Hawkeye Fan Shop — A Black & Gold Store | 24 Hawkeyes to Watch 2016-17 | Hawk Talk Monthly — Oct. 2016
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: To start out, good afternoon to everybody. I think we’ve had a productive bye week. We’re three days into it and so far so good.
Start out, just looking backwards, two things from the last week’s game that I got a chance to read about, since we’re not working at night right now, got to read the papers nightly. One was the penalty situation or the timeout that we took. I think most of you probably observed that there would have been a penalty. The clock was down. So fortunate the official heard us request a time out, he gave it to us, and kept us from getting a delay of game penalty in that situation.
The other one was the fourth-and-five at the 20. So, two ways to look at that thing real quickly, and our discussion during that whole process was this, first of all you’ve got the challenge of converting, you’ve got a fourth-and-five situation, not easy against those guys, especially down in the red zone. And you’ve got to score and then you’ve got to go for two points. There are three things that had to take place for us to tie the ballgame. Two ways to play it, we played it the other way. You could have played it the other. And there’s really no way to know. If you were successful either way then it’s the right answer. If you’re not successful then it’s the wrong answer. We’ll wait and see.
We work with an analytics company and we meet on Thursdays, spend a significant amount of time every Thursday on those situations. Not only ours, but nationally, and be curious to see what their feedback is.
But that’s what we chose to do at that time, and I don’t regret that decision at all, it’s certainly the key to the game. All that being said, there’s two ways to win, you score more points, which means 18 the other day or else we’ve got to give up less, which would have been less than nine, obviously. That’s what it gets down to. We lost to a good football team.
Moving on to this week, our whole goal is to recharge a little bit yet still move forward and a couple of different levels of things going on. Some of the players we tried to rest a little bit and limit their activity. Other guys with a lower pitch count we work them harder, and see if we couldn’t push them forward to find some guys to maybe help add to the cause moving forward. Time to have some scouts and also those types of things.
As we move forward the goal is pretty simple, we need to come up with a better plan. We’ve got to play better. Those are the two things that are paramount which gets down to improvement.
Another topic, recruiting-wise, there’s been a lot written here recently and all that type of thing. Couple thoughts on that, we’ll hit some schools. We’ll hit some games this weekend, next couple of days it will be part of what we’re doing.
And one comment I would make is that you can’t lose something you never had. That’s one thing I’ll always believed and certainly it’s true in recruiting. You go back to the recruits, and prospects have all the rights and we really have none. That’s really the way it is, and that’s really the way it should be.
So until there is an early signing date you’re going to see activity with commitment, all this type of thing, it hardly comes as a surprise to us. Quite frankly, that’s why some schools are opposed to early signing for that very reason, just so there’s a chance to have that type of activity.
All that being said we have a way we like to operate, the way we think is proper. And ultimately what we try to do is encourage recruits to early commit to us, to make sure that they really mean it, that’s what they fully intend to do. And then if they do that, that’s fine. But otherwise we encourage them to keep looking around. And whenever they come to the decision they want to come to Iowa, we’re certainly happy to accept that.
The bottom line is it’s a very fluid process, always has been. And the only time to get excited about the way recruiting goes is in February, once you have your class committed. And we’ve seen plenty of examples of that, as well. It’s probably more important to be ranked in January in football than it is in February, although there is a correlation to some degree. But every school is a little bit different.
The last thing, November is approaching, certainly. We have four games left in our schedule. It’s a four game season for us right now. And I’ve got to tell you I’ve seen a lot of improvement from our football team in various ways over the last three weeks, and right now the challenge for us is to pull together here starting Sunday, come back and start moving forward and see what we can do to find ways to be successful in each of the four ballgames in front of us.
That’s where our focus is right now. Encourage our guys to take some time, recharge a little bit, we still have meetings to go through. But we want them to come in Sunday ready to work, and we’ll set our sights on the next opponent when we get it. All in all it’s been a good three days, four days since Saturday, and hopefully we’ll continue to push forward.
Q. How long had you considered the analytics company?
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: We actually listened to a presentation last spring and thought it was really beneficial. It’s really affordable, which is interesting. I’m sure you could spend as much or as little, but basically the company came in and presented it to us. We were really impressed with them. And it really has been beneficial. It’s probably my least favorite meeting of the week, quite frankly, they usually last 30, 45 minutes, and we’ll review anywhere from six to 12, 15 cases from the weekend prior. You look at all the different ways to look at situations.
