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October 31, 2009

Kirk Ferentz

COACH FERENTZ: Phil just said we were down 14, and 14 felt like 40 at that point. So what can I say? Just a fantastic effort by our football team. Really, really proud of the ways they fought and battled back.
You know, credit to Indiana. They played an extremely hard. I thought they played a great game, and did a lot of good things from a coaching standpoint and made it very difficult on us. But it's clearly just two different ballgames. They were totally in charge of the game for quite a while. And then the game turned, and I guess we had an Adrian Clayborn moment there with Tyler Sash's play.
Just like this game, I've never been in a game like this or seen a game like this. I've never seen a play where Tyler's playing a little video thing, and I've never seen it like that. So, you know, just can't say enough about our players. They continue to battle and fight and find a way to be successful. One thing they'll do, they'll play the entire game. So it's just a real credit to their resolve and just very, very happy for them.

Q. This is a Halloween you'll remember.
COACH FERENTZ: That's for sure. I may not answer the door tonight, but I definitely will.

Q. What does Ricky Stanzi's play in the third quarter after those five interceptions, what's that say about his confidence to keep throwing the ball?
COACH FERENTZ: There are a lot of great steers. I mentioned Towers a minute ago. I think that's one of the best stories out there. Speaking of things I've never seen before, I don't know that I've ever seen a quarterback struggle or have that much adversity and then come back and play, you know, like he's not affected. And that's been Rick's story line since he started playing for us a year plus ago.
No matter what happens, he just keeps on playing. Keeps his focus forward. It's a lot easier to tell a guy to do that or request a guy to do that than to do that. You know, today it was whatever. Like three or four straight series where we turned it over in the third quarter. But he just kept playing, kept leading our football team.
If there's one thing I'd say about Rick, besides resiliency, he's done a great job of leading our football team. Our players believe in him, and I think his resiliency has permeated with our football team.

Q. Was there ever a point where you thought about --
COACH FERENTZ: None of us had to say too much at that point because he did misread one coverage on one of those coming out from the south end zone. But the other ones he knows better than anybody. He knows what's going on. Nobody works harder, studies harder. Sometimes that's football.
We just encouraged him to keep playing. But it's a lot easier for us to say that than to actually do it. When it starts hitting the fan, it's not much fun, you know, and he's in a pretty prominent position.

Q. Is there ever a point you thought about pulling him for a series?
COACH FERENTZ: No, never entered my mind today. Never did. And that's no sleight our other guys. We like our other guys, too. But, you know, just for the reasons the way things panned out, again, I think the first thing I think of when I think of Rick Stanzi is he's a guy under center. We're on a pretty good streak right now. I'm not saying he's the only reason, but he's done a great job of leading our football team.

Q. You guys had sash and his play, was that kind of --
COACH FERENTZ: I thought that was a huge play. Certainly they're knocking on the door going in. And next thing you know we've got seven points on the board. And we're having a hard time getting points of any form or fashion at that stage, and we have a hard time moving the ball, just hanging on to the ball. So that was a huge thing. I thought it got our crowd going, too, and it energized our bench, but that's football.
Again, I go back to Adrian. We were struggling up there at Penn State. That was a puff ballgame. And that one play that Adrian made just seemed to lift everybody. And I thought Tower gave us that boost today.
Good teams have that. And the neat part is we've had good guys stepping up and making plays like that to contribute to things.

Q. Speak of the play of the defense, four interceptions in the third quarter, and they only get three?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, our defense has been pretty much that way all year. They've done a great job. Defensive coaches talk about their jobs are like being firemen. Their jobs are to go in there and put the fire out just like a relief pitcher. But beyond that we faced a lot of tough circumstances and situations today.
And I've never seen anybody on our team react in a negative way or a bad way. I've been around football a little bit now, and I've been around some teams where the offense turns it over three or four times and you start giving the defense guys dirty looks or just the negative body language and all that. Our guys don't do that.
It starts with Anger, Sash, Edds, Clayborn, we've got great, great experienced players that know how to stay positive. They're not worried about that stuff. They're worried about going out and doing their job. They encourage the other guys, too, and that's been a big part of our success. The guys support each other.
I think they're all smart enough to know bad things happen in football, good things happen, bad things happen, too. And nobody's making mistakes intentionally.

