Purdue Defense A Worry, Says Ferentz

Nov. 4, 2003

Listen to Kirk

After a career day in last week’s 41-10 victory over Illinois, Iowa quarterback Nathan Chandler was named a team captain for the first time this season by coach Kirk Ferentz in his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

Chandler went 14-of-23 for 243 yards and a touchdown en route to the Hawkeyes crushing defeat of the Illini, showing progress and versatility that included a 10-yard run for a first down.

And that fits Ferentz just fine as No. 10 Iowa takes on 16th-ranked Purdue at 2:30pm (CST) inside Ross-Ade Stadium at West Lafayette, IN., on Saturday.

“It’s very encouraging in all aspects,” said Ferentz. “At least we’re moving in the right direction offensively.”

And as the Hawkeyes look forward to the toughest stretch of their season in November, an improving offense is infinitely better than one in decline.

Iowa looks at the fourth best scoring defense, the third best rushing defense and the fourth best defensive team overall in the Big Ten Conference with the Boilermakers.

“Purdue has certainly played as good a defense as anybody,” Ferentz said. “Going in there when we were getting worse rather than getting better is a scary thought. Hopefully, we can go in there and do a good job trying to execute.”

“It’s very encouraging in all aspects. At least we’re moving in the right direction offensively.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz

With the Hawkeyes getting back into a groove unseen since September as far as injuries are concerned (starters Grant Steen and Jared Clauss are strong maybes again this week), Iowa looks at a promising race for Big Ten and BCS laurels.

And that fact is not lost on the coach.

“We’ve grown a lot in the last few weeks, and we can go over there and have a chance to compete. That’s all we can ask for,” said Ferentz. “We’re in November. We’re playing for something meaningful now. And that’s how football should be. It’s far more enjoyable.”

However, Purdue’s defensive squad, which ranks 10th nationally, is a matter of concern for Ferentz.

“Usually, teams that win consistently have great defense and Purdue’s no exception,” said the coach. “They’ve got great experience. They have guys who are very aggressive and their schemes are impressive. They throw a lot of real challenging things at you. They have the right people at the right spots and know how to utilize the people they have.”

“They throw a lot of real challenging things at you. They have the right people at the right spots and know how to utilize the people they have.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz on Purdue’s Defense

Despite the progress on the offense, and the usually strong, eighth-ranked Iowa defense, the team must curtail turnovers (they’ve had six interceptions for 130 yards and 10 fumbles) and penalties (they’ve had 61 for 524, including 10 for 88 yards last week) before hitting the road again, where those two maladies have been critical to the outcome of Hawkeye away games.

“We were doing a great job there for a while,” said Ferentz regarding turnovers. “That’s one thing we did better last week. We protected the ball better than how we did against Penn State. If you look at our two losses, special teams and turnovers are just critical areas. We knew that in August. We worked on that in August. You still have to do it though.”

According to the coach, the team is working on “foolish” penalties as well.

“To me, that’s just attention to detail. They’re going to cost you,” he said. “They’re not quite like turnovers, they’re not that severe, but we’ve had a knack at getting them at bad times. We’ve had a 20 or 30 yard gain and then it’s called back. So I’d say that the timing of our penalties has been more hurtful than maybe the nature or amount of them.”

Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com