Hawkeye Fan Shop — A Black & Gold Store | Hawk Talk Monthly — October 2018 | I-Club Events Page | Game Notes PDF | Gameday Information | Transcript in PDF Format
KIRK FERENTZ: Good afternoon. Just a couple things about last weekend before we move on to Indiana. First and foremost, again, just pleased with the effort the guys had, first road trip, and for some of those guys it was their first road trip in college, period. I thought those guys really played through the environment, did a good job playing a tough Big Ten team and brought Floyd home, so that was certainly good.
Also want to congratulate a couple guys that were honored yesterday, Anthony Nelson on the defensive side and also Riley Moss for being the freshman of the week. I think really their effort represented the efforts of the team. We had a lot of guys out there really working hard, persevering, and showing some growth and gaining confidence. So that’s certainly a positive.
We asked a lot of our players last week that haven’t played a lot to step up and give us good effort. They did that. We’re going to need more of that this week and I’m sure in the weeks ahead. That’s just part of football.
Moving ahead to Indiana, our captains this week are Parker Hesse, Nate Stanley, Jake Gervase, and Brady Ross. Those four guys will go out for the coin toss. They did a great job giving us leadership this week.
Facing Indiana this week. Again, another big test for us, another road trip against another tough team. We’re on the road and another homecoming, as well, so some parallels there. Coach Allen’s teams, I think when you look at them they play hard. Certainly they give great effort, and I think they’re really a well-coached outfit. They have got good coaches on both sides of the ball, special teams included, and then they really reflect his personality. I think they play with energy. They fight hard and really have a lot of enthusiasm out there, and it’s ironic or coincidental, I guess, I think it was our bye week last year I was flipping the channels a little bit and saw them playing Michigan at home. That was really my first peek at them with Coach Allen there, and that effort they gave that day was really impressive. It was a heck of a football game. Michigan eked out the win there, but it was a tremendous exposure to what his program is all about, and now when we watch film of them this year, really see much of the same, that kind of effort from the football team.
Again, second straight road game for us, and I think one thing about playing in the conference, every road trip is a little bit unique. Last week we were in a city area where we sat in traffic on Friday and things didn’t run 100 percent smoothly, road construction, all that kind of stuff. This week is a little different deal and what have you. But I think that’s part of conference football certainly.
But for our players, it’s a learning experience. Some of our guys have been down there, not many. Last time we were there was ’15, so we have very few guys on our team that have been to Bloomington, and all that being said, it’s going to take us being really focused in that regard.
Most importantly, we’ve got to be prepared and we’ve got to be motivated and ready to go. I think you look at this game, it’s at the midway point for us so we’ll learn a little bit more about our football team certainly, and we go into the game with some depth issues, again, a little bit like last week. So one more challenge for us there.
On that topic, obviously Amani Jones will miss the first half of the ballgame, Jack Hockaday I don’t think will be able to play. Nick Niemann is still at least a week out so he won’t be able to play, also.
We have two guys that we’ll learn more about as the week goes on in Noah Fant and Ivory Kelly-Martin, and on the good news side, I think at least OJ and Matt Hankins I think are going to be able to go. They both seem to be about 100 percent right now.
So that part is good.
Bottom line is we’ve had two good workouts so far, and the big thing for us is to close out this week and be ready to go at kickoff. With that, I’ll throw it out for questions.
Q. Are they in the concussion protocol or —
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, they’re injured. They both came out of the game. I think the whole world saw that. Right now we’ll see where it goes. I think we’ll probably know more by Friday.
Q. You mentioned Amani Jones missing that first half. Have you gone back and looked at the play? Your thoughts on the targeting call? And the second part of that, teaching a defender, a guy coming across the middle, how tough is that for defenders?
KIRK FERENTZ: It’s really difficult, and coincidentally, I can’t tell you what play number it is, 28 or 68, I can’t remember which, but I saw a Michigan State receiver kind of get hit very similar in a similar way, and there wasn’t a flag on the field. So it’s a really tough play to officiate. I think there’s a lot of interpretation in there. It’s all about player safety, which I think everybody supports, and coaches and players alike, but there are tough things about the play.
