Kirk Ferentz News Conference Transcript


Nov. 17, 2015

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K. Ferentz News Conference Transcript Get Acrobat Reader

Kirk Ferentz: Saturday was an unbelievable crowd and a tremendous atmosphere. I’ve been here a long time and I’m not sure we’ve had a better atmosphere than that in Kinnick, so I just want to express my appreciation to the fans. Since the game, heard a lot of comments immediately afterwards through the next couple days afterwards. A lot of people were cognizant of that, and it was a lot of fun to be a part of that.

To that point, too, when our team plays, really they play for each other, and what they don’t want to do is let themselves down, let each other down, but I would include the fans in that, too. Any time you get in an environment like that or when you get on the road and our fans follow us, that brings a lot to our football team. It adds a lot to what we’re doing, and I know our players feel that way, also. They feel compelled to play their best, so we appreciate that.

Certainly was a good win. Tough football game, and typically when you’re in conference football, that’s what you have to expect, and I think that’s what we’re facing here as we move forward.

Captains this week are the same four guys: Drew Ott and Jordan Lomax on the defensive side; Austin Blythe and CJ Beathard on the offensive side. Those guys have done a great job and continue to serve as our captains. Injury-wise, we held Akrum Wadley and Ike Boettger out of the game on Saturday. They were both cleared to play. Happy that we didn’t have to play them. I think that’s probably better for them in the long run, and they’re both working forward. I think they should be in good shape to play this week if called upon. We have a couple guys nicked up like you always do coming out of a ballgame, but I’m optimistic right now that everybody has a good chance to be ready to go.

Looking forward to Saturday against Purdue. I think the biggest thing with them is that they’ve settled in a with a young quarterback who’s a very good player. He’s doing a good job, and I think you can see their team growing under his leadership. And if you look back, just last week, they played a heck of a football game against a very good Northwestern team on the road last Saturday. And you go back a couple weeks ago, they had a good victory over Nebraska.

So they’re doing a good job, and we certainly expect their best effort. It gets back to our preparation, being ready to go.

As far as our football team, we’re excited about the opportunity in front of us. Having an opportunity to go 7-0 in the Big Ten, which would be significant, 7-0 in Kinnick, which has only been done once before, that’s important. And then the other thing is a chance to grab a share of the West Division title, which to me those are tangible things that are out there for us, and that’s really what we’re focused on. But as much as anything right now, it’s an opportunity to send our seniors off in a good fashion, and this has been a great class.

We’ve got 21 outstanding young people in this class, and going back to January when they became our senior class, they’ve done a great job of serving as role models for each and every guy on our football team.

It’s interesting, like every senior class that you have a lot of different individual stories. You’ve got guys like Austin Blythe, Tevaun Smith that have played; Drew Ott played pretty much four years. You’ve got other guys like Bud Spears, Eric Simmons, Andrew Stone that haven’t started a ballgame, but the comparison there is that all those guys are just doing a great job. They work hard every day. They do things right, and to me they serve as great role models.

And then beyond that, and you go through a litany of guys that have had injuries, guys like obviously Drew Ott, you think about Darian Cooper who’s not really been able to play and finish his career like he would hope, Jordan Canzeri, who has been able to return, Jake Duzey who is still in the process of returning. That’s part of the journey that these guys go through. But the bottom line is they’ve done a great job. They’re a special group of guys. They’ve been a major part of us winning 25 games over the last three years. They’ve done a great job academically and citizenship-wise, so I don’t know what else we could ask for as coaches. Really excited for them.

I know our opponent is not too interested in any of the stuff I just talked about, but it is important for us. On that front it gets back to our preparation. We have to do a great job of getting ready this week and then showing up at 11 ready to go.

And then last thing is just hopefully we’ll have a great crowd to send off an outstanding group of seniors. It would be a really fitting way to say goodbye to them. They’ve worked extremely hard on behalf of the program and looking forward to that.

Q. Would you say that CJ’s ability to check at the line of scrimmage is maybe an area where he’s shown the most growth this season?
Kirk Ferentz: I think that’s part of it, certainly. I think it’s just his total control and command, and interestingly enough, not that I want to talk much about this, but we’re going back through our cut-ups from last year, and he played in the Purdue ballgame and dished up a pick-six fairly early in the game.

He’s really done a good job protecting the football, which is paramount when you’re a quarterback, but yeah, part of playing quarterback here is getting us out of bad plays, plays that aren’t going to have a good outcome, and then if you can get us into a play that’s going to be good, that’s even better. I think he’s really done a nice job of that all season long and seems to be improving like all of his game each and every week.