Q. Was special teams in the first half, the run formation saw no protectors. Is that something you guys have done a lot? Catching it and there was no protectors on the punts?
COACH FERENTZ: For us or them?

Q. No, for you.
COACH FERENTZ: We had our guys. We had our normal formation. We just shanked it. I don't think their guy tipped it, did he? I was told he didn't. We didn't do much on special teams in that first half.
You know, for us to win, we need to play well on special teams. We certainly struggled there today. I probably made the biggest bone head play of the day by going for the return. I got greedy there right before the half instead of just getting off the field. So I thought I maybe dug us even deeper.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, he was up in the box. Yeah, he was up in the box, yeah.

Q. Was he sitting out a couple of days sick?
COACH FERENTZ: As you guys know, he's got a foot situation that's, you know, we've been pushing the envelope all season long you know, so we're just trying to be a little smarter about that and trying to keep him off his feet.

Q. Does your team need Conklin's play?
COACH FERENTZ: Brett gave it a shot, he's been sore all week. Felt better as the week went on. But we didn't ask him to tackle anybody during the course of the week. You know, he tried today and just, you know, he was hurting the football team. So he told the coaches right away.
We got Joe in there, and it's been a theme all week. Joe stepped in there, did a great job. I'd say the same thing about Wegher, stepping in there. I thought he played a good football game for us. You know, had a couple of other guys, too, you know.
Our line is down. We've got that five-man rotation. Used to be a six-man, now we've got five. A lot of guys doing a lot of good things. Didn't have Colin Sandeman out there, that hurt us today. We're getting low on a lot of spots. We're down to number three on punt returners. So would feel a little better if we were going with our twos.

Q. They're 9-0?
COACH FERENTZ: Bottom line, the guys are finding a way to get it done. Just really proud of their effort.

Q. Does your team need to have its back against the wall in order to perform?
COACH FERENTZ: You could come up with that theory right now. It seems like that. But we haven't gotten off to a whole lot of fast starts this year. Certainly not intentional. You know, Indiana had something to do with that today, too. But the good news is our guys don't buckle. If they're ever going to buckle. Today would have been the day. But they just keep playing, believe in each other. They realize the game goes 60 minutes. But I thought maybe we dug a little too deep of a hole today.

Q. You made a move with McKnight a lot of coaches would not have made. That transfer. What was his reaction when you made that?
COACH FERENTZ: A big part of why we recruit them, we really liked him as a person. And his character and his attitude. We just thought the guy's a winner. We thought he could be our quarterback. We really did. And the way it worked out, Stanzi moved in front of him.
You know, Marvin's attitude was hey, he just wants to help the team win. He was that way in recruiting. We recruited him as a quarterback. We were sincere in that. But this guy's a winner, a team guy, a leader. It's just fun to see him.
There's a guy a year ago who really had no idea how to play receiver. Last week he pulls down the big play after telling Ken O'Keefe, "I think I can beat the guy inside." All players give information, lot of them give bad information. So that's a real credit to him.
You know, today, just he's supposed to be one of our quote unquote possession guys. He looked pretty good to me pulling out of that tackle and going down the sideline. I think he's a great young man. Nice to see good things happen to him.

