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September 29, 2007

Kirk Ferentz

COACH FERENTZ: First of all, congratulate Indiana on playing a good game. They're a good football team. We've seen them improve last year and they've continued that process. They played a good game. Credit goes to them certainly.
On our case, it was a tough game for us in a lot of ways. We didn't play extremely well. Didn't play well really in any phase. I really think kind of like two weeks ago, at least similar to two weeks ago, I think we really put ourselves in a tough hole in the first half, made it really difficult. We gave up a couple big plays defensively. Hardy made a couple nice plays. The fumble return certainly was a big play.
Offensively A couple drops, sacks. Never really got into a rhythm. Then on special teams in particular, outside of a good kick return, I don't think we had a good play on special teams in the first half. Had a couple fumbles of punt returns. Missed two field goals. Picked up a personal foul along the way. On top of that, I think we had seven penalties in the first half. To me that's really where our troubles began.
We're going to have to play better than that certainly in the future. Once we get through this thing, we'll look at the tapes, hopefully find a few things that are -- that cause optimism a little bit. We'll go back to work tomorrow. There's no easy answers right now. We didn't look like a good football team today. We'll go back to work tomorrow and focus on improvement for next week's ballgame.

Q. Were you surprised at how this game shook out? Almost like you turned around it's 21-0 before you could blink.
COACH FERENTZ: Yes and no. The way we played, no. I mean, we got what we deserved in that first half. We never got anything going offensively. Never established anything consistently. Couldn't get on schedule or stay on schedule certainly. When you give up a couple big plays, it's a tough situation to be in.
Even then we thought it was a winnable ballgame. You could say they maybe caught a break on the fumble return. You could say we caught one right there at the end. It puts it back to 14 points. We felt like we had opportunities to win in the second half and we didn't get it done.

Q. Did the line breaking down...
COACH FERENTZ: I think, as is typical when you have as many sacks as we did, and it wasn't double-digit, it felt that way, at least I was told it wasn't, it's usually a combination. When you see a guy get there right now, obviously that's usually the line. But I think it's a combination of several things right now.
The bottom line is we don't have a rhythm going. Our protection wasn't great at times certainly. We broke some routes. I'm sure we missed some reads also. You factor all three of those things together, it makes a bad combination.

Q. Inexperience because of the injuries?
COACH FERENTZ: Injuries are part of the game. We can't focus on that. We can't dwell on that. We're going to go with what we have.
You know, all that being said, we still have to take the attitude that we have enough to win with. That is our attitude. We're just going to have to forge ahead.

Q. Concerned at all about the line?
COACH FERENTZ: Well, I'm concerned about everything right now. I mean, there wasn't near enough consistency offensively. And it's a team thing. You know, when you talk about offense, it gets a little bit complex and it's all 11 guys doing their jobs.
From the sideline, I wouldn't say, Boy, it was just the offensive line. I think just as an offense we couldn't get into a rhythm at all. Give them some credit there, too.

Q. From your point of view, how comfortable does Jake look when he's in the pocket?
COACH FERENTZ: When you get sacked seven times, and again it's a team thing, it wasn't one area I don't think, at least from where I stood. You know, you can't say anybody's got a comfort level, because we don't. We're not in rhythm by any stretch. At times we looked okay. But the consistency you need to have, not at all.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ: No. I mean, we've got some areas of concern right now. But, no, I thought we'd have a realistic chance to compete today. You know, I thought in the second half we had a chance to get back in there and, you know, we made an attempt. But I thought we could win the game. I thought it was a winnable game in the second half.

Q. Step forward last week. How big of a step back after this week?
COACH FERENTZ: I don't know what the measurement on it would be, but it was a step back. I don't think it's an effort thing. I don't think it's that at all. I just think it's a little more complex than that right now.
You know, the bottom line is we're not giving ourselves enough chances to win a ballgame. We obviously have some areas of concern right now. So when you have those, you just can't -- it's too hard to be perfect on every play. So we've got to start by making the plays that are makable.
I'd like to think that we can, you know, for instance protect on field goals. We haven't done that consistently. I'd like to think that we can field punts cleanly, do the things that you have to do to stay out of trouble. If you do that, then you give yourself a chance to win. But we didn't do that today certainly. And I credit them. I credit them.

Q. (Question regarding the kick being long.)
COACH FERENTZ: Looked bad to me. Looked bad to the revs, too. It appeared to be kicking today. Last two weeks it's been protection. We're spreading it around a little bit. But the bottom line is it's not consistent right now. And theirs was. You know, they did a good job with theirs. And they have be doing a good job.

Q. You talk about rhythm. That would go with the offensive line, wouldn't it?
COACH FERENTZ: I think it's everything. I really do. That's one thing about offense. Offense is a complex thing. It's usually a complex equation. And, you know, I've been around this for a while. When it's not going well, it's a tough thing. It's a tough thing. It's tough to get it going well. It seemed like when we did, then we'd get right back off schedule with a sack, with a penalty, whatever it may be.
We're going to have to work through that. We're going to have to fight through it. I know we're young on offense right now. And sometimes it's painful to grow. That's kind of where we're at. But we've been there before. Hopefully we can find an answer.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ: I would hope so. We thought he had a chance today. At midweek we thought he still had a chance. At late at Thursday, we were hopeful that he might have a chance. He couldn't practice Thursday. Knocked that out for the most part. Yeah, we're hopeful he'll be back. We're hopeful Devan Moylan will be back.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ: He had a contusion on his elbow. Just limited him in the first half. He got cleared in the second half. He's a young guy with a bad elbow. It's not a great combination. I would hope. Unless something happens next two days.

