News Conference Transcripts

April 23, 2014

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COACH FERENTZ: We have some positions that are kind of obvious and others ones right now that you just switch names around, it really is going to be a pretty fluid process. We have some great competition going on and I think we’ll know more in August where we are on things, but the guys are working hard there. Bit of bad news that I have to share is Jon Wisnieski injured his knee a week ago. He’s going to have to have surgery and we’ll be able to have him ready to go in August. So that’s the only bad thing that’s taken place.

Then the other obvious thing, just wanted to talk about Eric Johnson, found out Friday about his decision, something that he and his family gave a lot of consideration and thought to. I don’t think he rushed into this by any stretch and it’s basically just a career decision that he chose to make. We were all surprised a little bit on one hand but also understand totally. He’s got a young family. So just wanted to say, again, how much we appreciate all that he’s done. He’s been here from day one, 15 plus years now and he’s done a wonderful job in a lot of different roles but you couldn’t ask for anybody to do a better job than did he. Wish him all the best as he moves forward.

In the short term right now, our big focus is finishing this week, doing the best we can to have our team improve, and then we’ll turn our attention to spring recruiting and work through the process. But there’s no big hurry right now, and it’s totally an open canvas as far as I’m concerned. We’ll just give it some thought after this week and try to do what’s best for the program moving forward. So we’ll go from there.

Looking backward real quickly, the trip to Valley Des Moines went very well. The staff was tremendous and they have been great to work with the last two years so we appreciate that and appreciate the fans showing up. It was a nice day and nice crowd and we appreciate that and look forward to doing that again.

Turning our attention to this week, we have a great event here at 2:00 and prior to that we’ll have Camp Kinnick. It’s an initiative the Hawkeye Football Club began a year ago and was popular and it filled up quickly this year. That will be before the spring scrimmage. And we’ll use the same scoring system, I think that was popular with the fans. Certainly our players enjoyed it. Outside, the defensive coaches, I think everybody enjoyed that.

The only thing I think we’ll change is at 1:15 we’ll do a 20 minute autograph session, which probably won’t get everybody taken care of, but at least give some of the younger fans a chance to get some autographs from our players. And after 20 minutes we’ll get them warmed up and get them started around two o’clock. So we are looking forward to that. I know there’s a food drive, and strongly encourage anybody to donate to that. And most importantly just want to encourage everybody to come out and get a look at the team. Should be a great day and we are looking forward to wrapping it up. I know the players always enjoy having fans in the stadium so we’ll look forward to that. Meantime we have a couple practices.

Q. What are your plans for the recruiting position?
COACH FERENTZ: I think the big thing again, it all hit quick; I found out Friday. We have had a lot on our plate just with spring practice, and so a couple ideas pop into mind. But really the smart thing to do right now is make sure everything covered in the short term, make some adjustments and take some time to think about this. I want to talk to everybody on the staff and get their ideas, as well. If it means re-tweaking or reshaping, it will give us a chance to discuss those things and not rush into it.

Q. You’re not necessarily looking into a new recruiting coordinator, there may be some position shuffle?
COACH FERENTZ: There’s a high probability he will be the recruiting coordinator, but how that role changes, I think that’s something we all have to discuss and give thought to.

Q. Do you split up St. Louis and Indianapolis in the interim?
COACH FERENTZ: Probably not right now. The thought is for Jim Reid to get out and take those areas. He was in Ohio. We had shifted him to Ohio, so he will probably pick up the areas he covered so well and Jim is an excellent recruiter, as well. So I think he’ll really do a great job that way, and then we’ll compensate in the further outlying areas a little bit more as we go along there. Have to figure out how to plan there.

Q. Jon Wisnieski is out for the season?
COACH FERENTZ: We’ll see. That’s tough to predict. We’ll take it month but month. He’s a good guy and he was doing a good job, but at least he’s a young guy and it wasn’t his senior year.

