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November 8, 2008

Kirk Ferentz

COACH FERENTZ: I'll just briefly say, obviously just really proud of our football team and very, very happy for them and our staff the same way. Everybody has worked extremely hard. Today was a very hard-fought ballgame, as I said, necessary for Penn State on Tuesday, and that was as genuine as I could be. They're just an outstanding football team, and it took everything for us to come out victorious today.
At the end of the day, the credit goes to our players. They've been themselves the full 60 minutes, fought hard right to the end. Anything short of that we would have no chance. So just very, very proud of their effort, proud of the staff, the plan they put together, the coaching they did during the day today.
And the last thing I'll say, just thanks to our fans. Once again, they were tremendous. Kinnick is as good as play to play in college football, I've always felt that way, at least since '81 I have, and the fans sure did their part today. They did a wonderful job, and it's just a great win for our state after a tough year.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, we leaned more towards experience than anything else. We're so high on Trent. Trent is going to be a tremendous football player. He's going to have some great moments here, too. But it was a tough situation, and it was a little bit tricky out there, and we just leaned towards experience.

Q. There have been so many close games this season. How hard is it to keep (indiscernible)?
COACH FERENTZ: Exactly, and Ricky represents our football team in some ways because we had those two turnovers there, and one thing you don't do against Penn State is turn the football over. To overcome those, I wasn't feeling great at that point, I've got to be honest with you, but just like last week, Rick just keeps playing and moves onto to the next play and moves onto the next series and very resilient, and our team has been that way. They've done a wonderful job of putting whatever happens behind them and pushing forward to the next challenge. That's exactly what it took today, and to everybody's credit, we did what we had to do during that fourth quarter.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ: As I said on the radio, it's kind of ironic because I had a couple questions about that on Tuesday, where did he go and what's going on. Yeah, it's just funny how football goes sometimes, where the ball ends up going. Today it went his way several times. He made some outstanding plays. Brendan Mars did some great things, too, during that last quarter. Rick did a good job of getting him the ball to him on protection which I thought was a factor in the game today. Certainly did it better than that a year ago against these guys.

Q. (Inaudible) back on track back the way it was in '02?
COACH FERENTZ: Only time is going to tell. It's been a tough road, and I'd say just like in the fourth quarter today or the second half, the team has been working hard since last March, and everybody on this ball club has been committed to pushing forward. Only time is going to tell, and short-term-wise we told the team last Sunday that this year's team will be decided mainly on the next three weeks, and this is only one out of three, but it's a great way to start that three-week cycle.
We'll see where we end up. We've got two more games to play. They're both going to be tough, enjoy this one, and we'll worry about Purdue here in another 24 hours.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ: Their offense is a good offense, a really dangerous offense and very talented, very experienced. We couldn't get off the field in that first half. I'm surprised we did hold them to that number of points; I wouldn't have guessed that, quite frankly. Our guys, they knuckled up there in that second half and we played better, did a better job of getting off the field. It was really discouraging in that first half, I'll be honest, but the good news is we were only down six. The last team that beat these guys were down by significantly more than that a year ago.
We've just got to keep pressing forward and hopefully we can play a little better. I'm thrilled that our guys did that.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ: Again, I think our whole team is like that right now. We've all had our hardships. We had some bumps on the road, that type of thing, had some unwanted results.
But in sports it's a different life, you just keep pressing forward. Credit goes to Daniel on that one. He had a great attitude, accepted his role as our kickoff guy, but he's been working hard on the field goals, also. You know, it a little like our quarterback situation; it's not like we've got a clear difference between the two players. You know, you go through gut and then we flipped it around there a little bit in that last situation. The important thing is Danny was ready. He was ready to jump in there and get the job done when he was called upon. I think for the most part that's how I feel about this team; they all have that kind of attitude.

Q. Talk about Shonn Greene and what he's done.
COACH FERENTZ: They played tough today. We knew they would. You play Penn State, you're playing a great defensive football team, fundamentally sound team that tackles well, and it makes it tough to get seams and that type of thing.
Yards really came tough today. Shonn has been banged around. He'll get banged around here the next two weeks, but he keeps coming back. Just a phenomenal effort on his part, and that's, whatever it is, nine, ten games now where he's the same guy every week. He just comes and plays. It serves as a real example to our whole team. He makes everybody a little bit better.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, we didn't get it done in the first half. We missed two 3rd and 3s and didn't get off the field the other side. Statistics are certainly lopsided there. But that was a big difference in that second half. You convert 3rd downs, you get a chance to be a good offensive football team, and it made big difference for us.

