Oct. 17, 2006
IOWA CITY — Kirk Ferentz is impressed, very impressed.
“They are very deserving of their national ranking. These guys are an excellent football team and playing very well,” Iowa’s head coach said of the 2006 Michigan Wolverines, the Hawkeyes’ date this Saturday at 2:30 p.m., Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich. The game will be televised live by ABC to a regional audience.
Offensive line. Defensive line. Linebacker. Quarterback. Defensive backfield. Wide receiver. Tight end. Punter. Kicker. Ferentz can’t find a weak spot in this edition of the Wolverines.
“This is the best Michigan team I’ve seen since coming back and it’s been eight years now. Balanced. Deep. Talented,” Ferentz offered. “They are the real deal. We’ll have our hands full.
“There’s no question that they are playing at a very, very high level right now. They have a lot of older guys playing well and playing with a lot of aggressiveness, particularly on defense,” he added.
Ferentz said Michigan’s success on defense – where they rank among the nation’s best, particularly against the run – starts up front. “They’re veteran at the back end and very, very strong and experienced up front. That’s a pretty salty combination,” he said.
Offensively, Ferentz has great admiration for UM runningback Michael Hart. ” He’s a special player and, now, he’s a healthy special player,” said Ferentz.
Speaking of runningbacks, Ferentz thinks Iowa’s Albert Young will return to the practice field this week and the playing field Saturday. However, he notes that extended absences are never a good thing.
“It’s tough to be off the playing field for an extended period of time and expect the player to not be a little bit rusty, out of sync. I’d not be surprised to see Albert struggle with that as well,” said Ferentz.
Ferentz said his offensive game plan will continue to be balanced. “You have to do what you think you can do the best and go from there. But you need to attempt to show balance,” said Ferentz.
Ferentz said the Hawkeyes are banged up pretty good, but refused to dwell on it. “That’s part of the game. Some years you do, some years you don’t,” he said.
“Over the long haul, I’m certain it all evens out. We’ve had years where we haven’t been bitten too hard by the injury bug. This year, it’s not the case. But, again, you can’t dwell on it. It’s part of the game and others, I’m sure, are banged up, too.”
Ferentz said the Hawkeyes have lacked consistency from the start of the season. Some of it is a result of new faces, some of it inexperience, some of it execution. The inconsistency was evident last Saturday at Indiana.
“We got what we deserved. Certainly, we’re disappointed. But they played well and we didn’t. You have to move on,” he said.
“I’ve told our guys that when you win, the praise is more than deserved, and when you lose, you open yourself to criticism some of which might not be warranted. As a player and coach, you have to focus on reality…what needs to be improved on, what you’re doing well,” said Ferentz.
“If you’re going to get better and improve, that’s where you have to focus. But, honestly, that’s much easier said than done. It requires focus and discipline.”
Ferentz said there’s no pixy dust solution to the Hawkeyes’ struggles. “We all have to get better and that starts with me. We didn’t perform well in any area….I guess we deep-snapped OK. That might have been the highlight,” he said.