Q. Would you talk about Hardy's play, and especially specifically the two plays with momentum shifts, the touchdown and the long bomb?
COACH FERENTZ: Those were both huge plays. I think that touchdown was on third down, wasn't it, third and 10? If we just tackle him there, at least we live to fight another day. But we didn't do that. So he made the play. Got the first, then he finished it. And that's what good players do. And he's an excellent football player.
Certainly had a big play down our sideline, was a big play also. You know, that was a big spark for him. He's a good football player. We knew that. He's a tough guy to contain. I think our guys were working at it. We just couldn't quite get it done.

Q. You mentioned you're tough to grow. With such a young team, there is obviously a lot of room for growth. How much do you say, Chalk this up to a learning experience for these guys and a growing day?
COACH FERENTZ: I think, well, at the end of the day we'll have to, as painful as it may be.
The good news about the team I think is that we can grow. And I think we've got a good attitude. So, you know, the areas we're struggling in right now, there's no question we can improve. How quickly we can is going to be the issue. That's what we really need to focus on. I fully realize that won't be the focus on the outside world. I understand that. Nobody's complaining about that.
But as a team if we're going to get where we want to get, we're going to have to worry about what's in front of us each day, and in particular next week. I mean, that's all we need to worry about at this point.

Q. People will ask how the program got to a point where you lost seven straight conference games. What is your answer.
COACH FERENTZ: I guess my answer would be, I'm worried about the two that we've lost this year. Last year to me is behind us. Easy for me to say, I guess. But that's how I'm looking at it.
This is a new football team. We're 0-2 in the count right now. Certainly not where we wanted to be. And we'll worry about the next six. We've got six straight coming up. That's really all that counts for this team.
At the end of the year, we'll tally it all up and see where we're at, see if there are any parallels, that type of thing. But right now I think all we need to worry about, I'm talking about us internally here, we just need to worry about what is in front of us. That's what I was alluding to. On the outside, I understand those are topics of conversation, you know. It comes with the territory. But we need to worry about what we're doing here.

Q. How do you keep a young squad from losing a little confidence out there?
COACH FERENTZ: I don't know how much confidence we had coming in. But that's our job right now, is to build some confidence and gain some confidence. And we'll do that through good play. It's not an easy road. I really don't know any magical solutions. You just keep working at what you're doing and try to do what you're doing better. And as coaches, we need to make sure we give our guys the best possible plan that they can have. Outside of that, I don't know any other quick fixes.

Q. Do you think your wide receivers, freshmen, are improving every week?
COACH FERENTZ: I'd want to see the tape first. I know they're getting experience. That's a positive. I don't know if we're improving. At times we are; at times we're not.
But, you know, we'll just keep pushing forward.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ: Somebody told me seven. Seemed like that. Felt like 10.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ: Well, yeah, as I said earlier, there's ownership for everybody typically in sacks. If a guy just blows in there, it might be a missed block or something like that. But I think there's probably ownership with the whole offense on the sacks today. I don't think it was as simple as just what our blocking was doing.
That's a challenge for us right now, to develop a good passing attack, certainly have to have protection. We've got to be running the right routes and we've got to get the ball out when it has to get out and to the right spot. Again, that's a lot easier to talk about than do. So we've just got to keep working at it.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ: Well, that's my thought right now, at least through this week. You know, we'll look at the tapes and all that. But the thought never entered my mind to make a change. We're just going to continue to push forward.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ: Not that I know of, you know, unless I see something on the tapes. But, no, right now I'm not even thinking about that. I'm just thinking about us collectively.

Q. Things snowballed last year. How do you stop that from happening again?
COACH FERENTZ: You know, I guess, I'm an optimist, you know that. At least I think I am. I mean, last year we got off to a pretty good start. We were clipping along okay. We were 5-1 and things went south.
Our job this year is to maybe turn it the other direction. I think -- I don't think. From everything I can tell, everything I see and observe, I think we're getting great leadership from our seniors and plus our older guys, experienced players, guys like Kroul, guys like King.
I really think this is a totally different football team with different challenges. Obviously we've got some challenges. But I think it's a totally different football team.
And we're going to do what we can with these next seven games. There's a heck of a lot of football. I know that there is a lot of improvement we can make. What we need to do right now is make sure we make that improvement. And that's going to take a lot of effort, it's going to take great leadership, too. But I'm banking on that. I really think every coach on our staff feels about good about the young people we're working with.

Q. A lot of third-and-longs. Five of 18 on third downs. How much are those third-and-long situations contributing to the lack of rhythm?
COACH FERENTZ: That's been a part of our problem certainly. Seemed like we were doing some better things first and second down, you know, then, boom, we'd slide back. And we tried the one gadget play there. I thought it was a good call at a good time. They had a corner who was kind of in no man's land. He ended up reading it as the run came to play, ends up getting a sack there. We had instances like that, penalties, what have you, that threw us back in those situations. When you're struggling, third-and-long is not good. So we've got to keep working to get out of that.

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