Q. Do you have anybody on the staff that could take on the title of player personnel?
COACH FERENTZ: I’m not sure exactly what that entails totally, but we all kind of work as a group on that, and I guess I’m the GM and I don’t know. Eric did a lot as far as keeping track of eligibility and things like that and how our classes were balanced, shaped, and that was something we worked together on. But really pretty much everything we do we share as a staff and meet on it and discuss it.

Q. Chic, is he a candidate or can he be an option in outside recruiting?
COACH FERENTZ: Basically his focus is more so on the players that are here and the general initiatives, having them adjust better to college. We have academic advisors, strength and conditioning coaches, football coaches, but he was like a life coach for them getting to campus. So basically his involvement in recruiting was to make sure prospects and their families understand what his role is and why it’s so important. It’s just one more resource that’s available. He got with the parents, but not giving a pitch if you will.

Q. So a high probability that the new assistant will also be the new recruiting coordinator. Does that speed up the timetable?
COACH FERENTZ: No, we believe this stuff never ends. It’s just ongoing. We have a list of guys we’ve offered right now. So those are the first guys we are going to get out and see here in the spring recruiting. But the biggest thing is to make sure we have our areas recovered. So obviously the areas that are void with EJ leaving, somebody has to fill those and Jim is going to shift into that role and we’ll cover the areas that he was going to get to. But the other thing that’s changed is now we are allowed to have nine guys on the road, as opposed to seven. So what we have been doing in the past with seven guys, we still have eight available, so it’s not like it’s a big shift. If this were January or December, it would be a little bit different, but I think it’s pretty easy and it allows us to be more methodical with the process and that’s our plan right now.

Q. Do you do you anything differently looking for a recruiting coordinator than you would a position coach?
COACH FERENTZ: Obviously the area of expertise is important but I don’t want to put any restrictions on any applicants or prospects that way. But it’s like everything, we are just trying to get people that we really think are going to be great fits here, embrace our culture and feel comfortable working with our staff and our staff working with them. I guess that’s the most important thing. And then we can tailor the job description or they can learn whatever they have to learn on the run. But to me, it’s all about getting people that are really going to fit in well. I’m pleased with the guys that have joined our staff the last two years, it’s kind of a mixed bag, wide range of prospects, if you will, but they have all really fit in well and been great with our players and that’s the ultimate consideration.

Q. The NCAA just eased some of its restructions regarding how you can feed players. How do you adjust?
COACH FERENTZ: I think they still have to put the final stamp on that, and we’ll wait and see what they put out specifically. But I think we’ll see changes here the next couple years and I think that’s a good thing. However they change, we’ll go right with it. It’s all positive and it’s good for the student athletes, which is to me that’s what it’s all about.

Q. Sorry about the loss of your father in law.

Q. Any football stories you will always remember?
COACH FERENTZ: A lot of stories with him. He really had a great life, was a great father in law. The thing I remember most about him, just he had a great life, he had it all, had a good family, good experience in football, he was a ten year official in the NFL. His job was entertaining, people, golf. He was good at sales, don’t get me wrong, but that was part of sales when he was in the ranks. With his football connections he did a lot of neat Super Bowl events. That’s one thing about Jerry, he had a good time doing what he did.

Greg Davis: Well, I think there’s a couple of things you always want to get done in spring training and one is get your base offense in or defense or whatever. The second thing is, you want to look at different things that you saw in the off season, things that you don’t think may be appropriate to implement to what you do. And the third thing about spring training is you want to look at the young kids.

So after 12 practices, we feel like we have got the base offense in. We have looked at a few things that were slightly different than what we did in the past and we have got a good look at some of the young guys. We feel like it’s been a good spring. We’ve stayed healthy. Kids have worked hard, so I feel like if we get through the next three days healthy, we’ll get a lot accomplished this spring.

Q. Is C.J. Beathard closer to Jake Rudock now than he was at this time last year or could you even make that comparison?
Greg Davis: We are real pleased with C.J. He’s doing a good job. But we are real pleased with Jake, too. Jake is an extremely bright guy, he’s gifted. He’s healthy again. He’s running around, making plays. I just feel fortunate that we have two quarterbacks that we feel like can go in and play.