One thing I do know, if your eyes are down, that increases the chance of a targeting call being issued out there. If you hit and strike with your helmet, that increases it, and if you’re up in that head and neck area, certainly that increases it, too.
It kind of looked like it was more like a shoulder pad, and I thought Amani was trying to get out of the way, but maybe as much as anything it was a really loud hit. If you were at the stadium, it sounded like a shotgun going off, pads hitting pads really. I mean, everybody was on the same page out there. I’ve never seen so many flags on one play, so everybody was on the same page there.
It’s unfortunate. Luckily their guy jumped right up, as did Amani, and nobody was hurt, and that’s the biggest thing. We’ll live with it. It’s just part of football this day and age.
Q. So does he got to hit him below the waist to avoid a flag?
KIRK FERENTZ: Well, yeah, then I think you can get a call for that, too, if you’re hitting on a guy’s knees. That’s quarterbacks. But it’s getting tougher. It just gets tougher every year, and we had one out here — I’m thinking back probably ’14 maybe where Jordan, they called one on Jordan against I think Iowa State on that far hash, and the big thing there was he had his head down when he made contact, and that’s almost a given if you do that and lead with your head.
But it’s a tough call. It’s a bang-bang thing. Appreciate the fact that at least now it’s reviewed, so at least there are more eyes getting on it and more conversation, but nobody is going to be 100 percent in agreement all the time.
Q. Along those lines, you went to sub package the majority of your snaps on defense. Was that partly because of the personnel that Minnesota had or is it mostly because of depleted at linebacking corps?
KIRK FERENTZ: You know, it’s kind of a match of both actually. I don’t know that we want Amani in there playing linebacker against a team that’s playing with bigger personnel like we had the week before, that probably wouldn’t have matched up so well. With Nick being out, he’s one of our better players, so you just try to get your best 11 guys on the field at all times, plus you play situation. So it’s kind of a little bit of a mix of both.
The fact that Geno has been playing pretty well and doing some good things on special teams, he’s played well on defense when called upon, we felt like that gave us an option, and as we move forward in the schedule, without — I’ll think for one second here, but I think most of the teams we play right now from here on out offer you some opportunity to play that way if you choose to.
But at the same time, Indiana could change their personnel this week. I doubt they will, but I think that’s something they could do if they wanted to, and then you have to adjust accordingly.
Q. You reference that 2000 game against Northwestern quite a bit as far as the reason to keep your base personnel in there on defense. Was there ever a tipping point in the last few years that maybe you just re-looked at it?
KIRK FERENTZ: No, not necessarily. I think usually — what I learned back in 2000 was you keep your best guys out there and play — first of all, keep your best 11 out there, as long as it doesn’t hurt you. If it does, if you just can’t keep up with what the other team is doing because of your personnel, then you’ve got to change out, obviously, and go from there. And then there are also situations that dictate — it’s just smarter, too, if it’s 3rd and 10, probably makes more sense but not always. So just kind of depends on who you are. And then if teams put you in a position where it’s tough, then you try to find another answer for it.
But I think we’re in a good situation right now when we get Nick back at least, and Barrington did a good job in there. Let me qualify that. But when we get Nick back in there, I think at least we feel confident in Nick and I think we’re gaining confidence in Barrington, and we’re gaining confidence in Geno, too, so it gives you a little option in terms of what you want to do when you play teams that play with one tight end and three receivers or more than three receivers.
I think the more versatile you can be, the better off you are, but that’s something we haven’t done a lot of quite frankly.
Q. When did that change? You guys did go straight 11 guys for a long time when you started. It feels like that changed maybe 2015-ish, or has it changed?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yes and no. I mean, Nick played pretty well out there, too, so if you’ve got a guy that can play — I’m going back to 2000, that was LeVar, but we just decided having him on the field was better for us than trying to find another guy to play that position. Just depends on your team overall, but I think, again, moving forward, we’ll probably have the option to do both, and that’s probably a good thing if you can do both.