Q. Can you talk about LeVar Woods; first year coaching tight ends, and they seem to come up with plays everywhere.
Kirk Ferentz: We kind of got out of balance staff-wise when Norm’s health was an issue there, and the thing about LeVar, he was a tremendous player here for us, did a great job working as a support staff member for us for several years. Really demonstrated to all of us just how serious he was about this.

So for him to join the team, the coaching team, has been great. It must mean I’m getting older because we’ve got two former players on our staff now, but I think that’s all great. He’s doing a really nice job. He made the transition in January.

Brings a good perspective into that offensive room, too, because he’s seen it through eyes of the defensive coaches, and that’s really, I think, been helpful for everybody, but he’s done a great job with those guys. It’s an outstanding group of players. They’re just really good people, working hard with our veteran guys like Henry and Jake or a guy like Jameer Outsey, who moved over from defense during the course of the summer, and has done some really good things, too. I think it’s a real tribute to LeVar’s coaching.

Q. Reese Morgan talked about competitive spirit and drive in Josey Jewell last spring, is that a big part of his success?
Kirk Ferentz: Absolutely. To me it starts with his effort and commitment to being a very good football player. To me if you — in a nutshell if you want to see Josey Jewell, turn on the second half of the bowl game, because that wasn’t much fun. We were all there. It wasn’t much fun to be involved in that thing. What do you play for at that point, and you’re playing for pride, and if there’s one guy on our defense that stood out, it was Josey Jewell. He was sprinting across the field. I have no idea how fast he is, but I’ll tell you, he tries to get to the ball fast, and when he gets there, he has the defensive attitude you want. So to me, that’s kind of like the first thought I have about Josey when I think about Josey performing.

He’s right in the middle of things. Being a middle linebacker is a key position. It’s a leadership position just like playing free safety or center or quarterback, and he’s doing a great job at that.

Q. What we saw of LeShun Daniels last weekend, is that the back you envisioned having back in August?
Kirk Ferentz: I think so. That’s why we named him starter. He’s really done a good job. He’s a good football player and a great kid. The way things unfolded maybe we can get to the point where we’ll have them all at once. But Jordan has really done a great job, Akrum did a great job when he was called upon and if he’s healthy we’re confident that he can play well, and then Derrick Mitchell has done a really good job as our 3rd down back, not just touching the football but blocking also. He had critical block the other night.

The one thing I’d say about that whole group that’s been the most impressive to me is just the way they’ve picked each other up, so if somebody goes down, the next guy grabs the rope and does a great job with it.

We’re really pleased with the entire group, but that’s as good as LeShun’s looked since he’s been here.

Q. Are you surprised given the 10-0 start that there’s still 8,000 tickets left?
Kirk Ferentz: I don’t really give it much thought. It’s kind of out of my realm of expertise. But we’ve got great fans. I’ve said that a long time, forever basically, since ’81, and my experience is if we play well on the field, our fans will be there. That’s how I look at it.

Q. Talk about Jordan Canzeri and the year he’s had…
Kirk Ferentz: It’s tough for everybody, every player, and then the first thing I think about with Jordan is he’s had some injuries he’s had to deal with, and that’s the most frustrating — I say it all the time, but it is the most frustrating thing and difficult thing for an athlete to have to go through and certainly for a coach, as well.

From a coaching standpoint it’s hard because I know firsthand how hard these guys work day in and day out year-round for however many years they’ve been here, in his case five, and he had a major knee injury to deal with and he came back like a champ from that thing back in 2012 to the point where we were tempted to put him in there at the end, and just didn’t think that would be fair to him.

And then most recently, coming off this ankle the way he has. You know, because he wants to be out there. All the seniors — more than anybody, they want to be out there. But it’s reality. It’s part of what we do and part of what athletes have to go through. But if there’s any good news in that, I think you learn some really good life lessons as a player when you go through those experiences and see the world through maybe a little different perspective, so if there’s a positive in there, I think that’s what it is.

Jordan is an outstanding young person, a great leader, and just he’s really played well for us when he’s been healthy and able to.

