Coach Kirk Ferentz Postgame Press Conference Transcript

Oct. 30, 2010

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COACH FERENTZ: I’ll make my comments brief. Just first of all, really proud of our players. I thought they played a great football game. Most importantly, they played a complete game. That’s something we have struggled to do this year.

And I thought the guys came out ready at kickoff, certainly, and for the first time we really put it together in all three phases; and most significantly, our special teams, we were much, much better today. Just thought the effort was more what we were looking for, and really proud of that.

And then our veteran guys have given us good leadership, certainly, all season long. They did a great job this week and then younger guys step you go up and doing some nice things, too.

Both linebackers, James and Shane jumping in there and doing a nice job. And again, the older guys looking out after them.

I was remiss last week. I didn’t talk about our fans. That stadium last week was outstanding, and today, I think they might have been even better. I mean, they were ready to go, too. That’s something we appreciate. We don’t take it for granted. You know, it was just a great environment in Kinnick.

Q. All throughout the week, when you got to Friday, apparently you thought the team was really focused on what they were going to do.
COACH FERENTZ: You know, we practiced well I thought all week, but I’m guessing, I don’t know — some questions you don’t ask. I’m sure all of us were bleeding a little bit.

But I thought Thursday, I thought our guys really were very sharp in practice. It looked like a good way to finish the week and conclude it. It’s always good to come off the field Thursday feeling good about our execution. I thought everybody was wired in. They were ready to go today.

Q. You’re always talking about staying the course; is this — these last two weeks, is this an example of what can happen when you don’t overreact and not panic?
COACH FERENTZ: You know, you’ve got a 12-game schedule. You’ve got to play them all. It’s sometimes easier said than done. It will be a challenge this week, too, big win and now we have to get back on the ground here Monday.

So you know, there’s always a tussle that way, but you know, I think if I was going to cite one thing, our veteran leadership again. We have got a great group of seniors. A lot of guys in that junior class, too, that do a good job. So that was really helpful.

And you’ve got two ways to respond, when you lose a game. Certainly we are all disappointed, you get in the fetal position; you come out and start playing again. That’s what our guys did and so I’m really proud of them.

Q. Talk about your linebackers taking another hit; looked like Tyler Nielsen may have a problem?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, he’s had some — he’s been dinged up a little bit during the course of the year, but I saw him in the locker room a minute ago, I think he’ll be fine. I think we’re pretty good on the injury front.

Q. What was your reaction to Tyler’s pick and pitch?
COACH FERENTZ: I thought it looked pretty good to me. I don’t know if those guys have been practicing on their own or what. I thought it looked awfully good.

You know, a little bit of a risque play I guess, but sometimes that isn’t bad. We have got a lot of faith in all those guys. Micah was a little surprised, I was talking to him in the locker room a little bit and he was getting ready to block, and next thing you know the ball is there. He knew what to do with it and it was just a great play.

Q. How big was that in the scheme — the drive?
COACH FERENTZ: I mentioned the special teams play and then we did a great job of protecting the football today, and then we were opportunistic; and then on top of that we made some big plays and that was one of them certainly, not only getting the pick but converting it. That’s a payback for the hook and lateral last year that nailed us; one of those kind of things.

We came up with a lot of big plays, be it that or some of the passes we hit today. Ricky did a great job putting the ball where it had to go and those kinds of things help you get a little bit of a margin.

Q. Taking chances and having fun, I mean, you know, obviously accomplished.
COACH FERENTZ: That one there is taking a chance a little bit, but I don’t think knowing Tyler (Sash), I don’t think he would have done it if he felt like there was danger. I think in his estimation, it was probably a fairly safe play.

You just trust your older guys to do things like that. You know, so it just turned out to be a heck of a spark for us.

Q. The nation today got a chance to see Stanzi at his best I would think.
COACH FERENTZ: I can’t say enough again about the way he’s led our football team, first and foremost. His statistics are fantastic. But the way he’s leading our team, our offensive team; and everybody respects the guy so much. He’s done a great job.

Again, to me, it kind of clicked in for him at that Orange Bowl game and he’s had his foot on the gas ever since. We all feel pretty good when he’s out there taking snaps for us.

Q. Did you see this coming at all this week?
COACH FERENTZ: How could you? How could you? Most of these games, we’ve talked about that, most of the games in this series have been extremely close. Certain things you certainly don’t foresee. I’m just glad it went our way today.

Q. Did you give out any game balls today to anybody?
COACH FERENTZ: No, we didn’t. You know, you’d have to give out a hundred of them I think and I don’t think the NCAA allows us to do that. Maybe we include it in the Bowl package. Just really proud of the way the team responded, everybody.