But we’re one player down from being thin at safety, too, so it’s just kind of the world we live in. We’re a little bit like a pro team that way.
Q. After Saturday’s game you joked or exaggerated or, I don’t know, maybe you were telling the truth when you said it was everybody versus one, the decision for the fake field goal. But what was it? When was that decision made? Who makes that decision? Is it an instantaneous decision?
KIRK FERENTZ: I was just trying to add to the stereotype. I’ve kind of been typecast I think over the last 19 years. No, that’s one thing I think about having a staff that we’re very communicative, and I do try to listen really intently to what everybody has to say on the staff. It wasn’t just LeVar. LeVar was responsible for putting that play in, and we’ve been working it for weeks. But the other guys have to be on board, too. I think it’s not that you’re always going to be a consensus, but I like to listen to what the coaches are saying, and we want to try to give ourselves every opportunity to win.
If I hear enough people saying things that makes me really pay attention and listen a little bit, then I’ll definitely consider it. We felt like that was a perfect spot for it, and we talk about those things during the week, kind of rehash it on Friday when we kind of close the week out. I think there was a consensus there, we felt good about it, much like last year. And then the other part you have to get the right situation because it wouldn’t work in every situation. Not that our prognosis is always correct, but at least we had it kind of limited down to a couple situations where it might be a good time to call it. Still need sound execution, and the guys did a good job with that. That’s the biggest thing.
Q. How much more have you emphasized position versatility at linebacker and safety in recent years just with more and more spread offenses?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, I think that’s a good question. Part of it this year especially is just the fact that we graduated four senior linebackers, so last year we lose a guy, Ben slid in, and Kevin Ward played. Kevin kind of played the way Hooker was playing Saturday. Kevin was out in space more in that ballgame. But just having that position flexibility, but when we graduate four seniors, we’ve got a void to fill there.
We felt pretty good about Geno in the out of season. We liked what we saw of him in camp, liked what we saw last spring, so you’re just constantly evaluating your roster and looking to see who gives you the best chance.
But the good news is Nick was playing well before he got injured, so we feel like we know a little bit more about him right now. We know more about Barrington today than we did a week ago, and that’s all positive, too, and just kind of — you keep an open mind to what you were doing. And what we’re doing defensively is not dramatically different. It’s not like we’re reinventing. But the other point of your question of speed I think is really important, and I remember I felt that way — I think Jimmy Johnson really kind of taught everybody that back when he rose to prominence, especially at Miami, but he did a good job everywhere he’s been. But getting more speed on the field, I think it’s a game — if you can’t run on defense, you’re going to have a hard time being successful.
Q. Riley Moss, kind of lightly recruited out of high school, how has he worked his way up the depth chart, passing some guys and all of a sudden gets his first start?
KIRK FERENTZ: Well, the first thing is if we even talk about gray-shirting somebody we should sign them immediately or at least offer them immediately because whoever we offer a gray shirt to ends up playing either as a freshman, VandeBerg or now Riley or then end up in the NFL like Vandervelde. I think those are the only three I can think of that, boom, just took off.
But it gets down to game evaluation. We liked Riley a lot, and then KB was at one of his games last fall. I think it was late September, maybe this first week of October, somewhere in that ballpark, and he came back, I remember him distinctly saying, hey, we’ve got to look at this kid a little closer. We’ve don’t have him right. And that’s one thing that’s really nice when you see a live exposure and a player is really doing well on the field. That kind of really got the conversation going again.
Since he’s shown up here back in June, but especially in August, kind of just — he doesn’t always know what he’s doing, but he runs around hard and he really plays with energy, and he’s deceptively fast. There’s a lot of good things to work with there. He’s got a great attitude on top of it.
