Camp Central: Ferentz Likes Anchors in Lines

Aug. 4, 2008

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IOWA CITY, Iowa – The more things change, the more things stay the same for head coaches of college football teams. Take, for example, the 2008 University of Iowa squad, the 10th that will be under the direction of Kirk Ferentz.

There is a fair amount of uncertainty at key positions for the Hawkeyes…at corner, at running back, at linebacker, even at quarterback. Ferentz, however, speaks a little more confidently when he talks about his defensive and offensive line — two pieces of the foundation of every successful college football team.

On defense, he points to four-year starters Matt Kroul and Mitch King as his anchors, a pair of guys he is more than comfortable in hanging his hat on.

“We haven’t had too many four-year starters here. Enough said,” Iowa’s veteran head coach said to the media gathered at Iowa’s annual “Media Day.”

“I can’t say enough about how they’ve trained and the ownership they’ve taken in the program,” Ferentz offered later during the question-and-answer session of the meeting.

“These guys both practice so hard. They both get it, they really get it, and my guess is that that attitude, that commitment, will continue to show up on the field.”

Kroul and King are two of three seniors listed among a group of eight guys on the two-deep at the end and tackle positions. This group affirms Ferentz’s point that the 2008 Hawkeyes are both young and experienced.

Junior Chad Geary has lettered twice. Ends Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard both lettered and were impact players as red-shirt freshmen. Anton Narinskiy is a senior and Karl Klug is a sophomore.

On the offensive side of the ball, Ferentz likes what seniors Seth Olsen and Rob Bruggeman bring to the playing field. They are joined on the depth chart by 10 more Hawkeyes, a group that includes four juniors and three sophomores, including Bryan Bulaga and Julian Vandervelde, a pair of “big uglies” that saw action last season as red-shirt freshmen.

“We certainly have more depth and experience at those positions than we’ve had in a long time,” said Ferentz. “I don’t think there’s a (Robert) Gallery in the mix, a real elite guy, but, I think, we have a pretty solid, more than capable, group.”

Whether it’s in the lines or at the quarterback position — where, Ferentz said, it’s Jake (Christensen’s) job to earn — Ferentz is looking for improvement and consistency.

“We need to make improvement across the board and we need to demonstrate consistency. That’s often a problem for teams that are young,” said Ferentz.

Iowa’s head coach pointed at his punter, Ryan Donohue, as an example of the latter.

“He’s pretty symbolic of our team…a young guy who did a lot of good things last year, particularly at the end of the season, but was, generally, inconsistent. Now he needs to do what a lot of our guys need to do: Continue to improve and become more consistent with their performance.”

The more things change, the more things stay the same…so Ferentz, like all coaches four weeks before the start of their season, is excited to get started.

“We’re anxious to get started, to see what we’ve got. I think we’ll have lots of healthy competition…which is good,” Ferentz said.