March 25, 2009
- New and renewal customers: Purchase season tickets online!
- Outback Bowl Central
- Iowa and the Big Ten Network
- Iowa Football wallpaper
Ferentz media conference (March 25)
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Kirk Ferentz said he and his coaching staff will use the next 5 ½ months to pull the University of Iowa football team together. The next 15 spring practices will be an important phase of that answer-finding process.
Ferentz met with media Wednesday in the Hayden Fry Football Complex player’s auditorium, hours before the Hawkeyes kicked off spring practice.
“We’re excited about getting going here. It’s going to be good to be back on the field with the football team,” Ferentz said. “We’ve got some strengths and some positives on this football team, then certainly we have a lot of questions right now like most teams do in the spring.”
The Hawkeyes should have an extra hop in their step after posting a 9-4 record in 2008, highlighted by a 31-10 victory over South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. Team leaders in passing (Ricky Stanzi), total offense (Stanzi), receiving (Derrell Johnson-Koulianos), kick returns (Jewel Hampton), interceptions (Pat Angerer, Tyler Sash) and tackles (Angerer) all return, as well as punter Ryan Donahue and kickers Daniel Murray and Trent Mossbrucker.
“Seems like the younger guys coming up are doing a good job of being team leaders and trying to give us good energy in all phases,” Ferentz said. “I think we have a good core of guys, but they can’t ever get the feeling that they’re arrived. We’re excited about a lot of our young guys, too, that didn’t play last year and were red-shirted. We think we have some good young football players coming up.”
Losses to Doak Walker-winning running back Shonn Greene, defensive tackles Mitch King and Matt Kroul, cornerback Bradley Fletcher, linemen Rob Bruggeman and Seth Olsen, receiver/return specialist Andy Brodell and tight end Brandon Myers will leave an empty space.
“I don’t want to get too carried away here with our pre, pre, preseason euphoria. I know there’s a little bit of that out there. Last year is last year. This is a totally new team. We have a lot of question marks. I think all the guys who starting in that South Carolina game will be in NFL camps in August. It’s not that easy to replace that kind of production and quality. We have a lot of work to do and clearly the guys who are coming back are going to have to elevate their play. We need our guys who have played to really elevate their play and they’re all capable of that. If we’re going to have a good team we need that first before we worry about who the newcomers are going to be.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz
“When you graduate a good class of seniors, it all starts there,” Ferentz said. “There wasn’t a senior that we had last year that didn’t play their best football and they were all playing their best football at the end of the season. Great leadership. We’ve got a real void in terms of production and a huge void as far as leadership.”
Ferentz said another negative was injuries. Six Hawkeyes, who were either a returning starter or fighting for a starting position, will not see contact this spring. They are linebacker A.J. Edds, tight end Tony Moeaki, safeties Brett Greenwood and Sash, defensive lineman Cody Hundertmark and offensive lineman Andy Kuempel.
“We have too many guys that are out with injuries right now,” Ferentz said. “We had our share of postseason surgeries. That’s a pretty good dent with those six guys. On the other side, it really gives an opportunity for some younger players to get exposure.”
There was a glimmer of optimism from the injury front, where Ferentz didn’t rule out the return of oft-injured offensive lineman Dace Richardson.
“The arrow’s going up right now and every step’s been positive,” Ferentz said. “At least right now things are moving in the right direction. We have to be real smart about what we do this spring, but we’ll probably know more in the next four or five days how he’s going to handle those things. It would be great to have him back.”
There will be two new starting defensive tackles for the Hawkeyes for the first time since the 2004 season with the graduation of King and Kroul. The preliminary plans are to leave defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Broderick Binns on the outside at end.
“We’re planning on bringing the other guys along and see how they’ll do and see how things progress,” Ferentz said. “We have Karl Klug, Mike Daniels, Cody (Hundertmark) is a guy we thought would be in that equation..Steve Bigach, a freshman, we’ll see what those guys look like this spring. The one guy we are going to toy around with is Chad Geary. Chad’s done a nice job for us as a back-up end and has played well when he’s played. We’re going to toy around with him playing inside, too, and see what kind of knack he has for that.”
With Iowa coming off a nine-win, bowl championship-season, expectations are high for the 2009 campaign.
“I don’t want to get too carried away here with our pre, pre, preseason euphoria,” Ferentz said. “I know there’s a little bit of that out there. Last year is last year. This is a totally new team. We have a lot of question marks. I think all the guys who starting in that South Carolina game will be in NFL camps in August. It’s not that easy to replace that kind of production and quality. We have a lot of work to do and clearly the guys who are coming back are going to have to elevate their play. We need our guys who have played to really elevate their play and they’re all capable of that. If we’re going to have a good team we need that first before we worry about who the newcomers are going to be.”
Filling Greene’s void in the backfield will be another challenge for the Hawkeyes. Last season Greene rushed for 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns and finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
“Running back will be interesting,” Ferentz said. “We’re a different football team there. We’ll probably end up rotating some guys. We won’t expect anybody to have the production Shonn had. If they do, that would be wonderful, but we’re not counting on that realistically. It will probably be a couple three guys playing back there and we like the three guys we have lined up there right now.”
Last season Hampton rushed 91 times for 463 yards and seven touchdowns and Paki O’Meara carried the ball 21 times for 62 yards and two touchdowns.
The final day of spring practice will be Saturday, April 18. Iowa’s season-opener will be Saturday, Sept. 5, against Northern Iowa.