'Working on Solutions'

Sept. 22, 2004

Head Coach Kirk Ferentz didn’t tuck his players into bed on Sunday morning when the team’s flight arrived back to Iowa City, but he gave them a parting admonition nonetheless: “When you wake up Monday, it’s time to get back to work. We have a 24-hour rule, win or lose.”

After a 44-7 loss to Arizona State in Tempe late Saturday, there was no question the 24-hour rule was going to be in effect. There’s also no question about the emotions the players and coaches felt on the ride back home.

“It was pretty quiet,” Ferentz said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “The locker room was quiet, the plane ride was quiet and that’s what you’d expect. I hope everybody feels frustrated. When you get spanked like that, and you don’t feel bad about it, it’s probably time to get out.

“What we have to do is put the energies that are there and put them toward a productive resolution. We know what our problems are, and we have to work on solutions now,” the coach added.

Ferentz said that the team has work “in all three phases” and that the game tape, “was as bad as it was in person or on television.”

“That one’s been looked at, digested, reviewed, corrected and now we have to move on,” he said. “Tuesday’s a new day for us. We begin our preparation today, and that’s where we’re at right now.”

The improvements will have to come about quickly. The 24th-ranked (ESPN/USA Today) Hawkeyes will take on Michigan (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today; No. 18 AP) on Saturday in front of more than 110,000 Wolverine fans in Ann Arbor at the start of the Big Ten Conference season.

The upside from coming off a devastating non-conference road loss and then facing the team that was picked to finish second in the league on their home turf is that motivation is a little easier to come by.

“We have no choices in the matter,” Ferentz said. “Certainly, we didn’t want the results we received on Saturday. We got them and now we get Michigan regardless. That’s how you have to look at it. We’re starting at the top. They’re always the league favorites and with good reason.

“There’s no question about whether we need to get better. That was pretty evident on Saturday. This reinforces that,” he added.

Iowa’s defeated Michigan the last two years, including an overwhelming win in the Big House (34-9) in 2002. And if the Hawkeyes pull out a victory there on Saturday, they will be the first Iowa team to win three-straight against the Wolverines and the first to win two-straight in Michigan Stadium. Michigan holds a 37-10-4 advantage in the series.

But Michigan is motivated too. Much like last week when ASU avenged a 21-2 loss from last season, the Wolverines are set to get Iowa in just a little more than three days.

“Whatever you draw motivation from, that’s their business and not ours,” Ferentz said. “I’d rather have it that way instead of them up there saying, `Oh yeah, we kicked these guys’ tails for two years and let’s make it three in-a-row.’ It won’t affect the game though.”

Running back Marcus Schnoor and offensive lineman David Walker underwent surgery on Monday to repair an anterior cruciate ligament and dislocated triceps respectively. Walker, who played 17 plays Saturday in his first game back since last year, has suffered his second season-ending injury in as many years. He had recovered from a torn Achilles tendon.

“We’ve had four guys now who have had double injuries,” Ferentz said. “They’re really tough for the individual. He should be back to full speed by the spring, I think. It’s one of those unfortunate situations.”

Ferentz said that he will investigate medical redshirts for the players he’s already lost this season: Schnoor, Walker and running back Albert Young, who is also out with an ACL injury.

“I think all three of the guys we’ve lost, if you look at the circumstances, you really think there would be compelling arguments for all three of them,” the coach said. “I think with David–and I haven’t asked him about it–but I’m sure he would be interested and Marcus the same way.”

On the brighter side of the street, Ferentz reported Tuesday that backup quarterback Jason Manson had been cleared for drills in practices and may be able to join the team again as early as Saturday.

Another long-injured player on the mend, Brian Ferentz, may be back to some action against Michigan as well. Ferentz has started practicing, but will likely not see action until Iowa takes on Michigan State on Oct. 2.

“We’ll see,” said the center’s father. “He worked out last week and looked fairly decent. He’s probably in the same category as Jason. We’ll see how the week goes, and at least we’re getting him in the middle of things. That’s been real positive for him.”

“That one’s been looked at, digested, reviewed, corrected and now we have to move on. Tuesday’s a new day for us. We begin our preparation today, and that’s where we’re at right now.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz

Defensive coordinator Norm Parker is likely to travel with the team to Ann Arbor Friday night. Ferentz said one of Parker’s goals was to go to the Big Ten opener, but the coach realized that there are still a few hurdles for the recovering coordinator.

“He’s been on the shelf here for a while, so his energy and stamina aren’t real good,” Ferentz said. “We have to be careful about how much time he spends in the building.”

Ferentz said that Parker, who has been recovering from an amputated toe and vascular surgery as a result of diabetes, had stayed up late to watch the ASU game.

“We’re not helping the healing process by any means,” Ferentz said of the 44-7 loss, “not with that performance.”

Coach Ferentz kept his captains on offense the same for the past three weeks with wide receiver Ed Hinkel and offensive lineman Pete McMahon. On defense, seniors Sean Considine and Jonathan Babineaux will return to the front of the swarm for the first time since the Throwback Game.

Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com