesday night, all the one-score games that the Huskers have been on the short end of. You know, that's going to be a battle royale on Friday.

KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah. We've had nothing but close games with them here the last several years. They've got a lot of good players back. Their statistics have been good, you know, offensively especially and defensively too.

But they just have come up short, for whatever reasons. And I can't give you the reasons because I really haven't studied them yet.

But pretty much, at least from me following it casually, it seems like they're in every game. So I'm not surprised they're battling right now.

Again, conference football this month, you just never know what's going to happen. I do know it's going to be tough for us, so that's what our focus is. And just encourage the guys to enjoy this win but also make sure they get rest because this is a short week. And it's a six-day season right now. So we can put everything else aside and get caught up next weekend.

Q. Before we let you go, what's the outlook on Hankins and Koerner who didn't play today?

KIRK FERENTZ: You know, I would think, based on the speed Matt got out there to greet his parents, it doesn't look very good for next week. That might be the all-time slowest entry for a senior. They should have sent a golf cart out for him.

Hopefully, Jack will have a chance. I thought -- he hoped he could go today and just couldn't do it pregame. Didn't have a chance at it. We'll take that day by day. But I think Matt probably not. And maybe we'll get Terry Roberts back next week. I think he's getting closer, but there's no way to predict this stuff.

Q. Well, Ed and I were diving for the roster on some of those rosters. DeJean -- is that how you pronounce that?

KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah. Cooper DeJean.

Q. He laid the wood on a couple guys today. And Quinn Schulte. That play he made on the tight end, you're going to love that. He punched the ball -- it would have been a first pass that Schulte jarred loose from Luke Ford, which would have kept a -- when it was still close -- the Illinois driving going. You're going to like some of the plays those youngsters made today.

KIRK FERENTZ: That was really good. And then, ironically, Sebastian Castro on that one blitz -- Sebastian played high school quarterback. I was teasing him. I said, You know, didn't you like it when you got blitzed and they came to the wrong shoulder? Because that's exactly what he did. And the quarterback just rolled left and made him look like a fool. So learning on the job. But Sebastian has really grown as a player. And it's going to be a good learning experience for him.

Q. Congratulations. 9 and 2. That sounds pretty good to me, Coach.

KIRK FERENTZ: Appreciate that. I'm sitting here thinking was that -- their drive their scoring drive there as fast, or did it take longer than the Minnesota one last year?

Q. Which one are you talking about?

KIRK FERENTZ: The one when Minnesota scored last year up there against --

Q. Oh.

KIRK FERENTZ: That seemed like it went pretty quick too.

Q. I'd say it was fast.

KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah. Start measuring those.

Q. We'll see you next week, Coach. Thanks for your time.

KIRK FERENTZ: Sounds good. Thanks.

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