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UNIVERSITY OF IOWA MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 29, 2013
COACH FERENTZ:¬† Welcome, everybody.¬† First of all, just follow up on James Morris, congratulate him on the honors, all‑Big Ten defensive player of the week, second time.¬† I think we've had two other guys that had that same distinction, (indiscernible) and Adrian Clayborn.¬† Pretty elite company there.¬† Happy for him.
Captains are the same four guys.¬† James Morris, Chris Kirksey, Brett Van Sloten and Mark Weisman.¬† Then injury‑wise, Dom Alvis is still out, so he will not play Saturday.¬† We'll get back to work today.¬† We got a big challenge on our hands getting ready for Wisconsin, so we'll start that this afternoon.
I'll throw it out for questions.
Q.¬† (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ:¬† The Penn State game, national TV game.¬† Week before we went to Arizona, I believe, he was third team going down there.¬† Got moved up that week due to an injury.¬† Found himself on a nationally televised game.¬† I think I'm correct we gave up three points that game.¬† When Tarp went out, he went in and did a great job.¬† Heck of a way to start his career.
I got questioned somewhere in the last six months just regarding the down part of it.¬† I must have slept through that part of his career.¬† He's fought some injuries behind the scenes.¬† If there's a down, that's a down.¬† It's limited him a little bit.¬† But that's like most players.
Guy works extremely hard on the practice field.¬† He's unbelievable in terms of his preparation away from the field, away from the building.¬† He's a great leader, just a great role model to be on the football team.¬† Scary smart student on top of it.¬† Yet he's a normal guy.¬† I think that's why he's able to be a leader.
We've had a lot of outstanding players come through here.¬† As I mentioned, the two guys that had multiple Big Ten players of the week.¬† I think Clayborn is special teams for one of the two.¬† So, I mean, those guys are pretty good players.¬† I'm not saying he's going to go to that level, but that's a pretty good club to be involved in there.¬† Jonathan Babineaux is still playing.
Q.¬† What about specifically with this team, what are you seeing in him that might be different than before?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† He's a more experienced player.¬† That's the biggest thing.¬† There's nothing like experience, for guys that use it.
One thing about James Morris, anything he has, he'll use.¬† Experience is a part of that.¬† Some guys just kind of float through life, so experience isn't that big a deal.¬† That's not the case with him.¬† He's one of those guys that, you know, goes back and reflects on everything I think and studies and improves from it.¬† He's just a heck of a football player.
This is the year of the linebacker in the Big Ten, no question about that.¬† We're getting ready to play against an outstanding player, too, in the way he's built, his mental makeup.¬† A lot of good linebackers in our conference this year.
Q.¬† Wisconsin seems to be about the same.
COACH FERENTZ:¬† It's a little bit unusual in that we haven't played in a couple years, so there's been a gap.¬† We've been able to watch each other on film I think.¬† Certainly the coaching change.
So, yeah, offensively they look very similar, not identical but very similar to what they've been doing, and for a good reason.¬† Defensively they did make a wholesale change there.¬† It's a very different team, they're a 34 team which is unusual in college football.
But they play very well.¬† I mean, the bottom line is, both sides of the ball and their special teams are really well‑coached.¬† They play hard.¬† They're very disciplined as a football team.¬† I think that's been characteristic of their teams there for quite some time.
If you go back and look at Utah State film, you see the same thing.¬† Those guys, it's interesting, they played at Wisconsin last September, I believe it was, and, yeah, it was a heck of a football game.¬† Two very good football teams playing, two well‑coached teams playing against each other.¬† It's kind of ironic now Coach Andersen is there coaching on the other sideline.¬† They're very well‑coached.
Q.¬† Can you see Barry's fingerprints on it still, some of the principles still exist?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† I think that's fair.¬† Again, Barry was never a 34 guy, as I recall.¬† But the bottom line is, I've said this on the teleconference earlier, when I left here in '89, that was a program that for whatever reasons had fallen on hard times.¬† When I got back here nine years later, it was the total opposite.¬† They were at the top floor instead of the bottom floor.
