Ferentz: Tate A Likely Starter

Oct. 31, 2006

IOWA CITY – Kirk Ferentz doesn’t pull any punches and he didn’t Tuesday when he met the media to discuss the University of Iowa football team’s game Saturday against Northwestern in Kinnick Stadium. The focus remains more so on his team than the opponent.

Iowa will look to even its record Big Ten Conference play to 3-3 and improve its overall mark to 7-3 when it squares off against the Wildcats at 11 a.m. (Iowa time) Saturday. Northwestern is 2-7 overall and winless in five league games. The game will be televised live by ESPN Plus.

Iowa has won 11 of its last 13 games in November. “You don’t get better just because a page on the calendar has turned,” said UI Coach Kirk Ferentz.

“We need to get better. We need to try improve in the areas that we need to improve,” said Ferentz. “I’m hoping we see improvement in each and every week. We have plenty of room for it.”

Ferentz said the fact that Iowa lost last year in Evanston in the final minutes will be motivation for those who participated, but it’s secondary to the task at hand.

“We need to grow at a team. We’re not playing the kind of football that we would hoped we would be at this time in the season,” said Ferentz.

Ferentz said improvement is a result of concentration and execution, and the 2006 Hawkeyes have lacked consistency on both counts. “It’s really that simple,” said Iowa’s head coach.

The Hawkeyes under Ferentz have been tough – 11-2 tough during the last four season when Iowa advanced to January bowl games – in November when, as he’s said before, “championships are won.” But Ferentz noted that it just doesn’t happen because you’ve turned the page on the calendar.

“What’s happened in the past, happened in the past. To me, we’re not playing where we want to be at this stage. We need to kick it up another gear,” said Ferentz.

“Everybody on the team has to improve all the way down to the scout team. In most instances, we’ve played better the last few weeks. But, again, we still have lots of room for improvement…special teams, penalties and, particularly, the costly penalties,” he said.

Ferentz said senior quarterback Drew Tate will be back under center Saturday. The Hawkeyes’ fiery signal-caller has been fit with two splits – one that’s an “every day” model that is more protective and another that will be worn on game day.

“He can drink coffee with the game day model…if, during the game, he wants to grab a cup,” Ferentz said with a chuckle.

Iowa’s head coach said he expects Tate to play on Saturday. “If he practices well and we don’t have any significant concerns about ball security, Drew will be in the game.

“He’s a big part of our football team. If can’t go, then you go with the next guy who is the best option,” said Ferentz.