Q. Did you flash back to 1985 at all?
COACH FERENTZ: Not until after we get in the locker room, but at that given point, no. I was just --

Q. Locker room?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, that was a pretty great moment, too, for all of us, certainly today was. To finish a game like that is just special, and it's been 20 plus years -- 23 years now, I guess, so it was a great, great moment. Nailing the kick and then responding like they did, too.

Q. How did they forget the turnovers in the fourth quarter?
COACH FERENTZ: I'd like to forget them, too. I hang on to them a little bit longer than he does. Good thing he's the quarterback, not me. But yeah, he does. This is two weeks in a row where we just start to wonder, hey, what's going on out there, and then he comes back and plays. We get that turnover part cleaned up, we're going to be in shape for our next challenge.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, I mean, every game we've lost has been close and, quote-unquote, "winnable," and that's, I guess, the losing team saying that, but the only way to get over the hump is to push over the hump.
As I said the other day I think it was, 2001, it took us to game 12 to get it. It was in a Bowl game against Texas Tech, tough ballgame, and we found a way to get that one done, and we did it today, so I'm hoping maybe this will show us we can get it done. Hopefully it will be tangible evidence.

Q. (Question regarding Coach Paterno.)
COACH FERENTZ: Everybody knows what a class person he is, first and foremost, and he certainly didn't have to stop by. Nice to get a chance to visit with him. As I just said on the radio, we're talking about an icon in sports; more importantly the way I look at it, he's been so important in collegiate football for so many reasons. I grew up in that part of the country, watching his show in high school in the early '70s, and they've just been a model program to me. The one common denominator is Coach Paterno.
I think everybody in our conference, everybody in college football, has nothing but the greatest respect for him and what he stands for, what he's accomplished. And that's just a real first-class gesture, which you'd expect him to stop by and just say congratulations. We have so much respect for their football team and coaching staff, their players, and wish them nothing but the best the rest of the way.

Q. (Question regarding six wins.)
COACH FERENTZ: It was kind of secondary today, but as we found out last year, six doesn't always get it, and we'll try to push forward, but that is significant and I'm happy about that, too. More importantly I'm just happy for our football team to win today, and the way they did it I think is even more gratifying.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ: I don't know, it's kind of a big relief. I think we just felt like we did after the last time we won a game like this. Somebody mentioned the Wisconsin game, a ranked opponent, the LSU team, but they weren't ranked in the top ten but probably should have been. I go back to the Michigan game here in 2000. We've had some great moments.
And it's just important for players to experience that. I've had my share in my career, and for our players to have that, that's real important. That's what we work hard for. That's the reason they've been fighting back is so they have a chance to have that feeling, and today it happened. They earned it.

Q. You've talked numerous times about taking the ball first. Can you talk about that?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, the wind was a factor for sure, not quite Illinois in 2004, but it was a factor. I rolled the dice on that one a little bit, knowing that last time we did it, 2004 -- but it just took a significant amount to do it, and it was kind of a big handout.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, you know, for us to win in any ballgame, especially against a great opponent, special teams have to be clicking, and this was our biggest challenge today if you talk about return games. Their good kickoff return and punt returners, you start with Williams obviously. They've done a phenomenal job all season long. Their statistics there are scary. It's a great challenge, and I'm really proud of our guys the way they responded.

Q. How was the defense able to sort of bounce back after that roughing the kicker call?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, it's a great tribute. From our perspective that turns out to be a dumb call, trying to create a shank if nothing else and bumped into him. But it was a team win today. The defense did a great job. They responded. I thought they did in the whole second half. They really played up to tempo. Holding Penn State to three after the turnover was amazing. All those things, we've lost our share of close ones and now we've won one, and all those things add up.

Q. How do you think today was a day you guys were able to come out on top?
COACH FERENTZ: There are no guarantees in any game, any week. The only guarantee is that you try to improve and try to play hard -- if you don't try to play hard, play hard and compete your best, nothing good is going to come your way; that is guaranteed. When you're involved in sports, you keep pressing, keep pushing, and sooner or later you get over that hill a little bit, and we did today. That ball could roll right back down the hill. We pushed over the top today, but hopefully we'll take something good out of this and learn from it. That's the whole objective.

Q. What did you guys do down there in the red zone to keep it out of the end zone?
COACH FERENTZ: You know, one thing we've done pretty well is consistently play well in the red zone, and that kind of football team, not just this year, but this year certainly we've been pretty good down there, not giving up the touchdown. Like I said, getting out of a one-point ballgame, all those opportunities are critical and they're all big at the end of the game to have an opportunity. I don't know if we have a secret down there, but we've played pretty good red zone defense.

End of FastScripts

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