There's certain things that you do that are fundamentally part of who you are and what you are.¬† Certainly Barry did a great job of establishing that as a football coach.¬† I think the two successors have been both smart enough to say, This has been a pretty good formula here for quite a while.¬† You're not going to get too far off that path.
Q.¬† Is it comforting in any sense that you have three senior linebackers to go against this running game now?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† Yeah, it's nice having three seniors that are good players, for sure, against any attack.¬† And last week they had to be very active and involved.¬† Now Chris will actually play nearer the ball, closer to the football this week, for not the whole game but a lot of the game, which he's more of a DB a lot of times.¬† So it's a very different style for us.
It's going to be a big transition for us on both sides of the football.¬† These guys are very different than the offensive teams we've played the last couple weeks.¬† They're very different defensively, too, obviously with the 34 scheme.
Having three good linebackers is great.¬† They've got some pretty good linebackers, too, which I'm sure they feel good about.
Q.¬† There's stories this week about Gordon after the decommit.¬† You've had players who decommitted from elsewhere.¬† It happens everywhere.¬† Is it something you just accept as part of the coaching game and let roll off your back or are there times when it really does hurt?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† Exactly.¬† That's why there's national letter of intents and signing days.¬† To me the issue is early signing.¬† I think that's probably the best solution because when somebody signs a letter of intent, there's no contract.
It's just the way recruiting is.¬† I don't think it's ever a surprise when a good home‑state player stays in his home state when they have a great program.¬† I think that's exactly what happened.
He was a guy we liked an awful lot in the recruiting process.¬† We still like him a lot.¬† I am sure he's still a great young man.¬† He's obviously a very good football player.
It's kind of part of the recruiting deal.¬† It's kind of like bad breaks or injuries, you know, if you can't deal with those kinds of things, you probably ought to do something else.¬† You go to the NFL, they do have contracts in the NFL that are binding.¬† But letters of intent are binding, too, for the most part.
Q.¬† What do you remember from the game against Wisconsin in 2010?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† We lost by a point, that's what I remember.¬† It was really disappointing.¬† I like the one the year before.¬† Let's talk about that one (laughter).
We've had a lot of games back and forth with them.¬† The series has been a really good series, other than '99.
Q.¬† Since the 2010 game, they had a fourth‑and‑four in the last route they converted.¬† When you look at where they're going, you have kind of struggled, do you think it was a kick in the gut, that game?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† We had three in a row that were really tough.¬† I think it was three in a row.¬† It was a tough stretch.¬† You can pick any play, any instance out of there.¬† It was a tough stretch.¬† You could have brought up the 2010 Northwestern game a week ago.¬† That was a kick in the gut, too.
Anytime you lose, it's a kick in the gut.¬† It's ancient history; really doesn't have much to do with this game this year.¬† A lot of these guys playing this game were in high school in 2010.
Q.¬† You don't think it can linger on into another season?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† I hope not.¬† But that was 2011, a couple years ago.¬† That's ancient history to me right now.
Q.¬† (Question regarding James White.)
COACH FERENTZ:¬† We don't recruit anyone that we don't think is going to be become a good player.¬† James White is kind of the forgotten guy in some ways.¬† He played with a really good runningback last couple years.¬† I don't know if there's been a better back in our conference in quite awhile than Ball.¬† Gordon has great numbers, and rightfully so.¬† But James White has been an outstanding player.
I don't know if you want to call it in a quiet way, but they've had a good 1‑2 punch for quite a while now.¬† They always have good backs.¬† Boy, those guys are a good pair.
Q.¬† There have been some quick postgame handshakes in the conference this fall.¬† Is this a notion that's old‑fashioned?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† I don't know if it's old‑fashioned.¬† I don't know when the tradition began.¬† You know, I don't know.¬† It just seems like everybody tries to read a lot into it.¬† I don't know if you're supposed to hug people, shake hands.¬† I really don't know what protocol is.
