Hawkeyes Earn Third Straight Bowl Win

Dec. 29, 2010

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz and key players from Iowa’s 27-24 Insight Bowl win over 12th-ranked Missouri met with the media after the game, discussing the happenings that saw the Hawkeyes earn their third straight bowl win. The Hawkeyes conclude the 2010 season with an 8-5 record.

Q. Micah, what did you see on that play? It looked like you were following Gabbert as he rolled to his left and stepped in front of the defender. What did you see on that play?

Micah Hyde: The first thing, you know, our defensive line did a great job pressuring him and getting him out of the pocket. I just stepped in front of it and our defense turned into an offensive play, you know. I couldn’t have done it without the defense. I just all I did was run, honestly. And they were picking up blocks the whole time. So it was a great team effort.

Q. Ricky, a lot of highs and a lot of lows this year. Does this win validate the season and make it a success for you?

Ricky Stanzi: You know, we kind of go in parts as a team. And, you know, we’ve put the past behind us, and this month was all about getting back to work, you know, putting in the time in the film room out there at practice and doing the right things. It started with Coach Ferentz setting the schedule for us and getting us on the right track early on, and back at Iowa we had a lot of hard practices and we did the same thing over here in Arizona. And, you know, it paid off on the field tonight with a nice team victory?

Q. Marcus, you didn’t look like a true freshman out there. At what point did you hit your comfort level? Was it the first drive? When did you know it is a big stage and I can handle it?

Marcus Coker: I mean, I already knew before the game that the O line was going to do a great job. I was pretty comfortable after the first couple plays. I felt like I was a little bit more comfortable than I was before that.

Q. Ricky and Adrian, what’s the thought what’s the conversation when you guys are waiting for the review on fourth down with a minute and change to go and we don’t know whether or not he has caught the ball or whether or not you will get the ball back and end the game?

Adrian Clayborn: I thought he caught it, honestly. The guys in the sky know more than I do, and I’m just glad they overturned it. It was a great feeling, I guess. Ricky Stanzi: On the offensive side, our conversation is a little different. If they do convert it, then you start thinking more about a two minute possibility. If not, you find a way to run the clock out. So you just kind of play with both scenarios and wait for whatever decision it may be.

Q. Micah and Adrian, after this year the defense has had, it has been well documented that you had many opportunities to close the game out and did it. What’s it like in the final game of the year to come out and do what you guys did and shut down a great offense in the fourth quarter?

Adrian Clayborn: It feels great to finally close out a game. I mean, we kind of focused on that this month. Getting back to work and playing every play and not taking plays off and just focusing and being detailed in what we do. And I think that showed tonight on the field. Micah Hyde: Just going along the lines with that, every day in practice the defense works hard. Sometimes stuff doesn’t go your way. We saw that in the past games. But, you know, we stuck to it and that’s the number one thing, and tonight we played as a team and it was a great effort.

Q. During kind of the bye time between the last game and the Bowl game, sometimes coaches either loosen up or get tighter, fortress mentality. What did you guys do to try to right the ship, if you will, in this last couple of weeks?

Ricky Stanzi: You know, we just we knew we had to get back to work. There was a lot of mistakes that we had made in games that were correctible, whether they were mental or physical. So our main focus was having very good practices, giving really good effort and competing every single day. And that was what our focus was early on, and we carried that all the way through the trip and then we took it to the game field with us.

Q. Marcus and Micah, it is a great punctuation point on the end of the season, but you are going to say good bye to 25 seniors. How much are you going to miss the senior class and how difficult is it going to be to take this program up a level without the leadership that they had?

Micah Hyde: Well, you know, they’re our leaders. Day in and day out, they led us in the right direction. And the seniors, they’re great. Any one of us can hang out with any one of the seniors, that’s how close our team is. And it was just a great opportunity to play with them. And we’re definitely going to be sad that they’re leaving.

Marcus Coker: I agree. This game was devoted to them just to get that last one. So they’re going to be missed a lot.

COACH FERENTZ: Needless to say we’re just really thrilled with the outcome of the game today. Awful lot of respect for Missouri coming into this game, and even more now. They are a tremendous football team. Very well coached with a lot of great players. We are really excited to get the victory. We knew it was going to be tough, and it certainly was. One thing about the game for sure, we certainly played better on special teams. That’s something that’s been very inconsistent for us. And I thought special teams impacted the game positively for us. And the other highlight is our seniors, I just heard finishing up here that 25 great guys in the class and they leave here with 28 victories I believe under their belts the last three years and three straight Bowl wins, which is historic for our program. So just can’t say enough about the big picture, what they’ve done throughout their careers, the leadership they’ve provided and not just the play on the field but all the other things they’ve done to help us have success. They are very excited to see those guys leave with a victory and a great feeling.