Q. So your idea as far as running quarterback with these guys is still enough to aggravate the defense. Is that right?
Greg Davis: Sure. We would like for those guys to be able to extend plays. We would like those guys to be able to run some quarterback draw. We have the zone read as part of our big package but it’s not something that we focus on. But we do want them to be able to break, contain and go make plays with their feet because those are plays that the defense can’t account for.

Q. Does one distinguish himself over the other in that regard? I think they are both similar.
Greg Davis: Yeah, they are. C.J. is probably a little quicker right to left. If you ran them in a 40, they would probably run pretty close to the same time. When Jake was healthy, there’s a Michigan play that comes to mind on third down, he breaks out and makes 20 yards, and you know, he was able to give us all those things. C.J. is a little shiftier and if they played tag, C.J. would probably win.

Q. Is there enough there to give C.J. a series here and there in games?
Greg Davis: It’s something that we have discussed as an offensive staff. We will continue to look at it as something we want to implement next year.

Q. Are you still determined to run more plays? You increased the number last year from the year before. Where is that on your to do list?
Greg Davis: It’s something that we want to continue to get better at. I think we jumped last year about eight plays a ballgame or somewhere in that area. We can function totally without a huddle now, even though we can huddle if we choose to. And we have picked the tempo up. It’s been a little bit of a process because we play with so many different personnel groupings. When you play with one personnel grouping a lot, it’s real easy to play tempo football. So we have tried to modify it to fit 21 personnel, 12 personnel, 22, to fit a bunch of different personnel groupings. At the same time we don’t want to get away from allowing our quarterback some time at the line of scrimmage to get us in and out of good plays. There’s an advantage to playing tempo that everybody is aware of, but there’s also a disadvantage into sometimes you run plays into looks that you probably wouldn’t if your quarterback was up there making decisions at the line of scrimmage for you.

Q. Last season, the big question was, quarterback slot, and now that seems pretty settled and you have a couple guys with experience. What’s the big question now going into next season offensively?
Greg Davis: The offensive line is an area where we lost two really good players, Brett Van Sloten and Connor Bofelli. So the depth there is a concern. I think the first group has come along pretty well this spring. But we are concerned about the depth.

Q. Last year you look at the incoming wide receivers and all their talent and the times you want to use it but you decided to redshirt them. What have you seen out of them since they have taken since now they have been able to compete for playing time?
Greg Davis: Two guys have really kind of stepped closer to the fray, if you will. Not that we are not pleased with some of the progress that all of them have made. But Derrick Willies has really had a good spring. He’s getting more confidence. He had a big day at Valley and that really carried over to since we left there and so he’s playing with a lot more confidence. So we’re very pleased with what he’s done. Matt VandeBerg in another, although he did play some as a true freshman, he has really stepped up. Matt is a guy that can play more than one spot. When you’re playing with tempo, and for the receivers to play in the run and the pass game, the way you want, you have to rotate some players in there. Andre Harris has flashed and done some things, as well as Derrick Mitchell and hopefully with the next three days and then fall camp, they may be in a position, but Derrick has had a really good spring for us.

Q. So the competition is much greater than when you walked into
Greg Davis: Much greater.

Q. Do you feel that the holdover guys like Jacob Hillyer and Tevaun Smith do you feel like they have taken similar strides?
Greg Davis: Yeah. Bobby Kennedy, first of all has done a great job. He’s come in and he’s kind of re energized that group, and he’s brought the young kids along. Tevaun Smith has had a really good spring and is playing at a very high level. Kevonte, you kind of know what he’s going to be, and even though he hasn’t practiced the last couple days with a groin, it’s not a big deal. I mean, he’ll be there. Jacob Hillyer is kind of like a security blanket. He will block he attacks the ball with his hands and so we’re real pleased with where he’s at. And I didn’t mention Damond Powell. Damond is a guy that has gotten better and is learning, is continuing to learn and hopefully he’ll be able to play a little bigger role next year.