I can just tell you this.¬† Me personally, I think it's uncomfortable before a game to talk to an opponent.¬† We're both thinking about the same thing, I would assume.¬† Our team wants to beat their team, their team wants to beat ours.
After the game, what do you say?¬† If you win, what do you say?¬† If you lose, what do you say?¬† I've hardly Pop Warner, but I've been doing this for 15 years here now, three years at Maine, and I have not found a good thing to talk about before or after games.
If I were the commissioner of sports, I'd say, hey, fellowship, we have a great conference, great coaches.¬† I have an awful lot of respect for everybody in the league.¬† That's true of everybody that's been in the league since I've been here.¬† It's a great league to coach in.
I don't want to get in the comparison game, but I can't imagine there's been better camaraderie conference‑wise than the Big Ten.¬† So, I mean, everybody wants to read into who likes who, Sally is dating Joey, all that stuff.¬† I mean, it's just silly stuff to me.
Q.¬† You know the cameras are rolling on that moment.
COACH FERENTZ:¬† You know, believe me, I'm not thinking about that.¬† I just want to get in the locker room.¬† That's all I want to do.¬† Win, lose or draw, I want to get in the locker room, period.¬† Maybe that's wrong, but that's how I feel.
Q.¬† As the season goes, people are going to stack the box on you.¬† Have you talked about having to mix things up a little bit on first down?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† I know you haven't covered us in a while.¬† Even when we can't run the ball, they stack the box.¬† There's a perception, imagine that, even in the coaching.¬† If you can throw it, you got to be able to throw it to get them not to stack it.
Q.¬† Is that something that needs to happen for you in the second half of games?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† No, I don't think so.¬† I mean, I haven't looked at statistics that way.¬† But, you know, I figured that was on the agenda somewhere.
I'll give you a parallel in my mind.¬† Like, you know, how do you explain (indiscernible) 11 penalties in our second ballgame, I think it was.¬† Pretty sure it was.¬† We had three the other day.
I promise you, we have not done any drills on penalties.¬† We don't do up‑downs, laps, when guys get them.¬† Some people do, and some people find that effective.¬† I don't know.¬† But to me it's concentration, it's a mental thing.
We had no false starts up at Columbus, and that's a tough place for an offensive team to play.¬† I think it's just a matter of, you know, you got to concentrate your way through things.¬† You know, I know it's a fact we've been leading every game at halftime.¬† It's obviously a fact that we haven't won every game.
Somehow, some way you just have to concentrate better.¬† I think the solution is in concentration, execution, than it is doing up‑downs or laps, that type of thing.
Q.¬† This is the fourth time you've played a team coming off a bye week if you add Iowa State in there.¬† You've been through it a few times now.¬† Do you sense teams are better prepared?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† Not necessarily.¬† You know, I did detect that during the summer.¬† I don't look at our schedule too hard, the grid.¬† But going through in the summertime, I take an hour, somewhere in there, just kind of look at it.
I don't know how many times we've started on the road in the Big Ten since we've been here, but I know it's more than half, well more than half.¬† They always say it's the computer.¬† I don't know how the bye weeks get determined.
It's what you do with the bye week.¬† You know, so if they got a head start on us, then they did.¬† It's our job, we have to overcome it.¬† We have ample time to be prepared.¬† That won't be a factor in the game, I don't think.
Q.¬† Your defensive ends played well Saturday.¬† Did you see that coming?¬† Drew is a new player.
COACH FERENTZ:¬† Drew is young in that he's only a second‑year chronological on campus.¬† He's a true sophomore.¬† Didn't play all that much last year.
It was about this time last year, roughly somewhere midpoint, we decided it would be best to play him because we thought he'd be a candidate to play this year.¬† So we made that decision.¬† At least he got his feet wet and he was working with the first and second group.¬† So for us to be successful, we need to have guys step up.