. After the seasons that you had the last two years, it seems pretty fitting that this Bowl game would come down to a minute or so and even a review to decide who is going to have the ball and who is going to have the chance to win it.

COACH FERENTZ: We have been in a lot of close games the last three years actually. They are a lot more fun when they come out the right way. They are a credit to our players. They believed in themselves. They prepared for this. We knew it would be a real tough challenge playing Missouri. And I think our guys earned this throughout the whole month. They just worked extremely hard. It was a short turnaround time with finals and them playing on the 28th. So it was a great challenge and we had to push it, but the guys really again, the seniors led the way, but everybody followed suit with those guys.

Q. After this December, was it almost a relief to be out coaching a football game and can you discuss Adam’s status with the team?

COACH FERENTZ: Well, the last question, I think a statement has been made. I don’t know what I would add to that. And then, secondly, you know, December was December. We had a Bowl bid and we went back to work. In particular the last two weeks, once finals were over, it’s we’ve been working hard and I have been focused on the players that have been out there on the field every day. I have been focused on I think all of us have been focused for trying to prepare for a very tough opponent. That’s where our thoughts have been, and just thrilled with all the guys the job they did on this trip from start to finish, from the time they got off the plane to the end of the game here. They have done a great, great job. That’s where my thoughts are.

. About Marcus Coker, what about his performance? Did you expect that? And did you expect to run the football that way?

COACH FERENTZ: We hoped to run the football. I don’t think you ever expect to have your back at 221 yards. I’m just looking down, 219 net, I guess. I just heard from Gary Dolphin on the radio it puts him in pretty elite company with Bob Jeter and Shonn Greene, two great football players. We said back in August we thought Marcus would be a great player for us. Unfortunately he got hurt. He has been playing catchup through the season. When he had opportunities during the fall, he really did a good job. Tonight was certainly his best outing, his best performance, and he is a tremendous young man. So just really proud of him. I know he probably gave a lot of credit to his teammates. He got a lot of help from guys like Brett Morse, the offensive line, the tight ends, receivers blocking, Rick Stanzi getting him in the right place. It was just a team effort. We are really proud of what Marcus did tonight and it was a big part of the win. We felt like we needed him to run the ball for us to have a chance in this one.

. Maybe the only stat that jumps out more than 219 rushing yards is 434 passing yards for Blaine Gabbert. Was the goal in this game to keep Missouri from running and let him throw end zone to end zone?

COACH FERENTZ: I don’t know that was the plan right there. What did he have I know this, he better be icing his arm. What a tremendous football player. He looked good on film. He looks even better in person. He made a couple throws on their sideline that were those are big time throws. He has got a lot of poise. They are very well coached, very precision run offense. They make it tough on you in a lot of regards, the run and pass, a lot of different things they do in the passing games. We knew that would be a tough challenge. We were hoping we could run the ball. The other stat I think our guys can be really proud of, they protected the quarterback well, and that was going to be a real challenge. 38 sacks coming into the game, Missouri has. They are a very active pass rush group. I thought our guys up front really responded to that challenge, and they helped us give us a chance to win the game.

Q. So many times this year the defense failed to close out games in the fourth quarter. How nice was it to see the defense step up and win the Bowl game?

COACH FERENTZ: It was good for all of us just to be able to get off the field. They came up with a couple big stops in the second half. Certainly nothing bigger than that last one. And there’s no better feeling than to close out a game with the ball in your hands, and our offense did that, came up with that big third down play. It wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t gotten off the field there on that series. Believe me, all of us were worried about that because of their explosiveness offensively. They’ve also got a tremendous field goal kicker. He is money in the bank. If had he gotten down in there, we were probably looking at overtime. So it was huge to get the stop.

Q. The play Hyde made to make the pick was big enough, but to stay on his feet and continue running around until finally opening, how do you describe him as a talent?
After the Michigan State game, I had this after he made it into the end zone, it came back to me we might have to move him to offense, except we don’t have enough guys on defense. Just a heck of a play. He is a very skilled athlete. Had good ball skills in high school, good returnability and what have you. So we may have to get him a little bit more involved in those areas. But it was just a huge play in the game, obvious statement there. But gave us a real spark when we had lost momentum. And just picked the entire team up. That’s what it takes when you are going to try to upset a team as good as Missouri. It takes some great efforts, individual efforts. The other guys did a great job blocking for him along the way. And our team has done that pretty much over the years. It was a great effort and a huge play in the game certainly.

Q. After everything this team has gone through this year, the way you guys have lost the last month, the incident last night, Norm Parker being back and the way you won this game, was this a little bit more emotional than games recently for you guys, a Bowl win? Is it just a little bit mean a little bit more?