Q. Last season you ran the ball about 60 percent of the time, as it worked out, you do have pretty good depth at running back, how do you fit that in with trying to work in all these new receivers to get in the offensive game?
Greg Davis: We also have good tight ends. So, you know, from a philosophical standpoint, if it was a perfect number at the end of the year, it would probably be somewhere around 55 run, 45 pass. Every game is different. We’ll continue to try to be a team that as we grow, especially in the passing game, that can beat you either way. Regardless of what formation or personnel grouping we’re in, we just want the best receivers, whether or not it’s two of them out there or three of them out there; or if it’s two tight ends or one tight end or three tight ends, we are just going to try to continue to play to what we feel like our strength is at.

Q. Can you talk about some of the new wrinkles you put in?
Greg Davis: We were looking at a few things in the run game. Iowa has always been a team that could run the zone real well, the inside zone and outside zone. We have implemented a little more gap speed into the zone and the slant play. So that was an area that we wanted to look into. We are doing a few different things in the passing game in terms of route concepts and things like that. We spent a lot of time in the red zone this spring. We feel like that was an area that we had nine first and goals at three or less, we scored nine touchdowns. We had nine first and goals at the seven to the nine, and we scored five touchdowns, and that’s not good enough. We spent a lot of time, first down at the seven, eight or nine this spring working on the best possible way to get the ball in the end zone.

Q. You talked about how C.J. might differentiate himself from Jake as far as running and playing tag and that kind of thing. What keeps Jake No. 1 right now?
Greg Davis: Well, first of all, he has a great understanding of everything that’s going on. Nothing rattles him. He handles himself like a quarterback. And he could make all the throws. He’s just got more experience. And so, you know, the No. 2 quarterback is the most popular guy on any campus, or any NFL team in the country. And we are very pleased with C.J. But, we feel like at this point, Jake is definitely the guy.

Q. With the tight end group now, do you still envision yourself using more of the 13 personnel?
Greg Davis: Yeah, the 13 personnel is something that we feel like gives the defense some problems in terms of lining up where pass strength is, where run strength is. And last year, we felt very comfortable putting that personnel grouping on the field. And we have still got it and we are still using it some. And then it will kind of come in and out, depending on what you’re doing. The good thing that we could do last year, we could put 13 personnel on the field, and be an empty formation. And we felt like that was one of the things that we probably should have done more of quite honestly is to put that grouping on the field and play empty formation out of it. The more things that the tight ends can do and feel comfortable doing, the more that personnel grouping can be a part. Henry has done a really good job. Henry has great ball skills and is, you know, comfortable moving around in motion, inserting himself. George still lacks some strength. It’s an area that he has to improve on but he can stretch the field more than most tight ends in the country. So there’s a place for all of those guys to get in there.

Q. How much fullback did you use in Texas? It’s come around a lot of places the fullback is back. Did you guys use a lot of fullback?
Greg Davis: We did. We had a fullback named Ahmard Hall that may still be playing. He was with the Titans for a long time. When we first got to Texas in ’98, we had a tailback that was named Ricky Williams, you may have heard of, and so we played a lot of two backs that year. We kind of got a way from the fullback shortly after he left and then Ahmard Hall showed up and we went back, especially Vince’s first couple of years, we went back and used quite a bit. We have two fullbacks here that we are really pleased with in Adam Cox and Macon Plewa. They both catch the ball out of the backfield and they both really enjoy the role. So it will be 21 personnel will continue to be a part, and a lot of people don’t play 21 anymore, even though I do see a little more of it coming back. So, what you’d like to be able to play 21, 12, 11, you’d like and then in the course of a ballgame, there’s a place for all of them.