Q. Was Norm just an observer or did he have any input?
COACH FERENTZ: He was up there and chirped in every now and then. He has not been doing enough day-to-day work. I think a few tidbits in there, that was great. And rumor has it he was going up I-380 and smoking a cigar on the way back midway through the fourth quarter. That’s strictly a rumor. I don’t think his doctors would appreciate him smoking cigars right now. He’s fine.

Q. Can you talk about the group right now, seemed like almost every possession or every other play you were not running the same base formation, three wide receivers, and the next play it would be something else.
COACH FERENTZ: We do that a lot. I thought the game plan was great. I thought Ken made some tremendous calls a couple of the big plays were just a perfect time for it.

You know, but again, as good as all that was, and I thought the offensive staff really put a good plan together, but it gets down to execution. Our players, they carried through and did a great job.

Q. The decision to throw the reverse pass at that point in the game, was that —
COACH FERENTZ: We were trying to score a touchdown. You know, we are not — still a little nervous at that point, and they are playing the run tough. They are playing it really hard in that second half, which you would expect. So we are just trying to get a little bit more breathing room and go from there.

Q. Did you have any substantial fear about the team snapping back this week?
COACH FERENTZ: You know, you worry about that all the time, just like next week I’ll be worried about us, you know, not — looking backward, you know, for a different reason I guess, and that’s what coaches worry about. That’s just one of those things you worry about.

But you know, that being said, you know, we have got a real good group of seniors obviously. It starts there. They really set the bar for the rest of the team. I think we have a high character football team. You like to think that everybody is going to come back out and play their best, and a lot of other variables, you just don’t know how those things are going to go.

Like I said, most notably, I think our younger players really stepped up today, and I think our special teams — it was reflected on special teams, but other areas, as well. All of those things come together, you have a chance to have a good performance.

Q. You had a 37-point lead going into the fourth quarter and some of your starters including Ricky played the whole game. Was there ever a thought to getting him out?
COACH FERENTZ: There was but maybe we are gun-shy right now. 37-6, we knew we would have to screw it up probably to have this thing go the other direction.

But you know, we just wanted to finish the game out. We got a lot of guys in. There were a lot of guys in there. We didn’t want to give up anything easier or make it too dramatic. It was kind of a weird fourth quarter statistically but that’s all right, we’ll live with that.

Q. Talk about the second-half performance defensively, no letup for the most part.
COACH FERENTZ: You know, I thought they kept their foot on the gas all day; and you have to. I mean, Michigan State is a very explosive team. They are an excellent football team. We had tremendous respect for them coming in; we still do. They are not done. They are going to have a great season. That’s going to go without saying.

So you know, it’s just one those things, I think our guys understood we had to play the whole game.

Q. Can you talk about Coker’s performance and do you think you’ll use him in closer ballgames in the future?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, I think I said Tuesday — in fact, we intended on playing him last week, and it’s just like, where do you put him in. I was a little nervous today when he went in there, too. I think it was right before the half, wasn’t it? Maybe we shouldn’t have done that.

But we just decided the other day, we were going to get him in there and we need to bring him along. He’s earned that and he’s worked hard in practice and I think he’s caught up now from that injury. We are going to have to find a way to spell Adam. Adam continues to play really well. He just does a great job.

But to play in a schedule, in a conference like we are in and a schedule like we have, we are going to need more than one guy. Sometimes you need a little push. So we got him out there. I thought he did a nice job. Brad Rogers did a good job. Really glad to see Brad Herman come up with some big plays. I thought to me a huge part of the game today. And you know, a lot of good contributions of those young linebackers. Great to have Jeff Tarpinian back, too. First time he’s had any game action in a month. You know that was really good.

Q. Did you notice any different of attitude and intensity from your team this week?
COACH FERENTZ: No, not really. I think we have been practicing pretty well throughout — since our non-league portion schedule. I think once we moved into the Big Ten, we started having a semblance of the pace and tempo you’re looking for.

So I think that’s been pretty consistent. And you know, I thought we practiced pretty well overall this week. Finished up on a real strong note. But I think overall it was pretty good. And then you’ve got to go out and play the game.

Q. You showed a lot of 3-4 today, brought in Tarpinian, is that a way of limiting him to get him back into the game a little bit?
COACH FERENTZ: Our thought with him was more passing downs regardless of what package we were in. They were playing a lot of four-, five-wides out there. That’s really where that comes in. We were trying to get him to quit throwing that slant ball; having a hard time with that. It was good to get Jeff out there, really good. And he played on special teams, too, on that punt team, which we are a little thin there. So that was big for him.

Q. James Morris, a true freshman, seemed to make true freshman mistakes?
COACH FERENTZ: I thought he played well from where I stood. Really aggressive. He’s got a great constitute. We’ve said all that before. He did a great job in that Penn State game. Today is his first start. Thought he really handled it well. And again, the team responded to him. They really like what he does in practice. He works hard and he’s respected, and I think he’s got a great future. We are really excited about that.