Ferentz: Tate Out, Not Certain On Replacement

Oct. 24, 2006

IOWA CITY – Kirk Ferentz noted Tuesday during his weekly visit with the media that senior quarterback Drew Tate will miss Iowa’s game this Saturday against Northern Illinois as a result of surgery to his injured left hand but that he expects the talented senior to be back on the practice field in about a week.

The Hawkeyes and Huskies tee it up at 11 a.m. inside Kinnick Stadium. ESPNU will provide live national television coverage. Both teams will carry 5-3 overall records into the game, the sixth in the series. Iowa has won all of the previous five games and all five have been played in Kinnick.

“If it weren’t the fear of infection of the incision, Drew would probably be out there tomorrow,” Ferentz said of his fiery field leader.

“We expect him back next week. It’s unfortunate. Just like anyone of our players, they don’t want to miss a game. They work too hard to miss the few opportunities to play. But, it’s happened, we deal with it and we move on.”

Ferentz was direct in his response to the question of who fills the void created by Tate’s absence: Will it be senior Jason Manson or redshirt freshman Jake Christensen.

“That part we don’t know. We’ll mull it over,” Ferentz said. “The competition has been good in practice and practice is important. That’s a pretty important chunk of what you use to evaluate a player.”

Manson guided Iowa to a victory at Syracuse earlier this season when Tate was sidelined with a strained abdominal muscle. Christensen has seen very limited action.

“Jason is a classy young man and we’re confident he’ll perform well if that’s the direction we go. We’ll see how it plays out, but, either way, we have complete confidence in Jason and Jake,” said Iowa’s head coach.

Saturday is a “Blackout” day at historic Kinnick Stadium. Fans are reminded to wear black to show their support of the Iowa Hawkeyes.

“Both can operate the offense. Both can throw. Both can take us where we need to go.”

The announcement on Tate’s unavailability is perhaps the exclamation point to a season that has seen the Hawkeyes suffer arguably more than their fair share of injuries to student-athletes expected to be impact players. However, Ferentz refused to use that fact as a crutch.

“We’ve lost to two of the top teams in the country, played well against Purdue and stunk up the place against Indiana and,” Ferentz said emphatically, “Indiana played very well. I don’t want to not say that. They did. We didn’t.

“Injuries are a factor, but they are a reality,” added Ferentz. “They are like bounces and breaks. When they aren’t going your way, it’s no fun. One way to look at it is that it’s an opportunity for another to jump in and do a good job and we’ve had plenty do that this year.”

Ferentz said the Hawkeyes will have their hands full with the Huskies, a team that has won more than its fair share of road games against teams from the “big” conferences.

“Coach (Joe) Novak and his staff have done it the right way, building from the ground up a very solid, successful program. We respect that and consider this week’s game a ninth Big Ten game,” said Ferentz.

Northern Illinois ranks 11th nationally in rush offense thanks in great measure to the work of running back Garrett Wolfe, who leads the nation in rushing with a 176.8 yards per game average. Ferentz is impressed with Wolfe, but equally impressed with the supporting cast.

“We go from Mike Hart to Garrett Wolfe…different styles, but very challenging,” said Ferentz. “He benefits from a very solid line and great downfield blocking by their wide receivers and tight ends. We’ll need to be ready or we’ll see only the back of his jersey.”