Q. Iowa versus Texas, the recruiting, dealing with people outside of the personnel department and athletic department, how different is it?
Greg Davis: To me the biggest challenge is purely numbers. I would venture to say that there were probably 330 Division I players signed out of the state of Texas last year; that’s not the case in the state of Iowa just because of population. So it’s very seldom that we left the state because there were just so many players. And, you know, we have to leave the state here, because even though everything starts in state in recruiting and to me that’s probably the biggest difference.

Q. You had Greg, Eric Johnson, player personnel outside of the staff itself, is it better or easier to deal with when you have one assistant coach that handles that or is it more difficult or challenging when you have more people outside or is it easier because they are handling?
Greg Davis: Every university does that a little bit differently. The way we did it there was very similar to the way we did it here. Our recruiting coordinator coached a position, went on the road, had an area. I’ve also been places where the recruiting coordinator did not have an area. So he spotted all over, and he would come back and he would say, hey, here’s quarterbacks that are worthy and make sure that you see and that’s kind of what Kirk alluded to earlier. There’s some different ways of manning those spots that he’s looking at and trying to decide what’s best for us.

Q. Looking back at the end of the season, Mark became a bit of a short yardage guy and Jordan did his thing. San you really do much in the spring to see what kind of roles these guys will have in the fall?
Greg Davis: I think any time you play live, any time you practice live and you can’t do that every day, that’s when you really get to evaluate backs as to, you know, who moved the ball from the first down; who broke the tackle in the open field; who didn’t break the tackle in the open field; who took care of the ball; you know, who stepped up on a blitz pick up. They are easier to evaluate when you’re playing live. All of our guys are basically back, other than the young guys. So there’s kind of roles that are being defined. Mark is we have found over two years that when Mark is healthy, he is really productive. We want to be conscious of the number of carries, because he’s not a guy that’s going to jump sideways very often. He’s going to attack the tackler. So as the season wears on, then his production suffers somewhat and that’s what Jordan was able to step in last year. Damond is an outstanding receiver, coming out of the backfield, does a great job in blitz. So a little more third-down specialist, if you will. LeShun Daniels is kind of a mixture, has some Mark in him, so we have been able to look at that. You know better than I that you need a bunch of backs at Iowa. So we are kind of pleased with that. Akrum Wadley is a guy that has done some really good things this spring but he’s been hurt and you know, whether or not he can get in the mix, we’ll have to see in camp along with Jonathan Parker.

Phil Parker: Good afternoon everybody, appreciate you guys coming here. Just want to tell you we are on the 13th day of practice today and basically what we are trying to get accomplished, we installed our defense thoroughly. We have not put everything in but most everything, our base stuff and a couple third down stuff. Then we are looking to evaluate our depth chart. Obviously we lost some good players that we have to replace and obviously we are trying to find out who’s who in the depth chart.

So right now it is pretty fluid at the linebacker position but I think Quinton Alston is obviously the starting Mike back and then inside up front between Carl Davis and Louis, they have done a good job, and then Drew Ott up front. The other end would be determined between Mike Hardy and I think Nate Meier has really made a push to be a guy that can play on first and second down.

Johnny is back at strong safety but there’s a fight going on there between Nico Law and him, and then Desmond King obviously came in and played as a true freshman; he’s doing well there. But we are still trying to figure out the rest of the pieces of the puzzle, and we’ve got a long ways to go right now, and hopefully the next three days, some guys can show us something that we can do and see where they are going to end up for the preseason.

Q. How is Lomax doing and what kind of prompted that switch?
Phil Parker: Well, I think Jordan is doing very well at the position. He’s feeling more comfortable. I don’t think he’s there yet, exactly what I’m looking for as a safety. He’s got to do some other things. But I think what prompted us a little bit is Desmond came back and he did a good job at corner and Jordan, you know, he was injured and I know he’s a smart kid and I know he’s a tough kid and that’s why we like to make corner as a rolled up guy. But we thought, hey, we are going to get our best guys on the field so we kind of made that adjustment, who is going to control the secondary and that’s why we did it. The free safety has to be the commander; he’s got to be a vocal guy and he’s got to be like an assistant coach on the field, and that’s what I expect out of him.

