home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


April 12, 2011

Kirk Ferentz

Tyler Nielsen

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Kirk Ferentz. Coach, thanks for joining us. Give us a quick opening statement and we'll take a few questions.
COACH FERENTZ: It's great to get back on the field with the players. This is always an enjoyable time of year. From that standpoint it's pure football and pure teaching as opposed to game preparation. That part has been enjoyable.
We have a relatively young football team right now, so we have an awful lot of work to do, graduating a lot of good players over the last couple years, a lot of challenges.
But we're excited about that. We have some interesting young players coming up, too. It promises to be interesting, exciting hopefully. We're just hopefully going to have a good week this week, turn the page and get ready for August.
THE MODERATOR: Let's go to questions.

Q. Kirk, do you have any further update on last night's email about Dan Heiar?
COACH FERENTZ: No, just that he was involved in an accident. It's significant. We expect him to be hospitalized for a while. We just hope everything progresses forward in a good fashion.

Q. Can you talk about what happened or anything?
COACH FERENTZ: You know, it was an accident. There's not a lot to say. It was a one-car accident. I read that. I don't know where that came from. But that is accurate. Right now we're just worried about him having a total recovery.

Q. Kirk, with Nebraska coming in, kind of a natural border rival being established there, can you comment a bit on the Huskers coming in?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, certainly it's going to be a different time period or a different experience for everybody involved in the conference, and I think exciting. I think most people are excited about the expansion.
On a bigger picture front, I think everybody is enthused about what Nebraska is going to bring to the Big Ten. It's just a high-caliber institution with a tremendous football program. That part's exciting. Then more locally, I think probably the most requested team or opponent through the years has been Nebraska. At least over the last 12 years as I travel around the state, I know people, when you go to events, ask about, are you going to be picking them up in the non-conference game, outside of playing Iowa State, which is a traditional intrastate rival.
I think locally there's going to be a lot of enthusiasm from people in Iowa. You get out towards western Iowa, they're closer to Nebraska's campus than ours.

Q. Your teams have traditionally been fundamentally sound. How important is spring ball to teaching fundamentals the right way, especially with a young team?
COACH FERENTZ: It's certainly important. We have a lot of work to do on that front. We are young right now. Probably like most teams, I'm sure it's this way everywhere, you have a significant amount of guys that are missing time, guys that would probably be in your two-deep. It's a great challenge.
But we have a young team. It's a fun challenge, too. I think we're all racing against the clock right now. You can only do so much in a given period. So that's all we're focused on is trying to move forward. We're hoping to be a sound, fundamental team right now. Right now we got a lot of work to do.

Q. Coming off of somewhat of a tumultuous off-season, is there a sense of relief getting back to spring ball, getting back to football, just practicing?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, you know, no matter how the season goes, that's how I feel anytime we start spring practice. First of all, it's the thing you most enjoy about coaching football is your time with the players. Certainly that's accelerated over the last couple weeks, that's good. The other thing about spring practice, everybody's got a clean start right now. Everybody is 0-0. Everybody has a lot of questions that need to be resolved and addressed, that type of thing.
It's always interesting. It's always different. It's always good to be on the field again. It's usually pretty ugly. That's what this spring looks like so far (laughter).

Q. Given that James played a couple of years ago, do you see him having some of the typical new-starter struggles that a lot of new starting quarterbacks have or has he made a very smooth transition in the sense that it's almost like he's not replacing anybody, but coming back to play like he did a couple years ago?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, that's kind of how I look at it. Hardly a grizzled veteran. He came in in relief when Ricky got hurt in one game and then started the next two. That was a great experience. I thought he did a real admirable job in a tough circumstance, a very challenging circumstance over in Columbus two years ago. So that has to be a great experience. A week later, it was a whole different experience at home against Minnesota. So that's all going to help.
I think the thing I was most impressed with was just how he prepared last year. I think all of us had total confidence, if he had been called upon, he would have done a nice job. I just looked at him, I think he was a good football player that sometimes in your career you get stuck behind another good player. Ricky had a tremendous career here and will go on and play in the years to come. So I think it's a position we had a pretty good football player playing behind another pretty good football player. We're all excited to see him performance this year. All of us are excited about what James can bring for our team.

Q. Given the depth and injuries you've had at runningback over the last couple years, do you have any clarity as to who might be behind Marcus Coker at this point?
COACH FERENTZ: Pretty short list right now. I would tie that into the Vandenberg discussion. Marcus is a guy we had good feelings about last year. Unfortunately got hurt early in camp. It's a real credit to him because he missed so much time, yet he gained ground in a short amount of time. When he got an opportunity, he did a really good job. I think we have a lot of players on our team that are in that situation.
But to answer your question, I think the two top guys, we have Jason White, who will be a fifth-year senior, and Jason has done a real nice job, I think he's improved with every opportunity. Also De'Andre Johnson, a young guy who was hurt in high school, had an ACL issue, wasn't at full speed in the fall. It was tough to evaluate him quite frankly because he was not in great shape and his knee was not strong yet. He looks like a totally different player now. Just missed so much valuable time last fall, this is really an important time right now for him to get caught up on some things.