Q. Is there a senior that you’re like, holy crap, that guy is still here, and then holy crap, I’m glad he’s still here?
Kirk Ferentz: It seems like it’s always the other team. Who just most recently — one guy was a junior, I thought he was like fifth or eighth year. But no, it ends too quickly with all of them quite frankly. But that’s part of what we do, and if you coach in high school it’s the same thing. I think those are the two hardest things about coaching at the collegiate or high school level. It’s always bittersweet. You’re happy for them because you know what they’ve done, you know the work that they’ve put in, and you’re excited for them about the opportunities that are going to come down the road for them, and when you have guys like Tony Moeaki come back, and he’s single but the guys that are married with kids, and all those kinds of things, that’s fun. High school coaches go through that same thing. NFL didn’t have to used to go through it, now they do with the salary cap. They’re going through the same thing. But it’s not quite the same connection.

Q. It sounds like this group has taken it upon itself to start meeting Monday nights, and they kind of come out with a game plan, at least for how to handle themselves and how to present themselves to the rest of the younger guys for the week. Is that a new thing?
Kirk Ferentz: They’ve done some of that. I don’t know if it’s weekly, but they get together and visit a little bit. It’s a positive. The best kind of leadership is driven from within. It always has been. We’ve got guys that have bought in, certainly, and they’ve taken not only taken it upon themselves but embraced the responsibility of being older and being guys that are respected by the football team. They’ve really taken initiative. I don’t know how good we are as a football team, but two things — these guys play hard and they’re together. They’re together, and that togetherness starts with leadership. The best kind of leadership is from your own players.

Q. You used to say that the 2002 team, you guys wouldn’t even have to be out there, they’d just go out and practice —
Kirk Ferentz: We aren’t quite there, and that was the last week of that team, the Minnesota game that year. But yeah, by the end of the week, if we hadn’t gone out, they were not going to let that pass by, I mean, that opportunity. There was no question in my mind they were where they needed to be. But we’re not quite there yet but we’re getting strong leadership.

Q. When it comes to some of those flashier stats, Iowa really doesn’t pop off the page, but when you’re talking about culture, how much does locker room culture outweigh stats?
Kirk Ferentz: To me it’s about winning the game in front of you, the game that’s presented to you, the one that you’re going to compete in. That’s the most important stat there is. There are a lot of things we look at that are important, turnover-takeaway ratio, might not be flashy or sexy, but it’s really critical to success, again, unless you’ve got the best players, then you can overcome being sloppy and all that kind of thing. But that’s a big one.

There are a lot of things that are important. I don’t know how flashy we are. Steve told me the other day this is the first time we’ve scored 30 or more points in four straight games in Big Ten play, and we were 29 points the game before that, so to me that’s a pretty significant accomplishment.

I had no idea it took place. To me we’re just kind of letting the season unfold and what have you, but the most important stat is winning games. That’s ultimately the one that gets judged the most critically, and it’s the goal we have every week.

That’s kind of what we’ve been focused on, and that’s what we’ll hopefully be focused on this week and the week after.

Q. Senior day is always special, but can you talk about what it means to have so much on the line for these seniors to have a chance to send them out high?
Kirk Ferentz: I don’t know how much is on the line other than it’s an opportunity. That’s what we’re looking at. If we could grab one more here, that’s kind of been our goal every week, let’s see if we can win another game this weekend. Let’s try to keep it within a seven-day bound — it’s actually six days, I guess, seven days if you start Sunday afternoon. We’re trying to keep it as simple as that, not think much bigger than that or beyond that. That’s to me when tightness sets in and all those kinds of things.

So it’s about us trying to beat the team in front of us, and really ultimately it’s about us playing our best football, and if we’re good enough, we’re good enough, and if we’re not, we’re not, but that’s really all we can try to do.

But there will be emotion, there’s no question. There is every time, and I’ve been out there as a coach for 26 years and I’ve been out there as a parent twice, and that compounds it a little bit.

There’s a lot of emotion, but those emotions only last so long. I think then it gets into what the substance of the whole thing is all about.

Q. Have you had any impulse to tell the outside world that you’ve known what you’ve been doing all along, or is it something that genuinely —
Kirk Ferentz: You’re assuming that I believe that. You’re making an assumption on that one. That’s a daily question I ask myself. I’ve had way too many times where you come in and say, geez, are they hearing anything that we’re saying.

Q. I’m not talking about to the outside world. I haven’t heard, publicly at least, anything from you or your staff saying, we knew what we were doing all along. Do you have any impulse to do that or is it something that never enters your mind?
Kirk Ferentz: It’s kind of like players. The best thing you can do is try to perform as well as you can.

