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October 18, 2008

Kirk Ferentz

COACH FERENTZ: A lot of things happened today that we haven't seen a while. Seems like it's been 30 years, three years I guess since we blocked a punt, and that was good, too, so there was a lot of positives today.

Q. How important was Shonn Greene's touchdown run after they had cut it to 14-9 and then he goes 52 yards. How important?
COACH FERENTZ: We certainly knew at halftime there would be nothing easy about this football game. We lost our momentum certainly in that first part of the second half and they were gaining it. Shonn has been giving it a spark all season long. The guy just -- obviously the statistics speaks for themselves. I've been saying all along his yards per carry I think is extremely impressive.
It just gets back to the way he plays. He's very determined, he's very tough-minded, and he's a guy that can spark a football team and some pretty good execution up front, too, so it's a good combination.

Q. It looked like a lot of your wide receivers like Andy Brodell took what would normally be a 15-yard play and turned it into --
COACH FERENTZ: That's usually the difference on a big run. It takes good blocking on the perimeter, and I think Andy has been doing a good job, certainly Darrelle has been doing some good things out there on that front, and even on the screen pass that we scored on, Myers came over and did a good job. That's kind of been representative of this team. They've been hustling, trying to help each other out, and the guys up front have been getting Shonn up to the second level, and he's doing some things on his own and then other guys are trying to chip in, too. When a guy like him has got the ball I think everybody is a little bit more enthusiastic because they know that effort is going to pay off.

Q. We knew he could run over people, but are you surprised to see him run away from people?
COACH FERENTZ: Not really. I think that's one thing. He's a big back and he's a tough-minded back, but he also has got pretty good speed, and he always has had good speed. That's one of the thing you get kind of fixated on is his tough running. You forget he can pick them up and go pretty well.
As I said, he's a good story. He's a good story. He's come the hard road.

Q. Andy Kuempel stepped in?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, all season long we've had guys step in and do the job when something happens, and Andy is a good who did a nice job last spring, kind of tailed off in camp and was lost in the shuffle a little bit, and I thought he really started to rebound the Northwestern week, and he's been climbing ever since.
He and Rafa rotated at that guard spot, and you hate to lose anybody, you hate to lose a senior like Seth Olsen who's not only a good player but a leader, but sometimes that happens. That's when other guys have carry the slack, grabbed the rope and jumped in there and done a great job. You've got Andy on one side, you've got Chad Geary on the other side doing the same thing, doing a nice job for Clayborn. Guys have been pitching in and doing their share.

Q. What is the diagnosis on Seth Olsen? What happened?
COACH FERENTZ: Seth rolled his ankle Wednesday, non-contact. It was just a blocking drill like we do every week frequently, and just one of those freak things. I'm hoping he can make it back, but it's probably going to be a while. We'll see how the next week looks.

Q. Talk about Moeaki coming back from his three weeks off and not just playing but having an impact play.
COACH FERENTZ: That was huge. To block a punt is a great thing, and ironically we went for the block the play before. I'm still not sure what the penalty situation was, but anyway, they had to repunt it, and we put the return on it, and sure enough, we got the block. It was just a great effort. Tom Atmoy (phon.) got his in the Outback Bowl a couple years back. It was on a return but a great individual effort, and it was great to see. It was a great spark.

Q. What does Rob Bruggeman bring to this team?
COACH FERENTZ: You know, the guy, he's just a heck of a player. He's a heck of a player. You know, the center position is usually a good guy, and Rob fits that bill. He's a very intelligent player, walked on obviously as you know. You know the story better than I.
But he's worked for everything he's gotten. He really was, I thought, ascending a year ago spring. He was really having a good spring. You know, went through some tough times there, but boom, he's jumped in this year and really done a good job.
I doubt anybody is enjoying their senior year any more than he is. It's really fun to see.

Q. Is this bye week coming at a bad time?
COACH FERENTZ: No, it's at a perfect time. We don't have much left right now, and we've been kind of putting that out in front of our guys. Schedule makers make the schedule, but we had a eight-week block, and we'll catch our breath right now. We've got guys nicked up, so it will give us a chance to get rested up here a little bit.
You know, we'll do a little preparation on our next four teams and we'll go back to work, but I think it's a perfect thing. Now we've got a four-week season. That's what it comes down to. We've got a four-week season.

Q. After the three tough close losses, (inaudible)?
COACH FERENTZ: It's just something we thought we might. It's been a while since we've done that play or run that play, but we thought it might have a chance, mainly because of something they were doing defensively, and it worked out. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Just for the record, Ken O'Keefe put the play in and made the call, if anybody is interested.
I've got bad news, too, those guys -- I was going to put the coordinators onto in front of you on Friday, but I gave them the day off, so we'll get them in the out of season. Just joking.