Q. Will he and Brents start again this week?
KIRK FERENTZ: Most likely. We’ll just see how the week pans out. We’ll see if they make it to the plane on Friday without getting lost or having a panic attack, but they got through one week at least, so that’s good.
The most important thing I think about both those guys and probably all these guys is we’re seeing improvement during the course of the game, and that’s encouraging. When you see guys growing and their arrows are going up, that’s really positive.
Q. Was Hankins more an emergency situation?
KIRK FERENTZ: He was on Saturday. Based on what we saw Friday, we were hoping he could play. He didn’t appear very confident, and he’s dealing with a couple things. But I think he’s more confident — I just asked him this morning where he thought he was at. He started out at 100 then dropped down to 95; I said, that’s fine, you’ll be 100 tomorrow. Anyway, I think he’s on the right side now and coming back up, and I think O.J. is the same way.
Q. Can he play with that cast on?
KIRK FERENTZ: We’re going to get that thing scaled down. At least so I’ve been told. That’ll help a lot, too.
My first thought on that was, that’s bad, but on the second thought, like how many balls has he touched this year anyway. But it’s hard to play without hands out there. You’re still trying to funnel and channel people, so that’ll help him.
Q. Some outside noise is why isn’t Noah Fant playing more. He’s significantly fewer snaps than T.J. What would your answer to those folks be?
KIRK FERENTZ: I don’t really have much to say about it. We’re trying to do things that we think are best for the team, whether it’s how we sub on defense, same thing on offense, and the bottom line is as I said after the game, we’ve got two really good tight ends right now, and they both play really critical roles on our team, but most important thing is, and I don’t know about the noise outside; I’m aware of it, but what I know is what I see from the guys in terms of their demeanor in the building, demeanor with their teammates and everything else, and it’s interesting we’ve had some really good players, a lot of those guys up on the wall over there, that were involved in either defensive schemes or touching the ball. I can’t remember anybody ever coming in and complaining about like, hey, I’m not getting the ball enough or not enough routes for me or not enough touches.
I would throw Noah in that category. You think about guys like Brad Banks, Dallas Clark, Fred Russell, Shonn Greene, who were really good offensive players here, nationally recognized. Fred wasn’t, but he should have been or could have been, and they’ve all had great attitudes. They just have been about coming up to practice and working hard and doing what we can to help the team, and Noah is right there with those guys. He’s been great. Hopefully we’ll have him back this week. It would really help us if he’s there.
Q. How much danger is there in him not playing this week? How likely is it he’s not going to play this week?
KIRK FERENTZ: I’m not smart enough to say that. The medical people make those decisions, and then if a guy clears with the medical staff then we have to see if they look good on the field. Matt is a good example. Matt was cleared last week, but based on what we saw Friday, it didn’t really give you confidence that he could go in there and play well, and if that’s the case, we’re not going to put a player out there.
Every case is really gray area, no matter what injury you’re talking about, unless it’s a broken bone or something like that, and I think in this case that’s what we’re looking at with both those guys.
Who else is out right now? Nick is open and closed, and Jack really — very encouraging based on what we saw the last 48 hours. I doubt he’ll be ready this week. It’s possible, but I doubt it. We’re not counting on that. But at least I think next week is probably realistic, and that’s good compared to where it could have been.
Q. What do you recall of recruiting T.J. Hockenson, small town, south central Iowa?
KIRK FERENTZ: I’m just laughing, the first thing I think about was his haircut. With all due respect, I shouldn’t talk about appearances, right? I had long hair, too, at one point in my life. I think that was well documented, right? So anyway, he’d probably laugh at mine. In fact, he probably already has.
The first thing that caught our attention was his production both on the football field, but also on the basketball court. His story is not the same as but it’s a little like Ike Boettger. When Ike came down, we asked him to come back with pads on, and he couldn’t block anybody, but his attitude was really — it showed in camp, and T.J. the same way. They really didn’t ask him to do much blocking in his high school program, for good reason. I mean, he was catching 8 million balls.
But it was really apparent that that wasn’t going to be a problem with him, just a matter of time and development and all that. Comes from a tremendous family, and he’s just a great guy, got a great attitude, really positive.
We’re in a really good situation. We’ve got two good tight ends that really can help our football team.
Q. He said that his cross sports helped him, whether it’s baseball, hand-eye coordination, basketball with lateral movements and positioning. It seems to be —
KIRK FERENTZ: I’ll tell you, not that any parents are going to listen to me, but I’m so in favor of, and anybody I talk to that knows anything about athletics I think kind of feels the same way, especially guys that are coaching, our former players. The value of playing other sports is so underrated, and we live in a society where parents are making decisions for kids when they’re eight years old. You’re going to play baseball, soccer, whatever. And you might have to do that in figure skating or tennis or some sports, maybe golf, I don’t know, but for the team sports, it’s just, I think, so valuable that players compete in other things besides one sport.
He’s a great example of it. I just mentioned Dallas. You go right down the list, there’s so many guys. Nate Kaeding was a multi, three-time captain, right, three state championship teams. What they gain from playing other sports is so valuable, and most high school athletes aren’t going on to college and playing Big Ten football. So just what you gather from that — but there’s a real strong movement it seems like when we go out and recruit the other direction. You’ve got your whole life to train. When you go to college you can train, all that stuff, but boy, the more diverse you can be, I think, the better, and he certainly is an illustration of that.
Q. It seems like Smith-Marsette comes back pretty strong after hitting every bump in the road. What can you say about his resiliency, and how hard is it to teach young players to be mentally tough when they come back?
KIRK FERENTZ: That’s the first thing about him. A year ago, his first play he got whacked and the ball came out, but it didn’t affect him. He moved forward. If you’re going to be successful in anything that’s tough to accomplish, you’d better have that trait or develop that trait. Not everybody has it, but you can develop it. That is — like a year ago he weighed whatever he weighed, 160 pounds, but he had resilience to him. That was part of his fabric.
Like right now, I think in his mind he can do anything. He could knock out Muhammad Ali, he could do — you name it, he could do it, and that’s a good thing, within reason, right, but that’s really I think what enables him to go out and compete the way he does. He’s really made good progress. He’s maturing as a player, and it’s just kind of — it’s good to watch that.
Q. How much of the wide receiver success and Nate’s success last week was IQ, reading the play and making the right decision?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, I think they busted a coverage there, and it was fortunate, and good job by Nate getting flushed a little bit and keeping his eyes downfield and finding him. He knew what was going on, so it was just a matter of getting there where he could get the ball out. But just like we talked about, the resilience that Ihmir has shown, that was to me the biggest positive I saw Saturday.
The negative is it would be really good if we could eliminate some of our turnovers, and it’s going to help us if we can do that and play cleaner football. The good news is we played through them really well, and Nate had a big hand in that. Either of those plays could rattle your cage a little bit, and he just kind of just kept playing. I’m sure it affected him but his demeanor was not affected. That’s important, too. He’s the quarterback, so we don’t want him to be out there trembling. That’s not good.
Q. It feels like your quarterbacks generally throughout history have had that trait, have had that low blood pressure where if they make a mistake they don’t freak out?
KIRK FERENTZ: If you’re good enough to be a starting quarterback at some point you’d better be developing that because you’re going to — it’s going to hit the fan. It just does. It’s a hard position. Everybody has got an opinion about it, first of all, and then secondly, it’s a tough position. We ask him to do a lot of things.
There are going to be bad plays. There’s going to be bad days, and you’ve got to work through those things. Nate has got an ability, he’s got immense — his preparation skills and his work ethic are top shelf, and again, that’s been — a lot of our quarterbacks have been that way, but his mental toughness is top shelf, too, and it’s hard to play this game if you’re not mentally tough.
