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October 10, 2009

Kirk Ferentz

Iowa: 30
Michigan: 28

THE MODERATOR: Coach Ferentz.
COACH FERENTZ: All right. First of all I just want to thank our fans. You know, the environment in the stadium today was absolutely fantastic. You know, I think we got one of the best stadiums in the country, regardless, but the thing that makes it so good is the energy our fans bring.
That was outstanding and really proud of our football team. They played hard, competed, Michigan came to play, no question about that. They played extremely hard as well, and it was a great football game, so we feel very fortunate to get the win and happy about the win.
Again, I just want to compliment both teams for the way they played, but I'm really proud of our guys, I thought they hustled out there and did an awful lot of good things. Clearly we have some things we have to clean up but I tell ya what, good effort can overcome a lot of other things, so really pleased about that.

Q. Coach, five errors and take-aways, and that helps.
COACH FERENTZ: I thought we played aggressively, too, and the turnover margin, if we take care of the ball better not only today but over the long haul, our margin would be even better. We've been doing pretty well, but I thought over all good hitting, and our special teams played outstanding football and I think we took a step forward there, so that was great to see as well.

Q. Tony Moeaki's return seemed rather evident out there tonight.
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, good to see Tony back for a lot of reasons. He blocks well for us, and he's guy that has emerged as a strong leader. He's always been a quiet guy but he's clearly a guy that everybody on our football team looks up to because of his toughness and commitment, so just to have him in the lineup was a big boost, and certainly to see him running down the middle with that ball under his arm was a pretty good sight, also, so great to have him back with us.
He's been through an awful lot, so I'm just hopeful he can sneak out the next seven games and play every snap.

Q. How much easier is it to stretch the field with the defensive lineup?
COACH FERENTZ: I feel like we got an excellent tight end with Al Reisner, and the way we like to play it's nice to have two guys. He certainly adds to that, and then Tony is an unusual combination, a guy who can block but he's excellent in the passing game.
If you're not covering him he can hurt you, and we saw that tonight. So they came in and made it tough to run the football on us, and the play that he scored on was really just a form of a run. It doesn't go down that way statistically, but that's what it turned out to be, and if you got a guy like that, that can take it, and he didn't look back so it was excellent.

Q. Sandeman had a good punt return.
COACH FERENTZ: Again, I can't say enough about our special teams. We had the one penalty at the end, kind of a silly penalty but everyone did a great job. I thought Dan Murray did a nice job. He didn't have the best week last week; he bounced back strong. And Paul tweaked his knee, so Colin jumped in, and he's had his injuries to deal with and he looked like a veteran back there tonight so that was big for us, really big.
He made some beautiful returns and made good decisions, too, and that's the biggest thing you worry about back there. It was a big part of the win, everybody contributing, and Colin is certainly a big part of that.

Q. There was a stretch where you couldn't buy a close one, it seemed like. Was it the matter of getting the close one?
COACH FERENTZ: We were joking about that in there. I said at least now we're getting plenty of work on close wins and on onside kick returns, setting a record in six games. I don't know what that is.
We're playing better, you know, and in our conference and the teams that we play you're going to be have close games than probably not and, you know, we broke through in good style last year against Penn State, followed up with one against Purdue, and we've been involved in a couple this year. Comes down to you have to have a good team, certainly, and a team that's willing to fight for the entire game, and I think our guys have -- at least they've proven they're going to do that.

Q. (Away from mic.)
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, in 2004 we were the masters of the close game, because we weren't fast enough to pull away from anybody. That was a real unusual year, but -- I can't remember the exact stats but I know we won eight straight and the average win was 4 or 5 points a game.
Some years are like that, some games are like that. When you play good teams you're going to have a lot of those and it gets back to what kind of -- can you eliminate the mistakes and win the turnover battle, can you play long special teams, all those little things that are hidden back there a little bit.

Q. Is it nice to have someone like Ricky who has been able to have one mistake and put it behind him and move forward.
COACH FERENTZ: That clearly is his best attribute. He's got a lot of good attributes, I don't mean that, but it's tough to rattle him, it really is, at least visibly, and the other best attribute is everybody on this team believes in Rick.
He's got great leadership skills and we've made it harder than we probably have to, but I'll flip it around, too, then he led us back to some real good things today. That's going to come, we'll work through these things, but I'm really proud of the way he's led our football team and, again, every guy on our team, offense, defense, special teams, everybody has great respect for him and his commitment to the team.