Mike has been our rotation guy, has done a really nice job.¬† I thought he played his best game on Saturday.¬† Then Nate got thrown in there for a little bit more exposure and did a good job, too.¬† One thing, he'll go hard.¬† He may not always go the right way, but he'll go hard.
To be a good football team, we need to have somebody ready to go.¬† That's really true at every position.¬† Hopefully we won't get tested in too many spots.¬† We have a total conference.¬† Those guys have to play hard and play well.
Q.¬† The overtime touchdown to C.J., how does that carry over to Jake?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† I think everything a player does, it's on the positive side, yeah, it sure helps with everybody 'cause just like guys that aren't prepared or didn't know what to do in a situation, that causes some doubt.¬† You know, you always try to give people the benefit of the doubt.¬† Maybe they're inexperienced, they weren't quite prepared for that.¬† You hope they grow from those things.
We all know quarterback is a different position, and everything you do is scrutinized more than other positions.¬† So, yeah, when you come through and make a play like that, which he did, football's a team thing, but basically on that one, that was him making a great effort.
He knew where the problems were going to come from, he acknowledged that, had faith in C.J. to get where he needed to get.¬† It was really two guys that hooked up.¬† I'm not saying the other guys didn't do their jobs.¬† Two guys going maybe above and beyond to make that happen.¬† We've had a lot of those that don't work out.¬† So it was certainly good to see it, see us connect on that.¬† That was a really good thing.
The thing that's impressed me about him, again, he responds from 'bad things,' and then also he does really have good awareness out there.¬† He hasn't played much, but to have awareness, he knew what was going on on that play all the way.
Q.¬† The run game, the season Abbrederis is having is impressive.¬† What are your thoughts on him?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† I've been watching him for a couple years now.¬† If you watch their film offensively, you cannot help but see him play.¬† As I understand, I think he was a walk‑on when he went there.¬† I think he's one of the best players in the conference personally.¬† He's just a fantastic football player.¬† He's been that way for a couple years.¬† You name it, receiving, blocking, this guy is a football player.
Q.¬† What separates him in your mind from other receivers?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† He just runs around, makes plays.¬† He is non‑stop.¬† Without studying him, again, watching him, watching other people on film, they match up against Wisconsin, you can't help but notice No.4.¬† Doesn't matter who the opponent is, he has really played well.
Q.¬† Tevaun Smith made catches in the first play of the overtime, 14‑yard gain.¬† Is that a sign of his maturity and you trusting him to be in right spot?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† Our four can become like their four, that would be a good thing.¬† I'd really like to see that happen.¬† Tevaun is improving.¬† That's possible.
He was actually like the second option on that play.¬† They covered the guy we were trying to go to, and Jake did a good job of finding him.¬† That was a nice job on Jake's part.¬† Then Tevaun made a play after the run.¬† That's a big part of the passing game, if you can get yards after you catch the ball, which we have not done a great job of.¬† But that was good to see.¬† He's climbing.¬† He's coming on.
Q.¬† The reaction when you heard Brett left Wisconsin for Arkansas?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† I haven't thought a lot about it.¬† I was surprised.¬† Went home that night and told my wife, If I'm ever surprised at what happens in college football, just hit me with a baseball bat that.
Surprised me a little bit.¬† I just didn't see it coming.¬† I wasn't thinking too globally at that point either.
But it's one of those choices.¬† Coaches a lot of times, successful coaches, have a lot of choices to make all the time.¬† He was more than successful at Wisconsin, extremely successful.¬† Other people want to try to lure good people to their places.¬† That's not uncommon in what we do.¬† It's a choice that Brett made.¬† You know, it worked out.
It will work out for him, I'm sure.¬† It's worked out well for Wisconsin.¬† They're doing really well.
