Ferentz: Change is a Constant

March 22, 2006

Kirk Ferentz briefed the media Wednesday to officially kick off the spring practice schedule for the nationally ranked University of Iowa football team. The Hawkeyes’ head coach said he is entering his eighth year anxious…in a positive way.

“We’re excited about how the ’06 team came through the winter workouts. It was a very good start. So, the staff is anxious to get out there and see what type of football players we have,” said Ferentz.

Change is the one constant in college athletics. Graduation requires that new faces are always dotting the practice field. For Ferentz, that reality is one of the positives of coaching at this level of the game of football..

“It’s not a static environment. Change is the sure thing,” Ferentz said. “It’s exciting though because the potential for growth and improvement from each and every player on the team is out there every year. And, every year, it seems someone unexpected emerges.”

Ferentz said the a year ago the focus was on Iowa’s defensive line and running backs. Inexperience and depth were the questions. Today, those areas are a strength.

“We’re pretty much intact there,” said Ferentz.

That’s not the case, however, at receiver, cornerback, linebacker and, to a lesser extent, offensive line.

“We’ve lost an awful lot of experience and intanibles in those areas. In some cases, we’ve lost three or four-year starters,” said Ferentz.

“You can’t begin to quantify the value of an Ed Hinkel or a Jovon Johnson to a football player. They were special both on the field and off.”

Ferentz said the linebacker position is a “bad news, good news” situation. The bad is the graduation of two of the best linebackers in UI football history in Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge.

“The good news is that we think we have some pretty good players behind them,” said Ferentz, who added that it’s more a matter of which players in which positions at linebacker.

Iowa’s receiving corps received a boost when James Cleveland, a freshman from Baytown, Texas joined the program at semester break.

“That’s a new one for us and it’s gone pretty well. We’re looking forward to seeing James perform this spring,” said Ferentz.

Ferentz also used the opportunity to look back at the 2005 season and, specifically, the members of that squad who are preparing for the “next level,” participation in the National Football League.

“It’s an interesting and anxious time for them. They’re working hard and have been tested hard,” said Ferentz, who said he joked with former UI all-American tight end Dallas Clark during the UI’s “Pro Day” about this period in a football player’s career.

“We laughed about the fact that the last 40-yard dash you run as a football player is at `Pro Day’ or the (NFL) Combine,” said Ferentz.

Iowa will not stage a public scrimmage or practice due to the on-going renovation work at historic Kinnick Stadium. Ferentz said he hopes that circumstances will allow for some activity being available to fans of the UI football program in August.

Click HERE to review the UI’s spring football prospectus.