COACH FERENTZ: We haven’t had a bad Bowl win. They have all been great. All the losses hurt. Every year is different. Every year is different. We lost two in a row last year, and that was a tough stretch. We lost more than that this year. Our guys showed up to compete for the most part, and they have made games close. Tonight we came out on top. It is a great feeling. And it is something they earned. They got it the old fashioned way. They earn out and earned it. Again, throughout this month, it didn’t just happen this week, they have been working hard all month. Most importantly, they closed out the deal this week. They did a great job here. That’s tricky. You are in such a beautiful place. We got treated way better than anybody should ever be treated. I can’t say enough about the people with the Insight Bowl, just a first class operation. It is as good as we have ever had, and we have had some great ones. That was great. Our guys were able to enjoy the Bowl and also prepare. And, most importantly, they competed tonight start to finish. And it was you know, both teams deserved to win. Both teams played hard. I’m thrilled for our guys.

Q. There were several big plays during the game. Specifically talk about the long drive they had in the first quarter. How important was it to hold them to a field goal?

COACH FERENTZ: It is huge. Any time you are playing a team like this it is true with any team, but a team as explosive as Missouri is offensively, there is a big difference between 3 and 7. Those four points are big and they add up over the course of the game. When you play competitive teams, you are playing a competitive league, it’s typically winning teams play good red zone defense. Missouri is a great example. I don’t know if we have played a team in my 12 years back at Iowa any better than that in the red zone. Their statistics are just gaudy. It was good for us to do that. We talked about the big play Hyde made. That helped overcome the turnover we had. We had two turnovers in the second half which is a little bit uncharacteristic and tough to overcome. But we flipped it around with Hyde’s play certainly. All those things add up any time you are in a three point game. Everything is important. Every play is important.

Q. What kind of timetable are you looking at on making a decision on Adam Robinson?

COACH FERENTZ: I think I addressed that earlier. Gary made a statement today. And I really don’t have anything to add to it. I have been kind of occupied with this game, as you might imagine. It has been a busy day. It’s really not paramount on my thoughts now. I’m going to go home and enjoy this win.

Q. Can you talk about the emotions you were feeling

COACH FERENTZ: That was asked before. I’m sorry.

Q. The hug with Norm at the end of the game.

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, Scott, you know, Norm’s what a great guy he is, what a great contribution he’s made over the 12 years. And this is everybody talks about tough year for our team, tough year for him. The things he has had to face, the obstacles. That’s life. It is one of those tough things. He has kept a positive attitude. He’s done everything in his power to be with us and fortunately this month played out where he is a lot more involved. It was great to have him back with us, back on the headphones and back involved. Just great to have him back in the office. We’re hardly out of the woods yet, but we will take it a day at a time, a week at a time. I know this I can’t say enough about the job everybody did in his absence. But it is like any great player, you are better with your great player with you. And Norm is certainly one of our bell cow guys.

Q. All the struggles on and off the field, do you think that helped your team get stronger and get together more, so to speak?
Aaron Kampman spoke to our team probably a week after it was right after his surgery and Aaron was facing a different kind of challenge going through his second ACL surgery. He gave a great talk, but one of the points he made, you get injured, you have two choices. We faced some adversity this year. That’s life. You have two choices, one is not a choice. So you just keep pushing forward. That’s all we’ve done.

. On that same tone, obviously you want to always end something on a positive note and with the 25 seniors, they played their final game here tonight. Is this the way I mean, when you look on it, ultimately all they have gone through in the last couple of months, is this success?

COACH FERENTZ: No question about it. That’s why, again, I think you can look at the big picture. We didn’t we are not going to be a Top Ten team this year. I know that. We were a year ago, and that was you know, it was a great experience. But this year it didn’t play out that way. It wasn’t for a lack of commitment I don’t think or lack of effort. It just didn’t go that way. Some days are better than others. Some years are going to be better than others. It is how you handle things and how you push forward on a daily basis. And I think these seniors have done a great job. To finish up again with wins, three straight Bowls Bowl victories like they’ve done and all the things they’ve done that you can’t put numbers on and what have you, that’s what it’s all about and that’s what this experience is about. I’m not naive. I understand you have got to win enough games and all that stuff. These guys have really done a great job, 16 of them graduated a week and a half ago, seven more in May, and one last May. So they have really done a great job of, to me, exemplifying what it should be like to be a Hawkeye, and we are just so, so proud of all those guys. Again, the Stanzis and Clayborns, those guys got a lot of notoriety, but a guy like Josh Koeppel and go right down the list. Kyle Haganman, who barely played but was out working, doing all the same things, that’s what makes coaching so much of a pleasure. And work with a lot of quality people both on the staff and players. 21 years at Iowa, and I can see that about each and every team that has come through that. We have had a lot of great, great players, a lot of former players in the locker room. Grant Steen, Tim Dwight, Tom Knight, guys that are still invested in the program. That’s what makes being an Iowa Hawkeye so special.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you for coming.