Growing up watching the players — I’m not comparing myself to a great player or coaching to any great players, but great players don’t have to say much, and to me the greatest ones, they don’t say a hell of a lot. Muhammad Ali might be an exception to that rule. But to me it’s all about what you do. It’s like we tell our players, your actions speak a lot louder than your words. I guess I’ve always felt like it’s more about what it is you do and your actions.

Not to minimize results, and I’ll go back to last year because I guess it fits right here, it’s not so much about results but it’s about the way you’re doing things, and my illustration there would be our ’13 team versus ’14 team, one game difference in terms of wins, but if you really look at that ’13 team, that team maxed out in my opinion. That’s an opinion; I’m not claiming it to be a fact. Look at the teams that we lost to, where they went, Northern Illinois played in the Orange Bowl I’m pretty sure that year. We lost to really good teams and we didn’t embarrass ourselves. That’s one way to look at it.

Last year we left opportunity on the table, and I’ve mentioned that many times. That’s one thing we’re doing a better job of this year is taking what’s out there and trying to maximize it.

You know, to that point, I guess we’re more focused on just trying to get our players to play as well as they can and then we’ll live with the results. It’s kind of the same way with our evaluations. I mean, you can look at a situation any way you choose to. Anybody, I’m not saying you specifically, but anybody can look at it, and the mindset that they bring to the equation probably has something to do with that. But yeah, we can’t worry about that. We’ve got to try to worry about doing our best teaching and coaching every day.

Q. If you look at Henry Krieger Coble, you recruited him from Mount Pleasant, from a big family obviously. Did you go to a basketball game and watch him play?
Kirk Ferentz: I got to see him play basketball once, and I think — I haven’t asked Henry this in quite a while, but I think probably his favorite sport was baseball. He really liked baseball and was good at it. The first thing that comes to mind when I think about that is Micah Hyde, another guy that really liked baseball and played pretty well. To this day I think Micah would have set a lot of records had we played him at receiver. I don’t think he would be playing in the NFL today, but I think he would have set a lot of receiving records at Iowa, and then where I’m going on this whole thing, he’s got great ball skills and it shows up in what he does up in Green Bay.

And when you think about Henry, Henry is not necessarily, quote-unquote, a combine guy. He’s not going to run a 4.5 or a 4.6, but I’ll tell you he’s a heck of a football player. He blocks well. I don’t know if we’ve had anybody run routes any better than Henry does as a tight end.

Maybe Tony and Dallas. It’s a tough group to be evaluated against, but my point is he’s really good at that, and the catches he’s made, I wish you guys could see the ones he makes in practice. It’s unbelievable. He’s a really good football player that is flying so far underneath the radar, it’s amazing. But he’s playing his best football, and tie that in with our senior class, all these guys are playing their best football. It’s one of the reasons we’re doing well right now.

Q. When you talk about hand-eye coordination, do you think that maybe plays into it?
Kirk Ferentz: Yeah, that’s my point. Those guys are both three-sport athletes, and there are a lot of young people that don’t do that anymore. There are a lot of older people, parent type people, that don’t think that’s a good idea. They’re steering their kids to one sport, which is so unfortunate. That’s one person’s opinion, again, but I’m a parent. I can talk as a parent. It’s just short-sighted.

But there’s a reason why Henry has good ball skills. He went out and played. He went out and did stuff with balls, baseball, basketball, football and I think that’s a big part of his success. He wasn’t the biggest guy coming out of high school. He was not a mega-recruit or any of that stuff, but I’d put him up against anybody in the country. There’s a lot of really good tight ends out there, but he’s playing really at a high level right now.

Q. How did you get LeShun out of the Ohio State living room?
Kirk Ferentz: It was easy, they didn’t offer him. It was simple. I think that helped.

Q. Obviously he had a brother. Do you have any stories dealing with LeShun Sr., and how did LeShun escape being an offensive lineman?
Kirk Ferentz: Well, LeShun is too fast, first of all, to be a lineman. But mom and dad are just tremendous people, and we’ve got two of the sons here, and they are both — they’re different as players, but they’re the same as people. They’re just tremendous young guys, both excellent students. They’re everything you want in a student-athlete quite frankly, and a lot of that — like most of the great players we’ve had that are great kids, most of our great players have been outstanding people. It starts at home. We’d love to take credit for it, but it starts at home.

Q. Ike is back on the depth chart. He’s listed at No. 2, but if he’s good is he back on the 1 line or is he too far behind?
Kirk Ferentz: It’s kind of like our running backs. I mean, Ike was really playing well, now Cole has jumped in there and done a great job. Cole has played more snaps than any of our three tackles which caught me by surprise a little bit when I looked at the numbers on Sunday. But it’s a really healthy situation, not a play on words. Ike is still working his way back. I don’t know if he’s 100 percent right now.

