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September 27, 2008

Kirk Ferentz

COACH FERENTZ: First of all I thought our crowd was tremendous. We appreciate the fan support today. They were great, and credit Northwestern, they played hard, played a good football game and you know, certainly deserved to win.
And you know, I thought our team played extremely hard also. Clearly we didn't play well enough or clean enough to win the ballgame. I don't think I've ever been involved in a game where you turn the ball over five times and win it. You know, that certainly held true today.
Probably most disappointed with the number of turnovers were uncontested. I don't know if they ever come at opportune times but certainly a couple of them today, really timing could have been a lot better.
But we are disappointed with the loss, no question there and with that being said, I thought our guys played hard. I see a lot of room for optimism. Thought we did a lot of good things as well and the obvious challenge for us is to play cleaner, play more proficiently and not -- eliminate the plays that don't give us a chance to win football games. We'll continue to press forward on that. We have to get over this one and push on to our next ballgame here on Monday, and I'll throw it out to questions.

Q. Not just the turnovers, but the penalties, at very opportune times for Northwestern?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, that's usually the case. One in particular was -- might as well have been a turnover. Almost lost a possession on that call. So that's part of football.
Some of the things are avoidable. One of the calls, I'm not sure we could have done much different, but the turnovers, we certainly have to play better there.

Q. The momentum swing, was it the fumble?
COACH FERENTZ: That was, and I would say our first turnover was, too. We took the ball pretty aggressively in our first series, drove it right down and got ourselves into scoring position and then, you know, give up an uncontested turnover and that's a swing there.
Uncharacteristic of Andy, certainly and I'm sure nobody feels worse than him. It would have been great to get a stop there. We couldn't do it. Our defense got thrown into some tough circumstances during the course of the game, and I thought they handled that pretty well for the most part. That one we came up a little bit short and gave them -- you know, closed it down to ten or seven points. We still had the lead and we still had every opportunity to win the football game in the second half.

Q. What does it say about your team's ability to win; even with five turnovers, you still had the opportunity to win at the end?
COACH FERENTZ: Losing is no fun and opening the door up to help your opponent, we have to get that corrected.
The one positive I really have seen the last two weeks, I think our team's responded very favorably, not all the time but most of the time under some tough circumstances. We were down 14-3 last week and make it a one-point game.
And our last possession today offensively, we gave ourselves a chance, realistic chance, at least to, win the football game down inside the ten with four shots at it. Couldn't quite get it done but at least, a lot of positives there, and you know, if we continue to respond like that and respond during the week, we'll have a chance to shape into a good football team.

Q. What about the last four plays, what is it about that that make Northwestern successful on defending?
COACH FERENTZ: I can't tell you. They just executed a little bit better than we did, and both teams were trying as hard as they could, and that's football sometimes. And a lot of little details there. The one Rick had to hurry, the one throw back across the field, we didn't quite execute that play to perfection in the Alamo Bowl a couple years ago, and this was a different problem execution-wise, but still our execution was just off a hair, and it might have been there, too. So that's the difference between winning and losing.

Q. At the half, Northwestern just moved it right down the field --
COACH FERENTZ: That was our most disappointing series defensively from my standpoint, I don't know if it was four plays or five plays, seemed like three, but I think it was five. Yeah, we just didn't contest them at all. We didn't give them one but they took one right off the bat from us. That's disappointing. I can't tell you why.

Q. The fumble -- pretty consistent otherwise.
COACH FERENTZ: He was. And the interception was a tough chance. They dropped an end out and they zone-blitzed inside and dropped an end out, and obviously having won a time or two in my career where a quarterback -- it's tough to see a defensive lineman drop like that. So don't like it, but I understand it, especially for a new, or a young player, I should say.
And the exchange, that was a team effort there, the exchange problem early. But I thought he did a lot of good things. And again, he really good a nice job in that last series, that last drive, playing with poise, and kept the team focused and on track and I thought he did some good things.
So I think he's like a lot of our football players. We're going to get better and just keep pressing forth.

Q. What about Shonn Greene?
COACH FERENTZ: Shonn, same thing's he's been doing. Fifth game in a row he's shown up and played very well. He's a physical guy. I give their safety credit for coming on it. That was a heck of a collision there, heck of a play by both guys.
But Shonn is doing a great job, and we've just got to to -- I think, you know, we have some strengths. We just have to do a little bit better job. Paul thinks he could get around those strengths, but Shonn certainly has been playing well for us. That helps.

Q. Is he hurt --
COACH FERENTZ: I think he's going to be fine. I think he's going to be fine. He had to come out of the game, though.

Q. What was his injury?
COACH FERENTZ: You know, a collision injury. I guess it was a pretty good collision.

Q. Did Rich play well enough today to go with him again?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, that's our plan. He'll be starting the ballgame again next week.

Q. I heard -- inaudible -- do you have any details on like what happened and how severe it is?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, he got hurt last week during the ballgame, had to come out. And I think right now, might have a chance this week. It's one of those ones we'll probably know -- he could miss the next couple of games. Hopefully with a little bit of luck, maybe he'll be back this week.

Q. With Green out there -- four passes there, kind of dropped back a little bit on him?
COACH FERENTZ: No, we just thought our best chance at that point was to take four shots. Didn't work out.

Q. How do you get the team out of the black now?
COACH FERENTZ: You know, you have to have a short memory. You have to have a long memory but a short memory. You have to learn I think from what keeps you from losing -- or from winning, excuse me. That's what we try to do on Sundays is really critique the things we didn't do well enough.
Again I think a lot of them were very, very obvious today and that's one of the things that kept us from winning were very, very obvious and maybe some things that are not so obvious are things that are going to enable us to win in the future. I think our players have to see both those things and we'll try to present that tomorrow.
At the end of the day, we have to improve during the week. I'm not sure we are doing quite well enough in that department; quarterback center exchanges, things of that nature, we have to get that cleaned up and be able to execute a little bit better there. So hopefully we'll take some steps again this week.

Q. Are a lot of those execution problems just because of the youth of the offense?
COACH FERENTZ: I think so. But you know, turnovers, I don't know what to attribute those totally to; communications sometimes, our kickoff return, that was a little bit disappointing certainly, giving them the ball in the short field again.
But that's just football. It's communication and it's recognition and execution.

Q. The defense, are you pleased with their play right now?
COACH FERENTZ: We didn't play well enough to win, either side of the ball or special teams. So you're a lot more pleased when you win the football game, regardless of the score and what-have-you, and things that we can do better but there are things we are doing well, too.
So we're not there, but we're doing some good things.

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