Q. Wondering your thoughts on the addition of the Big Ten championship game? Do you think that will help or hurt teams come BCS Bowl time?
COACH FERENTZ: I guess it will help the one that wins and hurt the one that loses, if they're potentially both undefeated. It's the trend in college football right now. I think we're all excited about joining along with that. You know, it's going to be really exciting I think for everybody in the divisional play and certainly for the teams that make it to the championship game, it will be a great experience.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach. Appreciate the time. Next on the teleconference we have Tyler Nielsen. Thanks for joining us. If you can talk a little bit about how spring practice has been going, then we'll take a few questions.
TYLER NIELSEN: It's been going by pretty fast. A lot of young guys coming in next year to fill in some big shoes. I think they're learning quite a bit this spring. We're looking forward to finishing up spring ball on a good note, full head of steam into the fall.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Tyler. We'll take some questions from the media.

Q. Tyler, I wanted to ask you about James Morris, how you thought he responded last year when put in the role he was put in, what you see from him this year and in the future?
TYLER NIELSEN: You know, he stepped in and did a good job last fall. Kind of a tough position to be in, stepping in, playing middle linebacker, making all the calls out there on the field. But he did a good job. There's a lot of things for him to learn especially at that position. He's learned a lot of those things this spring. Hopefully all the things he learned can carry over into next fall and he can step up in the game and be an even better player in the fall.

Q. Last year you were more of an inexperienced type of player at linebacker with a very experienced defensive line. What is it like now and how is the defensive line fitting together after losing players?
TYLER NIELSEN: You know, we lose a lot of good guys up front, but similar to a couple years ago. The question then was, How are we going to replace guys like Mitch King and Matt Kroul. Expect the same thing this year. Got guys like Karl Klug and Christian Ballard stepped up. We expect the same thing this year. You have guys like Tom Nardo, Steve Bigach, Carl Davis, younger guys that you haven't heard of, older guys that haven't played much, that are going to play a big role in the defensive line next fall.
Then you have older guys, more experienced guys, like Mike Daniels, Broderick Binns have been around playing a little bit, they're going to lead the group up front, do a great job. We expect great things from them in the fall.

Q. You're slightly on the western side of the state. How much excitement is there for you about playing Nebraska?
TYLER NIELSEN: You know, it is a big deal on the western side of the state. Anytime you get past the central half of the state to the west, you're going to start seeing some Nebraska flags flying around. The rivalry picks up over there.
It's going to be one of those games that is going to be a tough-fought game each year. It's a game we look forward to. They've already nicknamed us Armageddon. I think that's pretty neat. It's something we look forward to. It will be a hard-fought game each year.

Q. Have you talked to Dan Heiar or anybody from his family? If so, what is the reaction to him and what is the reaction from the team to his situation?
TYLER NIELSEN: Yeah, you know, I haven't spoke to him directly. I've heard from a few teammates about what is going on. It's unfortunate. We hope he gets better. We have a team meeting coming up. We hope to get some updates on him, see if we can go visit him. We wish him the best. Hopefully he's able to recover well.

Q. You were recently named to the Lott Trophy list. Talk about what that pre-season honor means to you.
TYLER NIELSEN: It's a prestigious award and everything. But I'm not really worried about what happens pre-season. I'm more focused on what I do on the field during the season, what I can do to help the team win.
If everything works out, I become a finalist, so be it. But really what I'm focused on is improving, being the best player I can to help the team win.

Q. I know you have some rivalry trophies out there. Would you like to see one for the Nebraska series and do you have any idea on what it would be?
TYLER NIELSEN: We have some Iowa trophies out there. I hear they nicknamed this game Armageddon. I think it would be neat to see maybe a trophy that says Armageddon. It's going to be a good rivalry. We're excited to play them.

Q. Talk about your defensive backfield, what they're bringing to spring practice.
TYLER NIELSEN: Yeah, it's a high-energy group back there. We have to replace a couple of safeties. There's a lot of competition this spring at the safety position. There's guys returning like Shaun Prater. He's high energy, he's going to be flying out there on the field for us, making big plays. You have Micah Hyde, well-documented big plays in the Bowl game with his interception returns. Guys like Greg Castillo and B.J. Lowery at the corner position are going to step up and be huge for us this year. Jordan Bernstine is looking good this year. We expect big things from all of those guys.
THE MODERATOR: Tyler, we appreciate the time. Best of luck this spring.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297