He’s not quite there right now. When he is there, we’ll have a great, great situation. We’ll rotate the guys. I’m fine with that, just like we’ll rotate backs. They’ve proven they can play and play well against anybody, so yeah, really happy about that.

Q. A guy like Falconer jumping on there, too, is that just a reward for what he’s done in practice?
Kirk Ferentz: It’s really probably an omission on my part for the last five (weeks) — I’m not the best detail guy on depth charts, I’m sorry about that. But he’s kind of been working in the rotation, so I was like, geez, probably put his name in there. He’s doing a good job.

Q. Are you surprised how consistent your offensive line has been with injuries and everything?
Kirk Ferentz: Yeah, they’re doing a pretty good job, they really are. To that point, we had no depth in April, zero. In fact, I wasn’t sure we had five starters. Then in August we started gaining some traction. But you never know how it’s going to go. If you had told me in August that we were going to be playing in Chicago in October with the group that we had in the positions they had, I might have been a little concerned about that. But it’s just — I think that was probably the pinnacle for our whole team — we had a lot of moving parts that day and the guys played. As I said, somewhere in the last couple weeks, the only good news out of this whole stuff is when we start getting guys back, now we’ve got a stronger, deeper team than we had at the start of the season. It’s really been good to see that unfold, and it’s a credit to the players. They’ve been really positive. They’ve been flexible with their thinking, and you know, just like the backs, whoever can help out, they jump in there and do a good job with it.

Q. The blocking of receivers and running backs seems to be part of this whole running game success, too.
Kirk Ferentz: It has. We were not a good team on the perimeter either side in the run game in particular last year. And I think we’ve improved a lot, both sides. But it was on our list of things that we’ve got to get better at if we’re going to win football games consistently, and if you want to run the football, the quarterback has got to have you in the right play or get you out of the wrong play, then we’ve got to block interiorly. You know, the tight ends are a big part of that, our fullbacks, getting Macon back healthy and having Adam back with us is a big plus for us, and the guys outside are all blocking really well, each and every one of them. So it’s a real team effort, and on top of it, the backs are doing a great job, too. Hopefully we can continue that.

Q. Are you conscious of the pitch counts for some of your defensive players? There’s not a lot of substitutions going on there.
Kirk Ferentz: Yes and no. Yes, I’m aware of it. We keep an eye on everything, all the stats that way. But on the other side we’ve only got like, whatever it is, 10 days left, so suck it up. Suck it up. We’ll rest later on. I don’t believe in pitch counts. I told you that earlier. I think that’s all bull crap. And Bert Blyleven would back me up on that. I think I heard him on the radio one time talking about that.

Q. Are you really done with the QB sneak, with 14 for 14?
Kirk Ferentz: Let me think about it. CJ did point that out to me afterwards, just two in two years.

Q. What’s the No. 1 attribute of a position group like the running backs to be able to rotate like they are?
Kirk Ferentz: They’ve got to be unselfish and they’ve got to be committed to the team and see the big picture. That’s easy to talk about like a lot of things that are integral to winning are easy to talk about. It starts with Jordan; he’s the senior in the group, and there’s not a more unselfish, giving-type player. I don’t track the community service hours individually. I know he does a lot of different things. He’s involved in a lot of different areas.

It’s just kind of how he’s wired, and you know, that carries right over to the plan. I think he sets the tempo there, and I think they’re all sharing the same goals, all of us. We just want to win no matter what group it may be or what individual it may be, and that’s the fun part about team football. If one game — last time out there, the offense really had it going and we gave up more big plays than we care to defensively, but we started out the Big Ten schedule with a 10-6 game I believe it was. It was all about the defense that day.

That’s the beauty of football, and that’s the beauty of a team sport, I think. To me that’s true teamwork is when one group might be struggling a little bit, the other group compensates for it. When you get that going, that’s really a good thing, whether it’s positionally or offense, defense, special teams. Doesn’t matter how you get there, the idea is to get there. That’s the whole deal.