Q.¬† Is your ability to do some different things defensively, giving offenses different looks, is that a personnel thing?¬† Do you recruit to be able to do that?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† No, I think it's kind of the way it is right now.¬† Last week that package was good for who we were playing.¬† But it was only good in certain situations.¬† You know, we've used that in the past going back a ways.
But we are I don't want to say linebacker heavy, but we have guys that we feel pretty comfortable with right now at that position.¬† A little short on the D‑line.¬† It makes sense.¬† It's something we'll try to utilize the rest of the way if appropriate.
Q.¬† Do you feel like you're more prepared against running quarterbacks?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† No matter whether it's four down or three down, it helps to have guys that can run on the field.¬† We're a little faster certainly with that group.
But, again, a big part of it is that we're a linebacker senior team right now.¬† We've got three guys.¬† We usually don't have three seniors starting.¬† We really feel like Quinton could play well if he got the opportunity.¬† Gives him a chance to get out there.¬† Then we threw Spearman in there, too that we've identified, we're trying to bring him along.
But, yeah, it helps.¬† Seems like we play a lot of teams that have fleet‑footed quarterbacks. ¬†That's just kind of college football right now.
Q.¬† You've thrown a lot of wide receivers on the field after Kevonte.¬† You have five redshirts right now.¬† Are you seeing some separation?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† They're moving down the road, but none of them are there yet.¬† Kevonte is our most experienced and polished guy.¬† He clearly is at the top right now.¬† Then Tevaun, since he's starting right now, we rank him as our number two guy for obvious reasons.¬† But he's a young guy.¬† I talked about Drew Ott being a true sophomore, and Tevaun is the same way.
He's on the right path.¬† All the other guys have their individual stories.¬† They're improving weekly.¬† That's healthy.¬† Pleased with the guys we're redshirting right now.¬† We're seeing some good things from them in practice, too.
Granted a lot of that is card is up in the air, run this, run that.¬† It's a little different when you have to integrate them into a system.¬† They're doing a good job.¬† We went through a period there where we got caught shorthanded.¬† I think we're on the right path.
Q.¬† How much is your runningback play tied to Kyle and Louis?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† It helps immensely.¬† It's well‑documented, last year we were young up front.¬† We had two seniors that really hadn't played much.¬† We had some injury issues.¬† We paid a price.¬† It was hard.
If last year was James Morris' bad year, maybe that was part of it.¬† Like I said, I watch a guy on film every week.¬† He looks pretty good to me.¬† This guy's a good football player.
Q.¬† What does it say about Louis?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† That's Trinca‑Pasat.¬† I'm not saying he's Matt Kroul, but he's kind of like Matt Kroul.¬† You can't make those guys quit.¬† It's hard to get them off the field practice wise, game field.¬† Mitch was a little flashier, but Louis is a guy that works hard.¬† Boy, he's perfect for us.
Q.¬† (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ:¬† Yeah, I don't know where that came from, but it was a good time to have it, that's for sure.¬† It was welcomed.
Q.¬† Did your defense execute well in overtime in those four plays?¬† Your secondary must have been doing a good job.
COACH FERENTZ:¬† There's always some warts.¬† If they don't catch you, in other words, it's hard to be perfect on every play.¬† We weren't perfect, especially on one of them.¬† But he wasn't in a position where he could take advantage of it.¬† So that's the great thing about football.
But, yeah, I mean, at that point I think our crowd was certainly into it in a way that I haven't heard in quite a while.¬† Our players were into it.¬† The bench was into it.¬† It was a good way to finish the game, for sure.¬† Probably got kicked off with the offense doing their job with the ball.
So it was good.¬† That's the fun of it all, when it all comes together, everybody's working hard.¬† But it was a team effort, for sure.