It’s fascinating about sports, fascinating about football and really in the NFL you do football 24 hours a day, there is no recruiting, no academic responsibility. No matter how much time you spend there’s always something to look at. This meeting has smoke coming out of your ears coming out of it. There’s two ways to look at everything probably. We had a lot of discussion Saturday prior to that situation.
Q. Can you talk about the clock management situation?
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: There are several of things, going for two, all those kind of things, when do you do it, how to bleed the clock at the end of the day, et cetera. A lot of them are situations like we were in the other day. Not necessarily all two minute, but critical situations in the game, critical decisions you have to make. And the thought process that ought to go into it. You have to transfer those things to your given situation, your given team, all those kinds of things. It’s been really good, really thought provoking, and something I’m glad we took the time to invest in.
Q. Is this your first experience with analytics?
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: In years past, and I’ve coached for quite a while, in years past you never spent so much time thinking about it. You do more so in the outer season. But these are current examples usually from the week before. It’s amazing how many things come up during the course of just one Saturday. It’s just continual — it’s a way to stay sharp, really hone your skills a little bit, everything is open to interpretation, but it promotes great discussion, great banter back and forth. And then usually try to turn it to one of the situations, how would we look at it based on our football team.
Q. Do you have any documentation with you on game day?
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: Not on the sideline, but we have a book upstairs.
Q. Do you look at that quite a bit during the game?
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: It’s more a reminder, more for reference. You only have so much time to make decisions. It could have been very different. Certainly a play earlier, but you try to anticipate those things.
Q. Can you talk about recruiting? Obviously it’s the big story. There’s been a lot of discussion about whether or not you allow players to visit once they’ve committed. What protocol is there?
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: Everything is open for interpretation, every case is different. It’s like discipline, raising your kids at home. What we encourage players to do is if they want to commit to us, they commit. That means the only official visit they take is to our place. Those are general parameters we put out there. There are conversations that take place, et cetera. Everybody has a matter of choice. And as I said earlier, the recruits, the prospects have the ultimate freedom, and they should. Recruiting is all about the prospect finding the university that’s the best for them. I’ve always believed that. It’s not about making a college coach happy or anyone else happy other than the prospect and their family.
Our encouragement has always been for any players, any prospects, to do your homework, do your research, get out and talk to people, see people face-to-face, don’t do it off the helmet or what the cheerleaders look like at this school. Talk to the people that are going to be influential and supportive in your development as a student athlete. You can’t do that via the Internet or all that stuff you’ve got to get out there and talk to folks. And then once they’ve done that work and they’re convinced they want to come here, then that’s fantastic.
It would be really nice for us as coaches to think that you’re never going to get a surprise. I can say this, in recent history the recruits that we’ve dealt with have been great. They’re very straight forward. It’s a matter of choice for everybody.
Q. You talked at the end of last season about virtual reality options?
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: It’s fascinating stuff. My first response, you never really rule anything out. But to make it really workable and practical in a college environment I think is a little bit more challenging. Quite frankly just to give you a real honest response, it would probably be more like for bells and whistles. Hey, we do that. That looks pretty flashy for prospects. But I’m not sure the bang for your buck is as good as whereas this stuff — the players aren’t involved. Anytime you involve players, it’s really a tough battle that way. You can argue in the offseason you can do things, might be some advantages there, we probably need to do some research talking to folks about that.
But I’ve always believed this, your film is a great aid. I don’t know if you caught the post game, Monday night Denver game, it was asked what’s your secret, it’s in the tape. And that’s been that way forever. So virtual reality tape versus tape like we all watch, maybe you can make that argument. But two me the two things are it’s in the tape and it’s in the doing. You only get so many chances to do, so that’s a big thing.
I’d have to know more about it. But fascinating stuff.
Q. Do you have a specific policy for if a kid contacts you who’s committed to a definite school that maybe wants to visit you. Is that a case-by-case thing?
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: We’re open to it. We’ll listen. No hard, firm policies, other than case-by-case. But we do have a blanket statement we try to operate on. And just kind of go from there.
Q. Does your flexibility depend on how the recruit handles telling you guys information?
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, sure. There are a lot of things that factor into it, sure.
Q. How is Boone Myers, and do you think he’s gained enough ground now?
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: I hope so. I’ll probably be able to tell you more Tuesday. I’m hoping everybody is progressing. You never get to pick your bye weeks, but this is a good week for it, just like a year ago, the time worked out pretty well for us. Hopefully be more healthy by next Tuesday.
Q. For continuity wise, I think it’s four straight games it’s had a different shape there?
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: But that’s how football goes, you can’t always predict it. And last year, too, was a year of a lot of moving parts with our football team. We got through it and navigated through it. This year’s been similar that way. And it makes it a challenge, but some years you’re really lucky. 2002 stands out in my mind. I think our left corner position was the only position that was affected for the most part. You get a year like that, that one is extreme. But this year and last year it’s been at the other side.
Q. What are your thoughts right now on your wide outs, the younger ones, work-in-progress, are they underdeveloped?
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, you know, you don’t want to talk about injuries, you don’t want to talk about graduation. But it is reality, certainly having George out last week didn’t help us, or not at maximum operational speed, that’s for sure. And he’s our leading guy coming back, most experienced guy. So those two things coupled with losing Smith, who developed into an NFL player, and losing one of the better tight ends we’ve had. The combination of all those things, it’s not ideal.
But we’ve got to push forward. We have good, young players that are getting better, they’re learning, they’re improving and now we’ve got to get them to take the next step. I’m sitting here thinking week 11, it would have been in ’13, Tevaun Smith makes a huge play. It wasn’t like he was lighting it up prior to that. Young Tevaun Smith, second year player, stuck his right hand up, snatched that ball and put it in the end zone. All of a sudden we’re back in a pretty good ballgame. But those kind of spark plays can really help you. That’s an example of it’s pretty picturesque of us, actually, we’re a team that has to get better, we need somebody to step up here and there. The only thing we can do is keep practicing, keeping working, and concentrating. And our guys are doing that, they’re working hard. They’re capable. We have to get one of those breakthrough moments that would help us right now. If it comes next Saturday, that would be great. I’d rather not wait for week 11, if we can do that.
Q. Sean Welsh said the continuity thing is just an excuse. Is that something that’s preached in the program?
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: That’s the way football goes. It could be in any sport. But football tends to be an injury related sport. It’s part of the game. So guys are going to get hurt, unfortunately. We all realize that. It’s one of the worst things you have to deal with as a coach. Somebody has to step up and it creates an opportunity for everybody else. I think our players understand that. And you can imagine one of your friends can’t play, it makes you feel bad, too, if you feel bad for them. But it’s the challenge of the game.
And that’s one thing about football, there’s going to be challenges and peaks and valleys in every season. The real key is how do you navigate that, negotiate them, push through. A year ago at this time during the bye week the really big message was don’t believe all the pressure, people are throwing the perfume on us, boy, you’re great. We’re winning by that much week to week. This week it’s the other way. We’re not where we want to be, all that stuff. And so what are we going to do? Push through. We’ve got four games left. And what are we going to make of the season. That’s part of the game. It all kind of ties together.
Q. Are you really, in your opinion, really not that far off from last year in a lot of ways?
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: It’s a fine line. I typically believe that. Although to me the biggest single step we took three weeks ago was playing a little better on defense. Prior to that, that makes it a little bit tough to be successful. If we can continue that and we played pretty good run defense the last day. The guy got out on the run that came down their boundary, it was a really good play on their part, and we were that close on that one. We played the run pretty well. So we can improve on defense. We can improve in every area, and that’s why we’ve got to figure out how to maximize everything we’ve got. Our goal is going to be to win the next four games, just like last year our goal was to win every game.
Q. And the criticism of your offense —
HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: We have nine points, although we played those guys last year, we had ten points. But they got six. So it goes back and forth. We have more distinguish defensive teams on the schedule to think we’re going to score 38 is probably not realistic. But we need to score more than nine, certainly Saturday nine didn’t get it done.
It’s all in the numbers. And good, bad or indifferent. But what I’m focusing on how do we get enough points to win a week from Saturday.