Ferentz: IU Skill Players Explosive

Oct. 10, 2006

IOWA CITY — Kirk Ferentz expects to see a blitzing defense and another explosive collection of skill players Saturday when he brings the nationally ranked Iowa Hawkeyes into its 11 a.m. (Iowa time) game against Indiana in Bloomington, Ind. The game will be televised live by ESPN2.

Ferentz told the media assembled at his weekly press gathering Tuesday that the Hoosiers have “bounced around” on defensive schemes thus far in 2006, but he thinks the home team will likely settle into the defense that helped Indiana secure a road win at Illinois last Saturday.

“It’s a tough preparation for us. We’ll plan for the four-down front and a fair amount of blitzes, dogs. They had a fair amount of success with that approach last week and will likely continue with it this week,” said Ferentz.

Ferentz is impressed with the skill players Indiana will put on the field, noting in particular IU running back Marcus Thigpen, the Big Ten’s Special Teams Player of the Week. Thigpen collected a school record 198 kickoff return yards against the Illini. He also tied a Big Ten record with his third return for touchdown.

“He’s scary. He’s averaging, what, 43, 44 yards a touch?” Ferentz asked rhetorically. “Pair his performance on kickoff returns to date with our lack of consistency and we have reason to be concerned.

“It’s an execution thing,” Ferentz added with respect to Iowa’s struggles on kick coverage. “Sometimes we’re really good, sometimes we’re really bad. As with a lot of phases of our game, we need to become more consistent or we’ll struggle.”

Ferentz was very pleased with his team’s ability to start fast last Saturday against Purdue. “We moved it pretty good early. Hopefully, that’s a pretty good sign for the future.

“I always like to score first, given the choice,” Ferentz added with a chuckle. “Hopefully, we can use the momentum we gained last week and keep it moving forward.”

Ferentz said the Hawkeyes “did everything” better last Saturday at Kinnick. The numbers – yards gained, points scored, ect., — don’t lie.

“We had a good week or practice, responded well to what was happening, the coaches did a nice job of adjusting mid-game. Everything just seemed to be in sync. Sometimes that just happens,” he added.

Ferentz said it’s too early to talk about the league race – “We’re just three games into the league season. Let’s talk in Week 7 or so..” – but he did admit that the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes appear to a cut above.

“I’ll confirm that (Ohio State is pretty good). The Buckeyes are pretty good, very good,” Ferentz smiled.