Q. The running backs have kind of been by committee. When you look at CJ week in and week out, battling through some injuries, what’s his presence mean on the field and what does he mean to this offense and team?
Kirk Ferentz: Well, you can’t beat his record to start with. He’s really done a good job there. All the things I just said about Jordan Canzeri, I can say the same thing about CJ, the kind of person he is, individually he is. I think he’s really proven he’s a very tough-minded guy. That’s important. The quarterback is a leadership position. It’s a very unique position. If you don’t have a hard-minded, tough guy there, it’s tough to be any good, and I don’t care if you’re a throwing team, option, whatever it is you do, to me it all starts there.

He’s done a great job of that, and as I said earlier in the season, those are things you really can’t evaluate in practice because we don’t let our quarterbacks get hit. I think that would be silly. I never saw any value in that. So we find out when they get there on the game field and then you really find out about a guy’s poise, too, and I think he’s demonstrated that to the nth degree. He’s just done a great job.

Q. You have a chance to pull out a championship trophy Saturday, but you also have some work left to do in the season. How do you reconcile the plans for that?
Kirk Ferentz: We’ve talked really openly about it this week, and it’s mathematical. I mean, if we win, then we’re in, I guess, right? Not to get cute, but that’s the way it is. That’s a really good thing, and that would mean we’re 11-0 and that would mean we’re 7-0, and boy, that would be great, but we’re not done yet, so we’ll acknowledge that privately, and we’re going to have to move fast towards that next game because it’s going to come quick for us. They’ve already got their sights on it, so we’re going to have some time to make up for it.

Q. In the game against Minnesota, Leidner was able to move the ball down the field very quickly. LeShun’s touchdown there —
Kirk Ferentz: Yeah, I noticed that. Really quickly, yeah.

Q. And playing against pretty explosive offenses, Purdue put 55 up on Nebraska, then you have Nebraska with Tommy Armstrong back-to-back. Is there a level of concern, or is it just they let their guard down on one drive?
Kirk Ferentz: We’re concerned every week. Every time you go out there, no matter who you’re playing, everybody you play practices. They’ve got good players, and Purdue is no different. Yeah, we’re going to have to be ready to go. So I was talking about, there’s ebb and flow in football, 10-6 one time and then 45-30 the next. That’s just kind of how college football is. It’s hard to predict, but all we can do is try to work on the things we didn’t do well. I’m really kind of more focused on the three big plays that we gave up. There are three plays in my mind we have to do a better job of. That was a little bit of a flashback to the UNI game in some ways a year ago, and you’re not going to win consistently doing that.

Probably my focus, my focal point would be more on those big plays because you have to make people earn it, but to your point, that was less than a minute, and that ain’t gonna cut it, so we’ve got to do better there. And we’re working on that, I can assure you that.

Q. Does it concern you at all that you’ve gone this entire time without taking a question about Purdue, because they’ve played two top-25 teams pretty tough on the road this year?
Kirk Ferentz: That has not escaped my attention, and when I get with our team, we’re talking about Purdue, all about that. Just to your point, yeah, playing Michigan State, these guys are playing hard, and they played extremely hard last week. All you have to do is look back there. I’ll go one further on that. Nebraska had their way with them real easily for two games back-to-back, not so much this year. So again, that’s just how it is. Week to week you just never know If you’re looking backwards instead of forwards, pretty soon you’re going to be going down, and I don’t think we’re going to be guilty of that, but if we do, shame on us, that’s for sure.

Q. Is Duzey still recovering?
Kirk Ferentz: Yeah, he is. It’s kind of like Ike, only he was gone a little bit more significant amount of time and he missed a lot of good playing time that he would have gotten, but he’s looking better each and every week. I’m not going to put a snap count on it how many times he’ll get in there, but I think all of us have more confidence, most importantly he has more confidence, and that’s part of coming off an injury, and his was a little bit more than a sprained ankle. When you come off an injury as a player you’ve got to develop, hey, I can do this again, that feeling, and I think he’s getting closer. He’s done some good things the last two weeks in practice, which hopefully will make him feel a little bit more confident.

Q. Markell Jones, their running back, a true freshman, seems to get better as the game goes on. I think yards per carry goes up by two in the second half. He got hurt but I guess he’s going to play. What do you see out of him?
Kirk Ferentz: He’s a good player. We liked him in recruiting. I believe he was an early entry there last January, so he’s doing a really nice job for them, just under six a carry. He’s a good player. They’ve got good receivers. They’ve got a good quarterback. They’ve got a good running back, big line. We’re going to have to line up and go to work, and we’re not taking anything for granted, I can assure you of that.

I know the conversation today hasn’t been on Purdue. Our conversations have been strictly on Purdue, and we’ve got a lot of respect for them and respect for their coaching staff.

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