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October 8, 2013

Ferentz talks bye week

With several players that left the game on Saturday due to injury, it appears that the bye week came at a good time for the Hawkeyes. Today, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz met with the media where he updated things on the injury front, discussed the first half of the season, talked about the plans for the upcoming bye week, and much more.

Watch our videos and read the complete transcript below.


I'll say a couple of words then pass it on to Greg and Phil.

Obviously the bye week. It was a tough loss last week. So we have the bye week coming up right now, and basically try to get the guys rested a little bit and let them recharge. Give us a chance to pay more attention to the younger players who haven't played a lot. And then the guys that have played try to detail them a little bit more.

Obviously this week gives everybody a chance to get caught up academically, hopefully get ahead a little bit. And with a little bit of luck maybe some of them can get a home cooked meal over the weekend, since they don't get that opportunity on Thanksgiving any more.

We'll start practicing this afternoon. Just try to see what we can do to improve the team on the field during the bye week, certainly, doing some work on the next four games. We've got a four game block coming up. And obviously recruiting, too. So that's kind of what's on our docket right now.

I'll take a couple of questions and turn it back over to Greg.

Q. With the mild injuries will you hold them out of practice this week? (Jared Aaron, KGAN)

COACH FERENTZ: We'll be cautious. We've been really fortunate this year thus far, at least. And watched a handful of guys Saturday. But I guess we'll continue along that line, so the fact that all the guys have a chance to be pretty good by the end of the week. If with were playing Saturday, we'd probably be in trouble. But hopefully by the end of the week, early next week we should be good.

Q. You lost Weisman Saturday. Why no LeShun Daniels? (Marc Morehouse, Cedar Rapids Gazette)

COACH FERENTZ: It's just tough to get the guys in the game, and we didn't have a lot of possessions, a lot of snaps the way the game was going. Probably not the best time in the world. Damon stepped in and did a great job. He's been playing well.

Q. Is that because the game went towards passing, was protection a concern? (Marc Morehouse, Cedar Rapids Gazette)

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, that doesn't worry so much with him, at least. I think that's one thing he does a pretty good job of. That wasn't a big issue, no.

Q. Will all of your staff be out recruiting this weekend? (Tom Kakert, hawkeyereport. com)

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, we're going to use Friday - probably be a little bit have more guys traveling for more time the next bye week. We just figure we have a four game block, three of the four teams are totally new preparations for us, new staffs, since we've been here and they've been there. So good chance for us to do some research this week, and try to get some things in line, and then focus on recruiting a little bit more next bye week.

Q. What do you feel about where the team is at? (Steve Batterson, Quad-City Times)

A. I like this team. We were all disappointed with Saturday, that wasn't much fun. It would be great to go into the bye week with five wins, but we came up short. Played a really good football team. So that's disappointing.

The big thing is this team's really worked hard. We have great leadership since last November. They've been a lot of fun to work with and coach. They're working hard, trying hard, put in a lot of effort on Saturday. We'll lick our wounds a little bit and see what we can do to improve, and try to play our best football here the next four games our focus will be.

Q. You mentioned the preparations you have this week, do you hope to have a game plan for next week installed a little bit earlier? (Brenden Stiles, hawkeyedrive.com)

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, that's one thing about the bye week, we'll have it done sooner than we would normally, but as far as presenting it to the players, probably more so on Sunday. We don't want to do too much too soon. But as a coaching staff we have the chance to get a lot of work done this week, and take advantage of that time.

Q. Will you spend extra time on punting coverage this week? (Tom Kakert, hawkeyereport.com)

COACH FERENTZ: We'll cover all the special teams, not more in the past. But we'll keep working special teams.

Q. Your improvement always continues. Do you feel this team has a pretty good edge on its identity? (Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register)

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, we certainly know more about our team now than with did six weeks ago, starting with the quarterback. Greg can talk a little bit more about that. We had no idea going into it. You think you do, sort of, but until the guys started playing you don't know. I think we have a better grip on things. And we're better offensively just anytime, most teams are if you're balanced, there might be exceptions to that rule, but most teams play better if they can do both.

