April 26, 2014
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa football team concluded its spring practices Saturday afternoon with the annual Spring Scrimmage. A crowd of 20,400 witnessed the offense defeat the defense by a score of 46-31. The event featured a unique scoring system which awarded the offense and defense points for a variety of plays. Members of the team and head coach Kirk Ferentz met with media following the scrimmage.
Q. Thoughts on the team this spring and where you need to make progress between now and next season?
RUDOCK: In regards to progress, we need to keep on improving, as simple and as basic as that sounds. You aren’t going to have perfect days every time. Sometimes it will be a little tough but our term is `keep sawing the wood’. You have to keep working at it and eventually you will start getting some plays, start getting more than two yards a pop. You might get an explosive play here and there, but you have to keep working and not give in.
Q. (Derrick) Willies looks like a kid that can be on the field next year, and not just a flash in the pan. Talk about you having more receivers to throw to it looks like overall.
RUDOCK: I thought Derrick had a good day and he’s showing that he can play football. He showed that this spring but a lot of different receivers have been stepping up this spring which is very important. Sometimes they get tired because they are running deep routes and they will be gassed so it’s good to get other guys that can come in and not miss a beat.
Q. Talk about C.J. (Beathard) and the competition with him and how it will make both of you better.
RUDOCK: I think he had a good day today. He had a good spring and the biggest thing is making the team better. That is all that is on my mind right now. However we can make the team better because that is the most important thing. If the team can improve overall, then hopefully we will be able to get more wins.
Q. Talk about this spring and how the team has improved.
SCHERFF: I think we made strides. We had three good practices to end spring ball but we are not done yet. We have to finish May with two or three weeks of strong strength and conditioning and then we will have the summer where we will work on speed and conditioning before moving into the fall.
Q. Coaches talked the last couple of weeks about the experience, not necessarily on the offensive line and being the positions that they are in now, but do you sense that experience throughout the entire unit.
SCHERFF: Yeah, we have quite a few returning starters on the offense and defense. It should be the seniors that take the leadership role, like the seniors did last year. James Morris, Anthony Hitchens, Christian Kirksey, Brett Van Sloten, they all did a heck of a job for us, and that is what helped us last year. We need to put that upon ourselves this year to move forward.
Q. Jake Rudock talked about how you guys are excited to run the ball down the field a little bit with having four or five running backs. Ever since you have been here you have only had one or two guys, now it seems like there will always be a healthy running back ready to go.
SCHERFF: That’s our goal. We want to be the most physical unit on the field and want to be able to run the ball against people’s will, and that is what we are going to work for in the summer. We are going to get stronger and faster and try to learn the offense more so we can play faster.
Q. Talk about embracing the leadership role and how you have to become the vocal and spiritual leader of the defensive unit.
ALSTON: It’s a great thing. It strokes your ego to be that guy that everybody looks up to, especially when you have a lot of freshman and redshirt freshman playing. I just want to keep helping them in their progression as football players, as men and as students in the community. It feels great to be a big part of their lives.
Q. What did you like from the defensive unit today?
ALSTON: The energy, stopping the run. We had a couple of plays leak out. We really haven’t had a whole lot of run plays that have leaked out this spring. There will always be mistakes and that’s why we have practice. We’re not game ready by any means, but I like the effort and the willingness to get better today.
Q. What’s it like for you and Carl Davis to be considered as one of the best tackle duos in the Big Ten?
TRINCA-PASAT: It’s nice, but at the same time we have to go out and do our job. People love to talk, and we need to go out and prove ourselves. That’s the most important thing.
Q. What has Coach Morgan been like for you?
TRINCA-PASAT: He’s a great coach. There is nothing else I can say. He constantly works and he never lets us be complacent. Basically nothing is ever good, which I like. I like to feed off of that because I’m a perfectionist. When nothing is ever good, I am constantly trying to get better. He’s doing a great job of coaching us.
