March 20, 2012
Complete Press Conference Transcript
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Spring is a time for growing, and that includes the University of Iowa football program.
With spring practice beginning Wednesday, Hawkeye head coach Kirk Ferentz said his young team is ready to move on to the next phase of training, which is spring ball…and growth. Ferentz addressed media Tuesday in the Player’s Auditorium of the Hayden Fry Football Complex.
“It’s a chance for us right now, we have a very young football team,” Ferentz said. “The one thing we talked about our team is the need to grow. We need to grow as a staff. Every player needs to grow. The veteran players, the guys that have been out there that have competed, had a chance to do good things, they need to play their best next fall and need to lead.”
Iowa will be especially young at running back, wide receiver and defensive line. First-time defensive line coach Reese Morgan will have his work cut out for him early, as two experienced linemen — junior Dominic Alvis and sophomore Carl Davis — will miss most of spring ball while rehabbing knee injuries.
The good news is that the Hawkeyes have a history of finding and developing gems during the spring season.
“That’s kind of one of the neat things about spring ball, you never know where stories are going to come from. One constant is we always have needs. It’s always been that way. It’s that way again this year. We’ve been lucky to have guys step up. It’s fun to see who emerges here in the next couple weeks.”
UI head football coach
“That’s kind of one of the neat things about spring ball, you never know where stories are going to come from,” Ferentz said. “One constant is we always have needs. It’s always been that way. It’s that way again this year. We’ve been lucky to have guys step up. It’s fun to see who emerges here in the next couple weeks.”
The Hawkeyes return 40 letterwinners and 12 starters from a team that finished 7-6 overall and played in its fourth consecutive bowl game.
For much of the UI coaching staff, it will be a case of — in Ferentz’s words — teaching old dogs new tricks. Greg Davis has replaced Ken O’Keefe as offensive coordinator, Phil Parker has replaced Norm Parker as defensive coordinator, Morgan has moved from coaching offensive line to defensive line, Darrell Wilson is shifting from linebackers to defensive backs, LeVar Woods is coaching linebackers, and Brian Ferentz brings his NFL experience to work with the offensive line.
“We’re comfortable with the path we’re going down right now,” Ferentz said. “But there’s a lot of new nomenclature, terminology, and we’re all learning right now. Even the old dogs are trying to learn some new tricks.”
Ferentz said that even without the coaching changes, the program was going to examine what it was doing. Back-to-back records of 4-4 in the Big Ten Conference forced that, he said.
“The bottom line is, we’re 4 4 (in conference play), which I think you’re well aware of,” Ferentz said. “We’re 4 4 the last two years. If that’s the best you can do, there’s nothing wrong with that. We’ve been here 13 years. There’s not a year we haven’t felt like we left something out there. It’s the nature of coaching. The bottom line is we want to move forward. If 4 4 is the best we can be, that’s fine. But we’re shooting for something higher than that, always have been. The downside of continuity and stability is sometimes you just kind of stay on that same path. It’s time to look at a lot of things. That’s what we’re trying to do right now. It’s fun. It’s invigorating. We were going to do it regardless of what happened with our staff personnel wise.”
The Hawkeyes will spend spring training in either Kinnick Stadium or The Bubble because of construction on the Indoor Athletics Practice and Recreation Facility which borders the Kenyon Football Practice Facility.
“We have a lot of things going on around here, makes it tricky to get into work right now, but we’re excited about the indoor facility going up,” Ferentz said. “It was good to see the structure starting to take shape. Our players are excited about that — a little bit of an inconvenience right now with the remodeling, but it will be good to get in there next summer for sure. It’s going to be nice to have a permanent structure. We’ll be able to practice more effectively, efficiently, safely. Those are all important things. It’s also important for recruiting.”
Iowa opens the season Sept. 1 against Northern Illinois at Chicago’s Soldier Field.