Q. Assuming that Jordan is able to hold that position down and fill that void and meet those expectations that you have, what are you going to be looking for out of the corner stop where you have Sean and Maurice fighting that right now?
Phil Parker: Well, that’s still open a little bit and like we always say, every position is all open as the guys make a lot of strides and you probably don’t have I know Draper is working very hard and so is Maurice Fleming. But there’s another guy, Greg Mabin, that’s made a lot of plays this spring and you guys probably don’t even have him on your list. But he’s a very tall, lengthy guy and he’s made a lot of plays for us and he can run. He has not had very much playing time and he has not tackled very much but he’s made some progress there. It’s going to be a challenge to figure out. Right now I couldn’t tell you who is going to be the No. 2 corner right now.

Q. The Raider package seems like it is something that is here to stay.
Phil Parker: I think it’s unique in the way we came about it. We were at Ohio State; we had trouble getting off the field on third down because we had the guys covered up, but we didn’t have anybody to catch the quarterback, and he’s a great athlete and a great player. But we came out and Northwestern had a great athlete at quarterback that can move and so we designed a package that we were going to put more linebackers and guys would go chase and catch guys. So with that, that’s been very successful for us and we just keep on adding to that package. And really alls you’re doing is taking out one or two defensive linemen and putting in some linebackers that can rush and get to the quarterback and you can play zone out of it and you can play man and you can do everything you can in your base stuff, and it just gives you better athletes on the field.

Q. Does that bump out nickel? Last year you played a low percentage of nickel.
Phil Parker: Well, everything changes with personnel, you know what I mean, and we thought that if you put nickel in the game and then you’ve got to take Kirksey out or you have to take Hitchens out and we didn’t want to do that. That’s why we created that situation and kind of limited nickel. This year it might be a little bit more nickel or maybe even nickel/Raider type of deal, so it might put a defensive back in there instead of a linebacker; so that we are still making those decisions. But right now, we are not that far along in our preparation. We still want to learn how to play first and second downs really well and see what we can do with our guys’ base fundamental stuff first.

Q. You guys kind of find out what you guys can do and then
Phil Parker: You have to adapt. I mean, the package is still going to be there. It’s just what personnel grouping is it going to be. Is it going to be four linebackers on the field or five linebackers like we had last year; or, is it going to be five DBs on the field, still have three linebackers or four linebackers on the field and two defensive linemen. So the thing that’s going to be a challenge is to see what way we are going to go.

Q. How has Quinton adjusted to the starting role at middle linebacker?
Phil Parker: I think he took a real good step in December with the bowl prep and understanding he’s going to have to be the leader coming up the next year. I thought he started in December with the bowl prep. I think he’s done a great job up to this point of being the leader and he’s kind of the guy that takes control of the huddle and demands from the guys on the field. So he’s earned that respect by what he does and how he practices and how he’s committed to understanding football. And like I say, I think a lot of it comes down to football IQ and I think he’s done a good job in that respect, and a lot of the guys respect that.

Q. What’s the breakdown of what he needs to do well and maybe needs to work on, what do you look at as barriers to work on?
Phil Parker: One thing about Nate Meier is we know he’s tough, and he was a little bit underweight last year and learning the position a little bit. And I think he’s really gotten better playing blocks. And Hardy has been out there, obviously last year as a starter, we kind of flip them around a little bit from right end to the left end and do things like that. But I think, we’ve just got to go back to the fundamentals, do what we’re having you do and I think they are both working hard at it. I think Nate put on a little bit of extra weight, is a little bit more active. It’s going to be a good battle. Our decision is not made up yet, but he’s going to have to play on first and second down, too and give a rotation right now with the three d ends and can go out there and play, and McMinn has to show up and be the fourth, or if we start putting another linebacker down and obviously third down situations.