Q. Running yards were hard to come by, particularly in the first half.
COACH FERENTZ: Oh my gosh, not even sure why we tried at times. That was part of the game plan, and they're built that way a little bit anyway, but they made it difficult for us to run the football. I thought the staff did a great job offensively and defensively of making adjustments at halftime and it still wasn't easy but at least we came out and did some good things and gave ourselves a chance to balance it up.

Q. Michigan ran the ball 45 times and didn't have a single run over 12 yards. What do you attribute that to?
COACH FERENTZ: If you're going to play good defense it starts with not giving up the big play, and it wasn't exactly easy today because they've got a lot guys that can break for big gains. They're very dangerous, skilled players and I thought their guys up front were playing hard. It wasn't pretty, we gave up more yards on the ground than we would have liked to on the ground, but not giving up the big plays gives you a chance to fight the next series.

Q. Tonight the turning point was when the defense had 99 yards behind them and they stepped up and got the forced a three and out to get the ball back.
COACH FERENTZ: I second guessed myself after the fourth down decision but, you know, we had confidence in our defense and they had done a great job a couple of weeks ago in a same situation so we were hopeful.
We were fairly confident that we would get the ball back, maybe at good field position and have a chance to get back down in there. We just felt like we had a good play sitting in our pocket to run in that situation but the defense did a great job there and it looks like they came close to getting a safety but they were playing aggressive and it was a big stand there.

Q. That series knocked Tate Forcier out of the game; he never returned. How did that change the complex of the game?
COACH FERENTZ: The guy who came in, he's a dangerous guy, too, we had a hard time catching up to him, speedwise and tackling him, but that's more of his forte, I think, based on his numbers at least right now is running the football so played into our hands, I guess, a little at the end.

Q. Rich said Tate could have come back in the game, but he chose a different route. Was that surprising to you?
COACH FERENTZ: Yes and no. Forcier has proven himself to be a magical guy, but Robinson didn't look to bad that series prior, right down the field, so we were having a hard time defending him. I don't question that one at all.

Q. Right before the half you got a 5-yard delay penalty and that --
COACH FERENTZ: That's my fault. None of us, I guess -- in fact, I'm still trying to figure out how that happened, but that was a costly penalty and don't think I wasn't thinking about that the last two minutes, also, just because -- I don't know how it happened.
None of us caught that, and we had one or two, three time outs, so we could have easily taken the time-out. That hurt.

Q. How does it feel to be bowl eligible?
COACH FERENTZ: Good. Last time we were bowl eligible, period, we didn't go to a bowl. But at this point it feels really good. The way I look at it -- and I don't know anything really about our next six opponents. We could probably win any of those games or we could probably lose any of 'em. That's the kind of team we are. So we're going to enjoy this one and we'll be nice to everybody tomorrow, and then we'll come in here Tuesday and hopefully get ready for another tough game. We go on the road now for a couple of weeks so the degree of difficulty continues to escalate.
You know, this team has been responsive, they've been working hard, and we're looking forward to, after we enjoy this one we will look forward to the next challenge.

Q. You guys struggled winning close games last year and this year it seems all of your wins are close games. What's changed among your team? What do you see from them that they're able to finish and come up with big wins?
COACH FERENTZ: We talked about it earlier. It starts with our guys are playing hard and playing well. It's a good team we beat tonight. They believe in each other and they're -- we're not making so many mistakes where we don't have a chance. We made a few tonight that could have cost us but we're playing clean enough where we have a shot.
And in our conference and the way we're built we're probably going to be involved in a lot of these games, so this is great experience because we'll probably be involved in more 2-pointers than 20-pointers. That would be my guess.

Q. Broderick has knocked down a couple of balls in the last several games. Is it his wing span or --
COACH FERENTZ: We need to work on his hands. He needs to catch one of those and run with it. Broderick has a good reach and that's an effective thing, you know for a tackle to get on the end, getting the hands up in the throw lanes, that can be effective so that was great to see.

Q. Talk about Ricky. He had the bad throw and he shakes it off and has some good audibles.
COACH FERENTZ: He does a lot of things and the mistakes are evident, and that's the way it is. He's a great leader, first of all, he does his homework, he works hard at it and it's hard to shake him, it really is, out there, at least it's hard to see when he's shook.
I'm sure inside he's churning a little bit but he competes and keeps playin', and you gotta -- I said earlier talking to Chuck in there a few minutes ago, Chuck Long, he says quarterbacks have to flush things and keep movin', so he's done that. The thing I'm impressed with is he's earned the right to be a leader on this team through his hard work, his play, the things he does off the field, and our guys clearly follow him.

Q. The players have said that Tony is the best athlete on the team and any ball he picks up he can play with well. Can you expand on what makes him a phenomenonal athlete?
COACH FERENTZ: That's probably accurate. I'm trying to think who might be better but from the day he walked in here he's been a guy that seems to take to things. There are guys that you've been around -- when I was at Pittsburgh in 1980, Russ Grim was an outstanding center for us, and he could have fielded ground balls at shortstop and he could have made free-throws. Some guys just have that knack, and I never had that ability, but Tony is a phenomenal athlete but more importantly he's got the attitude that you're looking for, and I don't know anybody has a better attitude than him and when you've got those two things you've got an excellent football player.

Q. Talk about Eric Campbell, his alma mater, and (away from mic.)
COACH FERENTZ: It's always special when you go home and you're playing your home school and your home people. We gave Eric the game ball tonight. He's our rookie right now on the staff, only been here two years. I tell you what, we don't have anybody that's more of a Hawkeye than him, great addition. We lost one of the best coaches in Carl Jackson, and with Eric we've got a guy who is an excellent coach, tremendous character, and he's got a great attitude and it's infectious with everybody on the team, and with the staff so we lucked out.
I'm thankful to Lloyd that he retired; otherwise we wouldn't have Eric here right now, so I hope Lloyd is enjoying himself and we're enjoying having Eric with us.

Q. You moved Riley inside tonight. How did he perform?
COACH FERENTZ: I'll know more tomorrow, after we look at the tapes, but Riley's been competing out there, he brings toughness to the field. I'm not saying other people don't but I think that's the number one attribute that comes to mind. He competed well as a first-year player a couple of weeks ago and we wanted to get 'em in the mix. We're rolling guys in and out of there, and we're keeping things in the mix.
We didn't intend in building depth that way but it's a by-product of Brian being out. I'm confident our offense is going to improve. We are going to get better as we go along, if we can just keep everybody healthy.

Q. (Away from mic.) Is there a calm about this team or lack of panic?
COACH FERENTZ: I think our guys are confident. I would put it that way. I think they're confident that, unless we put ourselves in a terrible hole, we can -- if there are 60 minutes we plan on playin' 'em, and so far we're six for six.
I think that starts with the work habits, the leadership we're getting from our older guys and it's been a fun group to coach. I said that about last year's group and we're only six games into it and win or lose tonight I would tell you the same thing.
They're fun to be on the practice field with, most of the time, you know, but they've been on the game field, they compete. They believe in each other.
So I think, you know, somehow, some way, Adrian came up with a big play a couple of weeks ago for us and somehow some way they believe things are going to happen if they keep working for it.

Q. In '85 when the team was number one in the country, last time they were 6-0. This time a little lower profile. Which do you like better?
COACH FERENTZ: '85 was pretty good and this is pretty good. No complaining. Anytime you -- this was just a great atmosphere tonight, great environment, we're playing a marques opponent and to get the victory in a hard-fought win, just like '85, totally different circumstances but that was a heck of a football game and this was, too, and we had some good people in the house tonight. Our fans were great and a lot of former players, and that was special. It's a fun thing.

Q. Pass to Tony Moeaki one of the more perfect plays you could get, a third read that you got during -- I think he had two downhill blocks (Away from mic.)
COACH FERENTZ: First thing, I couldn't really see the blocking down field but our guys were working at it down field, and that's what happens on big plays, and really that pass play was just the form of a run.
They were loading it up pretty good and we play actioned and Rick hit Tony, he was in stride and "boom" that was it. The run yards were tough to come by tonight and A leads to B sometimes.

Q. Five forced turnovers tonight. Can you talk about the opportunity of your defense and creating turnovers and capitalizing on them?
COACH FERENTZ: That is something new, the last two years. Last year we really started gaining ground on the take-away margin, which was great, and the defense seems to be picking up on that now and special teams.
Like I say, if we can clean up our ball security a little bit, but we're -- it's great to see. It's being opportunistic, it's guys hitting out there when it's appropriate and it's great to see.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

End of FastScripts

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