Q. The safety blitz, Shonn's run on that, the draw play there, was that called or was that --
COACH FERENTZ: No, it was called. They disguised the blitz pretty well, and I'd really note Brandon Myers on that play. He did a nice job of double-bumping basically, which gave Shonn a chance to spring it. Then Brandon had a great play out there in the open on Reisner's touchdown, too. Efforts like that, that's what it takes to win football games. That's a heady senior player doing a nice job.

Q. After the three tough losses, this thing could have gone either way. Why is it going the way it is?
COACH FERENTZ: We've got good players. When I say good players, they're good people. They've been so consistent, and you go back to spring ball right on through. We weren't very good in the spring as a football team. We couldn't have beaten St. Mary's, I don't think, if we had played them, but the guys have been working hard. They've had a good attitude each and every day, and that's all you can ask. When guys do that, they tend to improve, and that's what we've seen.
You know, even during those three losses, if you look close, nobody likes losing, but we were fighting for the full 60. Guys were responding to whatever bad things might have happened. They were responding in a positive way. And the bottom line is we weren't good enough to win those three games. We're not looking back, we're looking forward, and it's just been a fun team to coach. I've been saying that. We've got a great staff.

Q. Those three games, there were questions about whether or not this team could finish, they were having trouble finishing.
COACH FERENTZ: Who's asking that? I didn't hear that (laughter).
There were a lot of questions, I think. Questions come with losing, and unfortunately when you win, everything is fine. It's not usually all fine, either, but that's just how it goes.
To me, I go back to 2002 when we lost right here in Kinnick early in the season. We weren't good enough to win that game that night. I don't stay up at night worrying about those kinds of things. If we're not good enough, we're not good enough, and what you worry about, you stay up at night worrying about how can we get better, how can we correct those situations and address them, and that's kind of been our mode of operation. I think our players operate the same way.

Q. You guys were on the cusp of putting out the effort that you say were shown on the scoreboard the last couple weeks. Did you feel like you were pretty close as a team of just putting it all together, just a couple of turnovers?
COACH FERENTZ: I did. You just hit on a real key point. When you don't protect the football -- especially the way we play, if you don't protect the football, it makes it tough for you to win and your chances really go down, are minimized.
You look at the last two weeks, we didn't turn it over, and the results have been an awful lot better. Even when we did turn it over, our defense I thought really did a good job as a rule responding because we've turned it over on our end and they've gone out there and held our opponents to field goals.
When you're seeing those kinds of responses out of the team, just gives you some hope that things are going to work out here. I'm not taking it for granted, but I thought as we got a little bit more experienced we'd be a little bit better protecting the football, and that's two down. We've got four to go.

Q. What do you do to improve the 3rd down conversion rate?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, one of them was the 3rd and short right there at the start of the half, and that was a good adjustment by their team. They made a nice -- they had a good call for what we did, and it's unfortunate. We're going to keep working on it, just like everything else. We'll get there.

Q. Talk about Pat Angerer's game today.
COACH FERENTZ: Pat has been playing very well. Today was a little bit more evident with the amount of tackles and the interceptions. But another guy who's really -- he's battled, he's gone through adversity, and he's really just stuck to his core values, I guess. And we saw him getting better in the spring, and right now he's playing with great confidence.
He's also a versatile guy. He's a smart guy. He played two positions today, and that's a real credit to him, too, because he's prepared. He's really worked hard and prepared.

Q. Did you think that Reisner was a potential playmaker?
COACH FERENTZ: Well, yeah, we sure thought he was a good prospect, and we saw some things last year that were -- where he had potential. But as I said before, he looked like he was about 16 years old, maybe 15 last year, and he's really grown immensely. Even though he only played a little bit last year, he's really made huge strides. When we get Tony back, which I think we're pretty close there, it really gives us a one, two, three punch. But Allen is making progress. He works hard and we're thrilled he's on our team.

Q. Did you have a decent view of his touchdown play?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, good enough. Good enough. It was a real nice effort. And again, Brandon jumped in there and helped out, too. This guy has got some skills, he really does.

Q. He said you're looking forward now. What do you think the future holds for this team?
COACH FERENTZ: We'll find out, but the good news is right now we're giving ourselves a chance, and that's something maybe we weren't doing a couple weeks ago. It's a learning process sometimes, but I think the guys are getting a little bit more confident now. It's something you can't just hand over. That's something that gets earned. So they're starting to believe in themselves a little bit.
Now the challenge for us is to really keep our focus where it needs to be and accept the challenge of getting ready for our next game. Whenever that time comes, we have to get our focus on that next opponent.

End of FastScripts

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