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December 23, 2011

Hawks arrive in Arizona

The Hawkeyes left the cold winter of Iowa and landed in Arizona on Thursday as they get ready to play Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl on December 30. After arriving, head coach Kirk Ferentz talked about the matchup, what the depth chart is looking like at running back, and much more. Read what he had to say right here.

Opening remarks:

"We're awfully excited; a couple Sundays ago I got the call from Robert [Shelton] with our invitation back to the Insight Bowl. I wanted to say thank you to Robert, Duane [Woods] and everyone associated with the selection process. We were thrilled and our players were really thrilled to get the news that we were coming back here. Last year was our first trip here to Arizona. We played in the state of Arizona a couple times but it was the first time for us to experience the hospitality. What a tremendous venue and I cannot say enough about the hospitality that was extended to us last year. Again, we are just thrilled to be here, even more so now because our players and especially our returning players know how big of a deal it is to be here."

"Much like last year, we are facing a tremendous opponent. Last year you were kind enough to match us up against the No. 12 ranked Missouri Tigers who had a first round draft pick and they had 37 or 38 sacks defensively. Now, we face another team with an outstanding quarterback in Oklahoma and Landry Jones. They have been getting after the quarterback very, very successfully. We're awfully excited about that match-up, its going to be a great challenge."

"Obviously there is a little bit of personal tie between us with Bob Stoops and two other coaches on the staff, Jay Norvell and Bruce Kittle being former Iowa Hawkeyes. Those are people we all know, very, very well. They're good friends and I have tremendous respect for them and Bob's record in 13 years at Oklahoma speaks for itself. All-in-all, its going to be a very interesting match-up. We are thrilled to be back here. We are very eager to take on the hospitality that you extend. With that being said, we have a lot of work to do and hopefully we can play a representative game like we did last year."

On defensive coordinator Norm Parker's last game:

"I don't think any of us have dwelled on that too much, but it's going to be a special thing obviously. Norm did not want to make a big deal out of it. The first thing I want to say is how fortunate we have been to have Norm Parker on our staff. I feel extremely lucky. Like I just mentioned, how Bob Stoops has been at Oklahoma for 13 years, Bob and I are the only two left standing from the class of 1999."

"The one thing I feel very, very fortunate is about our leadership coaches, Norm Parker our defensive coordinator, Ken O'Keefe our offensive coordinator and Chris Doyle who runs our strength and conditioning program. These are guys that have been here since day one. I thought we were getting a really outstanding defensive coach when hiring Norm and I thought we were getting a great guy, but it turns out he was much more than that. He's as good of a defensive coach I have ever been around in my career. I can't tell you what he's done from a personal standpoint in terms of really giving our staff some stability. He's a great mentor, a great teacher and a great human being, so we have been very lucky and very fortunate."

"Norm's been through some health problems recently, the last couple years. He's made it through this entire year in tact. He's in great shape. I think he was trying to retire before the game after he watched film of Oklahoma with the amount of yards and points they have been scoring, but we made him stay through this thing. It's going to be a special night in that regard. When I look back at Norm and reflect on his entire career, it's just been stellar from what he's done coaching wise, more so from what he's offered in other areas."

On the depth at running back:

"It's kind of a battle of lack of depth between the two of us. They are in the same situation right now. They're down to two tailbacks. They have a full back/H-back who's a very good player and who can also run the ball. We may have a few more numbers than they do. Our psychological advantage is they're going to have a hard time finding our guys. The guys they're playing against, they're going to have a hard time finding them on the film. We've got guys that are capable. We've been down this path before. Unfortunately, I think back to 2001 when Aaron Greving filled in for Ladell Betts. He ended up rushing for 115 and was the MVP in the Alamo Bowl. Certainly last year Marcus [Coker] stepped in and did a great job. He had a pretty prominent performance."

"If we have to do it by committee, we'll do it by committee. Whatever it takes. Not only are they willing and able, they've been practicing well and playing with the guys that are healthy. It's really no different if a guy was to sprain an ankle or if he had a medical condition that didn't allow him to play, we're not going to go out there and call the game off. We're going to go out and compete. Everyone has to pick up the slack a little bit."

The Hawkeyes left the cold winter of Iowa and landed in Arizona on Thursday as they get ready to play Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl on December 30. After arriving, head coach Kirk Ferentz talked about the matchup, what the depth chart is looking like at running back, and much more. Read what he had to say right here.

On practice routine:

"I think we pretty much locked in for the last seven or eight attempts since the first Orange Bowl. We've decided on what we like to do. We just adjust it given our final schedule and bowl date is. I think we've got a good start to our preparation. This is a new phase. We're in a pretty festive environment right now. It's going to be a real challenge for our players to keep their focus on the game, but we certainly want to relax and enjoy the activities as well."



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