Q. The injuries he's sustained as well as the roller coaster of every week, hanging at the edge of your seat. Were you ever worried he might be emotionally and physically spent?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, I've worried about the injuries. All that being said, you know, I've told our players, too, everybody's got problems. Everybody's got challenges. We're just more aware of what ours are. We're acutely aware of what our challenges are.
So you know, you can't spend a lot of time dwelling on that. Talked about Stanzi's resiliency. This team's resiliency in the second half. The other thing is we've got a lot of guys that just stepped in there and get the job done because this stuff started back in camp.
It's a real credit to our players. We rally right down the list, Wegher today, you think about our running backs, you know, Green's playing for New York, Hampton's gone. And now Brenson's gone. Well, Brenson, and then Robinson. So we've taken some hits yet we keep finding a way.
Just trying to figure out why defenses are playing us like we still have Stephfon Green. Got to get the word out that he's with the Jets. They're coming down there crowding that line.

Q. Both touchdowns the ball for the yardage came after the catch. Are those good examples that you don't need to run fly patterns to stretch the field?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, the 49ers are probably the ones who made that famous. Short throws and long runs. You get a lot of yardage if run after the catch if the guys will run them strong. It takes an accurate throw from the quarterback. Two things that have to happen. You have to have an accurate throw where the guys aren't turning and trying to catch the ball. That's the quarterback's job to let a guy catch it and have a chance to run.
Then after that, obviously, it's the guy having some ability to run the football after he's got it in his hands. Those are huge plays today. Gosh, those were huge plays, some great, great efforts.

Q. When you look at these come backs are they different or do they meld together after a while?
COACH FERENTZ: Every story has been unique. One of the common denominators is somebody sparked us. I keep going back to Clayborn. I thought Spievey had the big play at Wisconsin. And Towers today, three of those are defense, although Adrian's was a special teams play.
But that's the kind of team we are. You know, we're going to need help in some way, somehow to get things going to get the job done. I think it's a positive that a lot of those things have come from different areas. I think that's a positive, too. You get that going and you've got a shot.

Q. How much of a factor was the wind playing today? Rick throwing into it?
COACH FERENTZ: It was a factor. That's the only reason we chose to defer. We don't do that often. We did it. It worked against Penn State. Today was like Michigan State '03 where they took the ball and drove it down the field for a touchdown. So we lost our advantage there. And we didn't do much with the wind in the first half. We didn't do much of anything.
But I thought in the fourth quarter when they had it, the wind was picking up a little bit, and when they had to throw it and punt it, I thought that gave us a big edge.

Q. Obviously, frustration is mounting, but he's had a track record?
COACH FERENTZ: As I said earlier, there is one of the picks where he really misread the coverage. Just went the wrong direction with the football. You know, things like that. But you know, he works as hard as anybody we've got, probably harder, and studies more than anybody. I think he knows what's going on.
You just encourage him to keep playing, keep leading, and he did that. I said earlier, it's a lot easier for me to say or Ken to say keep going here. When it hits the fan, that's a tough thing when you're trying to go out and compete. Everybody knows what he's doing. So it's just one of those things. I think that's his number one trait.

Q. With his track record has he earned the benefit of the doubt to make these mistakes?
COACH FERENTZ: The question was about earlier everything about pulling him. No, he's our quarterback right now. It was tough last week, too. And then boom, right down the field in under two minutes. I think I'm not alone in this one, we all believe in Rick Stanzi. The guy has done a hell of a job.

Q. Does it work to your advantage in the national scene it just seems like you are still the underdog despite the fact that you're in the top four? And no matter where you go, everybody seems to be avoiding talking about Iowa and why everybody else has chances?
COACH FERENTZ: Probably for good reason. You look at our games. The other point I'd make, you know, that's college football, especially in conference play. Games are tough.
You know, I'll go back to 2002, we were coming along pretty good. We had a an explosive team that year. The one we dodged that year was Indiana. We went over there, and Grant Steen picked off three in our end zone or our red zone to save us. I think we won by six points or something like that. That was probably our toughest conference game that year.
That's just college football. Tennessee-Alabama last week. Games like that are going to come up. If you can survive those games and find a way to win those games, then, you know, it's to your advantage. That's one thing we have done. We're not winning style points. None of us are worried about it. I guess I'm old-fashioned. To me it's just more fun coming off with a win. We'll come to all that other stuff later.
I got asked during the week on one of the shows about the BCS stuff. I really don't pay attention to it, because it really doesn't matter. If we lose, I know we're going down fast. If we win, they're going to put us wherever. But I don't have much control of that. So it's all we can try to do is win the game we have in front of us. That's as simple as it is.

Q. Teams like you're talking about have those games once or twice a year. You have those games every week?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, and I'll go back we weren't in the BCS picture in 2004, but we were co-championship in the conference that year. We got spanked in two games. Really spanked in that one. Then we came back.
I've got to get my notes out, but I think we won by four points, five points a game. Ran the table, won eight games and finished it up with one against LSU. You couldn't cut it any closer than that. But all I know is we won eight straight that year and it felt pretty good. We won the championship. Got championship rings which felt pretty good.
So, yeah, it would be wonderful to win by a lot. But I'm not worried about that, and I'm not sure our guys are.

Q. 28 points is more than your team has scored in six of its games this year. Can you talk about what it's like when the offense is clicking that way?
COACH FERENTZ: It's just big plays. I caught myself look up there in the last couple of minutes. We were 400 yards plus offense at that time. There was no way I would have predicted that in the third quarter the way things were going. That's football. We made some big plays. They were trying to make it tough on us. We got a couple of guys to break free, and that's just what happened. But, again, that's just the ebb and flow of football, that's why you keep playing until the game's over.

Q. Those big plays give your team on the sideline and the huddle? They seem to be momentum changers?
COACH FERENTZ: When you're struggling, big plays are huge. And conversely, that's what gets you beat on the other side of the football as we found out. You give up big plays and it makes it very tough to win. Turn the ball over, it takes it tough to win, too. So we're fortunate to survive that.
But we needed some juice today. We needed it. Got it from Sash, McNutt, Derrell, those are all big, big things. It was comfortable in the last two minutes, but boy, not until then.

Q. Because this team knows it just can't step on the field and beat everybody, that you have the mentality of being a 60-minute team?
COACH FERENTZ: I think we understand that. First of all, we're not the -- probably the most talented team, and I'm certainly not the smartest coach. Okay. I'm a line coach, so we're handicapped there.
But the other things we've endured. We've had a lot of guys injured. That's a fact. I'm not crying about it. But we've had a lot of guys out of the lineup. Greenman couldn't go today, Sandeman back there. But that's one of the beauties of this team. Guys are jumping in there and doing what they can to help us. That's fun.
So the way we're operating right now I can live with the results. It wouldn't have been good to lose today. I wasn't looking forward to that. But I can't complain. The guys worked hard during the week. I thought we had a good week of preparation.
Didn't look like we were ready, but the guys have worked hard. As long as we're doing things right on a daily basis, we'll live with the results and go from there. But, yeah, it's hard to discourage this group, I'll say that.

Q. You talked about right before halftime the decision to call the timeout and force them to punt?
COACH FERENTZ: I said earlier, you're talking about the biggest bone head play of the year -- or maybe the day. But that was me. I got greedy. I was hoping we could get a return, get a spark there and take a couple shots down the field and get three points. You know, as soon as we did it I just, you know, that's my fault. That was just a stupid play, you know. I was hoping they'd bail me out. Thank goodness they did because that was stupid. That was really stupid.

Q. How pleased were you with Wegher's performance?
COACH FERENTZ: Really pleased. You know, we were all confident. We thought Brandon was a young guy early in the season. It's a little bit like Jewel Hampton last year, but Jewel grew as the year went on. He was a pretty good football player by mid season on.
And I read somewhere this morning, I think it was, Brendan's yards per carry like the last 30, 38, somebody did the research. I know it's accurate. He's in a lot of sticky situations when he's been in there. But it didn't mean he's not a good back, and this guy's got a hardness to him. I think he rises to the competition. You know, I think he embraced the challenge this week.
So it was really good to see him do what he did. But I'm not shocked. It was great to see him get that last touchdown. Yeah, it will be a good confidence booster for him.

End of FastScripts

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