Q. Sacks don’t equate to maybe what they used to ten years ago; how do you judge ends or what are the things you’re looking for?
Phil Parker: A lot of people used to worry about that and guys worry about how many sacks you get, how many interceptions you get, how many of this, how many of that. It only matters if you win the game and everybody looks at the stats everywhere. If you just go ahead and play the game to win, that’s the most important thing. And I’m not big on, hey, this guy has this you have a four man rush, it’s hard to get a sack and if you go ahead and substitute on third down and you don’t take one of those guys out, they are not going to get a sack sitting on the bench. So I don’t evaluate guys about sacks. I look at how well they are playing their technique, what about their effort, their toughness, how smart they are; do they come into work every day to do their job. That’s the way the program since 1999, I know that’s the way we’ve been. And I think it’s worked this far, and I think we are fundamentally we want to be fundamentally sound in what we are doing.

Q. You have five defensive backs coming in in the incoming freshman class and last year Desmond came out of nowhere do you see anybody making a leap to the depth chart?
Phil Parker: You know, right now, it would be hard for somebody to come in right now. I think we have four corners that are really battling out to figure out who is going to be the ones and twos, and so I think it would be hard to break that line up. But, by saying that, you just never know. Those guys have a ways to go. They are still not out of high school yet so I don’t count on anybody really coming in to help; even as a safety, we have Miles coming in at strong safety and it’s going to be hard we have two seniors that are right now battling a good position there. So I think it will be a challenge for somebody to come in the back end to start but you just never know with what the injuries are. I didn’t know Jordan Lomax was going to get injured so early in the year and he (King) stepped in. So I don’t know if that will happen again or not. Might happen at some other positions. Maybe there might be a linebacker that could step in or maybe there could be a third down guy that comes in like Reggie Spearman did and we didn’t know what Reggie was going to be and he really helped us out.

Q. They kind of moved in that strong role last year, was there ever any thought to playing free and Nico Law or is he primarily strong?
Phil Parker: Right now we keep him at strong. What we look at is, hey, I’m going to say, who is the best guy to go in next. If he’s the best next guy to go in, if Nico Law is the next best guy; if something happens to Lomax, then I can move to Johnny and Nico Law is the third best safety, then that’s the way I’ll move it. If Anthony Gair is the next guy in, then he goes in. So I think I’m working with four potential guys that can have a chance to play next year at safety. But you’ve really got to evaluate, you know, where is the best 11 guys you have on the field. And it kind of goes back, do you put nickel in the game or do you keep all your linebackers in the game. So we want the best 11 guys out there at all times that’s going to benefit us.

Q. Kirksey brought a lot of things that maybe didn’t get enough credit until later on, how challenging is it to replace him and the many different personal things?
Phil Parker: It’s difficult and we are going to have to change personnel groupings. He was a rare guy. Usually don’t get those types of guys here at Iowa that can close on power O off a tight end and then walk out and cover a No. 2 wide receiver man to man with no help. That’s a challenge. That’s where you have to adapt and change your personnel grouping and substitute in if you have to. But for that position, he was unique and it’s been a challenge but I’m not worrying about what we are doing right now. But in the fall, we’ll definitely make some adjustments.

Q. What have the young guys done well?
Phil Parker: I think it’s pretty good. Reggie Spearman I think has done a real good job. I think right now, you know, we have moved some other guys behind him. I think Jewell has been a guy that we moved back outside because Travis Perry is out there right now obviously, experienced guy, knows exactly what we are doing in the defense and you know, he’s been sick a little bit, so we had the opportunity to have some other guys in there.

But one of the guys, Jewell, has really showed up out there, just as a football player. He was an inside backer behind Q and Reggie, really as a backup Will. And we look at it and say, who is the guy going out and making plays. You just watch the film and you just watch the guys running around on tape and you see him tracking guys down. Somewhere, he’s going to have to fit in our system, okay, because when you give that much effort and you attack the football the way he does and make plays the way he’s done, he’s going to probably show up. Does he know everything right now? Not yet, but he still has a long way to go.

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