But that game - you get into games where you don't do both, and that's the reality of it or situation in a game where you've got a short amount of time and a lot of yards to cover, but that's football. I think we're improving in all the areas.

Again, we had a tough defense on Saturday. If you look at their games against Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin, three pretty good teams, a year ago they averaged 14 points a game in regulation, 15 if you count over time. Hopefully we'll score more than 14. But that's the reality of it. That's one game, so we have to keep working. We've been making improvement and the body of work I feel good about.

Defensively, yeah, eliminate big plays is certainly - if you're going to play good defense you have to eliminate the big play and we've got to do a better job of that in the next six weeks.

Q. Now that you've seen the video, what was the difference coming out offensively after the first half? (John Patchett, hawkeyemic.com)

COACH FERENTZ: Basically we went 4, 5 or 6 possessions without doing anything. And then we had two possessions where we took it and scored. We actually led the game and had momentum at halftime. I tried to explain to the team that sometimes when you play good teams, there's no way to predict what's going to happen or how it's going to happen. So you have to keep playing. Our game with them last year was a little bit like that, too. We weren't exactly lighting it up, and we got it to where it counted and pushed it into overtime. You play a good defensive team like that you have to keep chipping away, if you can get some rhythm going it's a good thing. And we did on those two possessions. It's hard to do, they're a tough defensive football team.

They didn't change dramatically. They played well. They played well on those possessions we scored, too. It's tough to score on those guys.

Q. On special teams, you have situations where you put younger guys out there, and it's their one opportunity to be on the field. Do you caution against over thinking? (Brendan Stiles, hawkeyedrive.com)

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, there's really not - typically as much to think about on special teams. That's usually the reason younger guys can play on them and excel. Go back, guys like Clark Sanders, that were playing a lot in special teams before they could play well offensively or defensively. But it's not just helter skelter, either, run around like some kind of crazy person. You have to you have to fit what's within the scheme. There's still that opportunity that we need more guys to step up and do a good job. But we're going the right direction. We went backwards, too, on that phase. But I'm judging six weeks, and I think there's room for improvement there. I think we have reason to be optimistic.

Q. You obviously have backups, but how much did you miss Kevonte? (Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register)

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, it doesn't help. Anytime you lose one of your more experienced guys, and we've always been that way. Even you think about 2002. You take Dallas Clark, I'm not comparing those two guys, but you take an experienced good player out of your lineup and it affects you. We typically don't have another guy just like that, although VandeBerg jumped in and did a good job and showed some signs. Anytime you lose your most veteran guy, and the guys that were injured Saturday, most of them were veteran players that have played pretty well here, but that wasn't deciding the game.

Q. Do you think Kevonte will be able to fill all those roles or will he have some limitations? (Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register)

COACH FERENTZ: We'll see more next week. I'm optimistic.

Q. How strongly do you believe this current team is better able to handle the issues that plagued the team last year? (Pat Harty, Iowa City Press Citizen)

COACH FERENTZ: I think we're a better team right now. But time will tell. Everybody wants to predict the future. I know that's part of the fans, the media, everybody. But there is no way to predict the future. I'm just saying, I think all of us feel this is a better football team. We're a more capable team right now. But every year is a new adventure, every game is a new adventure, what have you. But we like the football team. We're on the right path right now.

Q. Did Saturday's fake punt cause a deeper look? (Marc Morehouse, Cedar Rapids Gazette)

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, I think I indicated that after the game. If you pressed me today I'd say we may never return a punt again, just because when you do that, the blockers you have need to turn and go with those guys to shadow them. When you do that you open the door. And Michigan State did a pretty good job of taking advantage of it, to their credit. What helped us a couple of weeks ago, we paid for on Saturday, and it cost us a field goal and a possession. So, yeah, I may be leaning towards where you never see us try to return one again. We may just try to catch it and keep it off the ground.



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