Welcome. I got a chance to walk through the facility last week and that was really exciting to see the progress and the way things are taking shape. Regarding today, I wanted to thank our fans. It was a really nice turnout with a lot of good energy out there. All of us appreciate that, the players, coaches and everyone else involved. I think for the most part it was a pretty good day. First of all, nobody got hurt and secondly, I think we only counted one quarterback-center exchange, which is not bad for a spring game. I think the whole team made progress and improved over the course of the spring, which is what every coach is looking for. We had our ups and downs this spring, but I think overall the attitude has been really good. The guys are trying to get something accomplished, and I think we are. We’re improving, but we’re hardly ready to play. I think we’ve at least taken care of this phase and we can now turn our sights to the next step.
Q. There has been a lot of buzz about your backup quarterback (CJ Beathard) lately, did he make a statement today?
FERENTZ: Not really to us. He’s really been doing a good job and it’s a world of difference in that regard for both he and Jake (Rudock). A year ago they were both competing for a starting job where neither one had played in a game. It’s just a world of difference right now. Both guys have played some meaningful snaps out there and both done some really good things on the game field. The quarterback is a prominent position. They’ve got a lot more on their shoulders than a lot of people, but the confidence level that both of them have now compared to a year ago is great. I’m really pleased with both guys and it’s been a good, healthy competition. We are very fortunate to have two quarterbacks that we are very confident in.
Q. Greg (Davis), this week, talked about potentially getting series in games for CJ. Is that something that is just on the board, or is that something that is actually going to happen?
FERENTZ: It was on the board coming out of the recruiting phase. After watching this spring, I think it is something that is very realistic because they both do some things well. Jake has really elevated his performance, and I think he is a better player now than he was in January. It’s a good thing, and when you have two players that you have a lot of confidence in, it makes sense to play them in the game. The tricky part is that with quarterbacks it’s a little bit different. I think it’s realistic and certainly something we’re going to talk about once we get back together in June.
Q. The offense had a handful of explosive plays. Talk about being able to see that out of the offense.
FERENTZ: Probably a big difference from two years ago, certainly. I think two areas we made strides in, very clearly, would be the defensive line and the wide receiver position from two years ago. We’re losing a very good tight end in C.J. Fiedorowicz, and that will be documented here about three weeks from now and in the years to come. He will have a very good career in the NFL, but I think we have a group of guys right now that can absorb that loss. If you look back two years ago, throwing the football and where our defensive line was, it was a little bit different. Clearly we had a better defensive line last year and I think we have the potential to take another step with the receivers certainly. I think Tevaun (Smith) really came of age last year and made one of the biggest plays of the season last year against Michigan and Kevonte continues to grow and improve and he is a really good player. Jake Hillyer did some good things this spring and you can go right down the list. Obviously Willies, today was his best day. Now we have to try and corral him because he will be the spring game sensation, but he really did some good things today. He made as nice of a play as I saw with the play he made right on our sideline for a first down conversion. It was really a nice grab. He kept his foot in and that kind of thing. But we are growing and improving and that’s one thing I am really happy about right now.
Q. In your secondary you have (Jordan) Lomax in a new position. How is that going?
FERENTZ: I think Jordan is going to be just fine. It’s ironic because he had a missed tackle today, and that’s one thing about him, he’ll come up and tackle you. But he had one today. I think he is more comfortable now after 15 days being the quarterback back there. I think we have good competition at the corner position with three guys competing for that one spot and it’s a dead heat. I think a lot of our positions right now won’t get decided until well into August camp. We will see how guys improve, but it is a good group of young guys. We clearly have work to do, but we like the potentials there.
Q. At free safety and middle linebacker you have two new guys, but they are both academic guys. Quinton Alston was an Academic All-Big Ten. How does that help you transfer them, not only athletically, but also in their classes?
FERENTZ: Quinton is not a returning starter, but he feels like it. He is a senior, four-year guy like the three guys we just graduated, but it feels like he has been our middle linebacker. Obviously he hasn’t, but if circumstances would have caused it a year ago, where James would have moved or if James wasn’t in the game, Quinton would have been in there playing. He was in there a lot, playing on third down. He is just so respected by everybody on the team and involved with the program. He just does stuff right, and is a guy we have great faith in, so he’s really comfortable out there making calls, making checks. I don’t see that one being a huge transition. That being said, he is not James Morris, but he has his own identity and I think he is going to be a very good football player. There is a comfort level there with all of us with him.