Ferentz: Business as Usual

Aug. 7, 2006

It was business as usual for University of Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz Monday afternoon when he kicked off “Media Day” activities on the UI campus with a one-hour visit with local, regional and national media.

Like this spring and summer and last week in Chicago at the Big Ten Conference’s media event, linebacker, wide receiver and defensive back are the points of interest for the coaching staff heading into August workouts.

“There are no mysteries there. We didn’t lose great numbers in those areas, but we lost quality and we lost leadership,” Ferentz said, noting the losses of the likes of NFL linebackers Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge, wide receivers Clinton Solomon and Ed Hinkel and defensive back Jovon Johnson.

“The good news is that we have capable young players and some quality depth.”

One of those at the linebacker position is Mike Humpal. Ferentz is very keen on what the junior from New Hampton brings to the table.

“Mike had a superb winter and spring. We think he can have a great season after having a one-step-forward, two-steps back year last year because of injuries. Knock on wood, we could have another Albert Young story in Mike.”

“It helps tremendously to have that type of experience and quality at that position. Albert’s performance in the Big Ten last year was quite remarkable in that he led the league in rushing in league games but did so without much fanfare or acknowledgement. Pretty quite…pretty interesting if you think about it.”
Ferentz on running back Albert Young’s 2005 season

Ferentz said senior reserve defensive back Ma’Quan Dawkins has elected to take a medical redshirt year after having knee surgery in July. That loss puts a little pressure on the development of depth at that position.

Bradley Fletcher will fill in where Ma’Quan was in position No. 3 behind Marcus Paschal and Adam Shada. We’d like to come up with five guys,” explained Ferentz.

The development of the receiving corps will be aided by the depth at running back and the presence of Albert Young, the leading rusher in Big Ten games a year ago.

“It helps tremendously to have that type of experience and quality at that position. Albert’s performance in the Big Ten last year was quite remarkable in that he led the league in rushing in league games but did so without much fanfare or acknowledgement. Pretty quite…pretty interesting if you think about it.” said Iowa’s veteran head coach.

Ferentz also pointed to the tight end position for answers to the questions about who will be catching passes from senior quarterback Drew Tate. Senior Scott Chandler, senior Ryan Majerus and sophomore Tony Moeaki all return and all demonstrated the ability to catch the ball.

Lastly, Ferentz is comforted in the fact that his punter — senior Andy Fenstermaker — his placekicker — senior Kyle Schlicher — and his long snapper — junior Daniel Olszta — also are back included in a roster that totals 109 student-athletes, a mark that includes 21 seniors and 43 letterwinners.

Ferentz said the coaching staff has spent some time on getting off to a faster start in September.

“We’re going to tweak some things…nothing too radical,” he smiled. “We’ll probably add a few more competitive periods and generally up the tempo. Again, though, nothing radical.

“Of course, we’d like to enter late September/October with a little more momentum. We’ll see what happens.”

Ferentz said August is an important time of year for every football team at every level including his.

“This is a time when teams come together and you get a sense of what the season might look like,” said Ferentz.

“As coaches, we know it’s a long season. We also know it requires dedication and a lot of hard work to put yourself in position to play meaningful games in November. We’ve been in that position in the recent years…but that’s history. We start fresh, new every season. You don’t get to rest on your laurels or what you accomplished a year ago.”

Iowa will open its 2006 season Sept. 2 when Montana visits historic Kinnick Stadium. Kickoff is set for shortly after 11 a.m. The game will be televised live to a national audience by ESPNU.

The game is also the first of seven home games the Hawkeyes will play in 2006. The non-conference schedule includes games against Iowa State and Northern Illinois. Iowa will entertain Ohio State, Purdue, Northwestern and Wisconsin during the Big Ten season.

The Iowa-Montana will also be the first inside Kinnick after completion of the two-year, $89 million home of the Hawkeyes. Built in 1929, the facility has undergone significant facelift since the end of the 2004 season. To learn more about the renovation, visit kinnickrenovation.com, the official world wide web site of the renovation of historic Kinnick Stadium.

Kinnick Stadium will be officially rededicated at a open-to-the-public ceremony scheduled for 4 p.m, Friday, Sept. 1, on the Krause Family Plaza located at the south end of the stadium. The rededication will conclude with the unveiling of a 14-foot-tall statue of the stadium’s namesake, Nile Kinnick Jr., Iowa’s 1939 Heisman Trophy award winner.

Drew Tate
“There are expectations always to do good. I wouldn’t say there’s more on the plate than there ever has been. Iowa football has always been set at a high standard for the state and recently in the Big Ten with the success.”

(On his own expectations)
“Now that I’m a senior, I’m going to strive to be a better leader and help our receivers out as best I can.”

Scott Chandler
“We have some guys out there in the wide receiver position that are able to make plays and I think that when the opportunity presents itself they’ll do that.”

“You can’t just focus in on one guy. I think with Albert in the backfield and Drew (Tate) back there we’re going to have good balance on offense. Then you throw Tony (Moeaki) into the equation too, Tony (Moeaki) is capable of making plays and I think you’ll see that even more this year.”

(On teammate Tony Moeaki)
“I think we compliment each other well, we both do things well. He’s a guy that has come in, worked hard and he keeps getting better every time. I think we’re a good one-two punch.”

Marcus Paschal
“The legs are starting to get a little weak already, but you just have to push through it. That’s the advantage of camp. You’re going to be out here each and every day working real hard, getting with your teammates and work hard together, it’s going to determine what kind of team you have come September.”

(On the difference from last season)
“Besides being healthy this year, last year I was nursing an injury coming into the season. But other than that it’s just the same, we’re just ready to work hard and be ready for our first game.”

Kyle Schlicher
(On the start of season) “Right now we’re just focused on getting to the first game that’s on the schedule. As far as September goes, I can’t really say that we have expectations. Obviously we play to win and the way we prepare is for that common goal. It’s always tough starting out but as far as goals and what we expect, we don’t have any expectations other than playing our best.”

Mitch King
(on the defensive line)
“We’re getting a little more hype than last year but we’re trying to ignore that because we’re still young guys and we’re trying to build on what we finished with last year.”

(On gaining confidence as a line)
“We have to build off the two seniors (Abdul and Chad) from last year, they helped us immensely. We just have to follow in their footsteps. We have a lot of younger guys, and at every position there is a lot of depth and experience, which should help us.”

Albert Young
(On the off season)
“We put in hard work in the off season and during the spring so the guys are ready to get going.”

(On preseason rankings)
“We don’t get into the preseason rankings. Guys are ranked anywhere from the top five to the top 25. Its fun to read when you are bored, but we don’t pay much attention to that.”

(On Iowa getting respect)
“When you go to so many January bowl games like we do teams definitely pay attention to us and bring their A-game, so we know every game will be a challenge.”