Q.¬† What C.J. is doing around the goal line, catching touchdowns, is that what kind of makes him an NFL commodity?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† Big guys with that ability.¬† Yeah, the catch the other day wasn't necessarily like a guy hanging on him catch.¬† It was him getting to where he had to get to make the play.¬† Obviously he's got good extension.¬† He's a tough guy to cover.¬† It's like playing basketball against a guy that's taller than you, has good ball skills, which C.J. does.¬† That certainly will help him, yeah.
Q.¬† (Question regarding Wisconsin's runningbacks.)
COACH FERENTZ:¬† I think it's a reflection of the coaching that they get.¬† Again, going back in history, since I've been back, which is a significant period of time now, Wisconsin has just been an extremely well‑coached football team.¬† You know, so it's like the penalty thing.¬† A lot of that's coaching and concentration.¬† I think that's a big part of ball security.
My guess is they don't let you line up back there if you're a guy that's sloppy with the football.¬† I think they probably instill that in their players.¬† They've had a lot of good runningbacks through the years, they've got two good ones right now and another one coming along.¬† I think they understand how important it is to protect the football.
Q.¬† How difficult is it to the jet sweep?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† It's obviously hard.¬† It's been a big thing for us.¬† They had it on the road for us in '09 right off the bat with that same package.¬† They ended up not getting a lot of points, but it felt like we were losing 25‑0 at halftime.¬† We couldn't slow that thing down.
Q.¬† (Question regarding the crowd.)
COACH FERENTZ:¬† It's only positive.¬† If it's not going to help us Saturday, we still have to go out and find a way to play better than our opponent.¬† That's the fun in football, when you get it going a little bit, get the crowd into it.
Our crowd has been fantastic.¬† Our chant support has been unbelievable for a long, long time.¬† I'm going back to '81.¬† But it always helps when you make some plays to help get them into it.¬† It was a good sequence, for sure.¬† It was fun to have that electricity going.
Q.¬† (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ:¬† At one point I told to our team, I make it occasionally, we're moving into November now. ¬†All the pre‑season hype and all the publications, all just the on and on analysis, expertise, blah, blah, blah, really doesn't matter.¬† What it comes down to is what happens on the field.
This is a time of year where things become a little bit more clear.¬† You know, I mean, the three teams that beat us, we all felt going into the games that those were really good teams.¬† At least that's what we were seeing.¬† I'm not totally surprised.
But there's a lot of football to be played yet.¬† But all three of those football teams are good.¬† We're playing another one this week that they've got two losses, you could argue they're a one‑loss team.¬† They're a really good football team.¬† We've going to have our work cut out for us.
Q.¬† (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ:¬† We got a couple guys nicked up.¬† We're practicing today.¬† We should be fine.
Q.¬† It's unusual to get 30‑plus questions during a press conference without a question about the quarterback.
COACH FERENTZ:¬† What's going on?
Q.¬† The other team's quarterback, what do you see?
COACH FERENTZ:¬† A guy who has done a very nice job.¬† Yeah, they're built differently than some of the teams we played.¬† Two weeks ago we played a team that had a quarterback, a runningback, and everything revolved around them.¬† Not that other guys weren't really good players.¬† They were.¬† They've got an excellent surrounding cast.¬† Obviously last week the quarterback was a big focal point.
This team's a little different in that they've got outstanding runningbacks, and the runningbacks come from all different angles.¬† Again, as I said, they've got one of the best receivers I think in the country on their team.¬† Their quarterback has done a wonderful job I think of making them go.¬† Sometimes people take that for granted.¬† But he's a really good football player and he's a winner, just like the last couple guys we've played against.
Q.¬† (No microphone.)
COACH FERENTZ:¬† We're going to counter that.¬† Not a lot of their guys have experience against us either.¬† Nor did they come to Kinnick.¬† The only strange part about all that is we are border states.¬† But we've covered that territory before, too, just with the expansion.¬† The good news is moving forward we'll are playing each year, which is what it should be, because we have a trophy involved.¬† Nobody mentioned the trophy yet.¬† Quarterback and trophy.
It won't come easy.¬† Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports