Ferentz Meets the Media: Another View

Aug. 7, 2006

It’s a pretty fair bet that the look on Kirk Ferentz’s face and the tone of his voice wouldn’t differ signifcantly if the head coach of the nationally ranked University of Iowa football team was predicting a national championship for his squad or touting the prospects of a .500 season.

No highs. No lows. Straight down the middle. With a wry chuckle tossed in here and there for good measures.

That’s Ferentz. And he doesn’t try to hide it and doesn’t try to change it.

So, predictably, the audience assembled for his opening remarks at the top of of Iowa Football Media Day heard a lot of “we’re excited” and “the coaches are thrilled” and “we’re looking forward to” about the upcoming year.

Questions from all kinds of media were thrown at Ferentz on Monday during the hour-long session. He talked about everything from the receivers to the schedule to the Heisman Trophy. By the time he was done, he had discussed seemingly every position on the field and more than half of the roster.

Though pure excitement is hard to come by in a Ferentz press conference, his enthusiasm was most obvious when he discussed his returning players and what he thought they would contribute again this year.

“We really feel like that’s a strength of our football team right now,” Ferentz said of tight ends Scott Chandler, Tony Moeaki and Ryan Majerus, and added of Chandler, “We’re thrilled to death to have him back.”

On returning running back Albert Young: “Albert probably had the quietest amount of yardage maybe in the country last year and didn’t receive a lot of Big Ten notice. He’s got all the best in front of him. I think we’ll see a little bit more speed of him this year. He’s a tremendous leader and great competitor.”

“We’ve got a very willing group of players on our football team. Our approach hasn’t changed. The things we were doing in 1999 and 2000, we were doing in 2002 and 2004. We’ll continue to do that this year.”
Kirk Ferentz on the 2006 Iowa Hawkeyes

On quarterback Drew Tate: “He probably put a little bit too much pressure on himself. Based on what I saw this spring and just watching Drew, being around Drew, he’s ready to relax and really have fun with the game.”

On the specialists — kicker Kyle Schlicher, punter Andy Fenstermaker and long snapper Daniel Olszta: “We feel real good right now about our special teams. We feel great about the fact that we have all three of our specialists back.”

In addition, he spent a great deal of time mentioning some less-experienced players who are close to stepping into prominent roles, especially at linebacker and wide receiver.

Mike Humpal received a lot of attention for the outside linebacker position he will fill this fall.

“He just had a tremendous preseason going into spring ball, really performed very very well in the spring and into the summer,” Ferentz said of Humpal. “He’s got a great, great future.”

Ferentz also mentioned offensive lineman Dace Richardson, who could start at left tackle for the Hawkeyes. The sophomore – who was in the same class at the same high school as Moeaki — was slated to redshirt last season, but instead saw action in ten of Iowa’s games.

“We just like the way he practiced,” Ferentz said. “It’s really unusual to take the redshirt off a freshman offensive lineman. He probably just needs more game time experience.”

After dealing with a multitude of questions about facing expectations at last year’s Media Day, Ferentz again had to answer to reporters who wondered how the Hawkeyes would fare this year with another round of predictions.

“As far as the schedule goes, I don’t waste a lot of time looking at schedules or trying to calculate on those,” Ferentz said. He explained how a game against Indiana a few years ago appeared to fans to be an easy win on the schedule, but ended up being a tooth-and-nails game. “To me, you better worry about who’s in front of you.”

It’s been a long time since Ferentz’s first few years at Iowa, and reporters were curious how he views those early years when he wasn’t having the success that the program enjoys now.

“I never had any doubts that things would work out,” Ferentz said. “I actually felt great about things after that first year. The things that enabled us maybe to climb up a little bit from the position we were in, those are still the critical points.”

Finally, Ferentz summed up his outlook by saying the Hawkeyes would stick to the tried-and-true formula that has brought the team four consecutive January bowl appearances.

“We’ve got a very willing group of players on our football team. Our approach hasn’t changed. The things we were doing in 1999 and 2000, we were doing in 2002 and 2004. We’ll continue to do that this year.”