Q. Indiana threw for over 300 at Ohio State, that passing game —
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, they’re — we didn’t talk much about that, but they’re similar in some ways to what we just saw, but the big difference in my mind is the quarterback is a very versatile guy. He’s a really good thrower. They’ve got a good attack. Their offensive coordinator is a veteran coach that really is highly regarded by I think everybody in football, and they put pressure on you a lot of different ways. Good receivers, good running backs.
But I think the big wild card here is the quarterback. He can pull it down and run. Some of it’s designed. Other things, if it opens up, he’ll just take off. If you lose contain — I just got done watching a play a couple hours ago where last week’s opponent got sucked inside a little bit and he’s right around the left end for a 1st down.
And those are the things — things that keep driving going really tend to be tough. We made their job easier on their first scoring drive last week. We picked up a five-yard penalty, right, on a 3rd and 8 or 9, whatever it was, all of a sudden now they’ve got 3rd and 4, then convert it right down the field. So those kinds of plays, to defend those, you really have to play good team defense, and he really plays well, and he plays with a lot of poise for being a young player. He’s a young guy, but boy, you’d never know it.
Q. Has Amani Jones shown enough consistency or did he show more consistency last week?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, that’s a great point. Unfortunately he’s going to miss the first half, but the good news, like we said, Barrington stepped in there and did a good job. I thought Amani played much better. That first game he was all over the place, trying to do 18 things on one play. He played a lot more by the numbers last Saturday, which was really encouraging.
So if we can get through all this, get guys back and all that and keep moving down the road a little bit in a positive direction, then hopefully maybe we’re developing some depth here, quality depth as we go along, which would be really good.
Q. Will you make a decision at halftime whether he comes in, or is he coming in?
KIRK FERENTZ: We’ll see. Kristian is going to start the game and we’re counting on him to play well. We’ll just see how it all goes, but it’ll be nice to have him available because we’re thin right now. We’ve got two freshmen right now working in the two deep, true freshmen, and they’ve been good since August, but still, it would be nice to have some guys that have played a little bit out there, four or five of them. Not to be greedy.
Q. When you look at Indiana’s 3rd downs, they seem to be real versatile. They’re not afraid to run the ball if it’s 3rd and 5 or 6 and then they’ll also throw when it’s 3rd and short. That seems to be — with the quarterback throwing 67 percent completion percentage, that seems to be a challenge for every defense this year.
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, these guys — it was consistent last year, too, but more so this year. They’re really moving the football. They do a good job. Again, it’s a good, well-conceived scheme that they have. They’ve got good players. Their linemen are tough and they’re veteran. They’ve got good experience up there. I think they’ve only got one new starter, and he beat out a veteran guy. They’re a good group. It starts with that. But the quarterback really makes them go. They’re a tough out.
So it’s going to be a big challenge for us to do a good job, and then defensively they’re aggressive. I mean, they’re tough and aggressive, and they’ve changed a little bit from last year. Unfortunately we wasted some time looking at last year’s stuff and then transition in, okay, it’s a little different package now. But they go hard.
Q. Does Aaron Mends have any shot at playing this year?
KIRK FERENTZ: We’ll see. He’s climbing the ladder. He and Wes Dvorak are both improving. I talked about them last night. Again, I don’t want to try to put a number on it, but I think they’ve got a shot to get back, and that’s what they’re working hard for right now.
Q. It’s the 10-year anniversary of the Kids Captain program. What has this program meant for you and your team?
KIRK FERENTZ: Well, what a great opportunity it is for our team, especially our seniors. They’re the ones who really are mostly involved. But we’ve got a lot of guys that go over to the hospital and make calls. Just was involved in one little thing, I know Colten Rastetter was really involved with a patient. But I think — first thing is I’m glad I’m not on the board who has to pick the captains, right, because what a tough job that is.
But when they come over on kids’ day in August that’s really a special thing, especially, again, for the seniors to spend time with them in the locker room and bring them out in the swarm, all that type of thing. Selfishly it’s a great reminder for our players just how fortunate they are, and I say it all the time, we choose to play football or coach football and we’re able to do it. Not everybody is that lucky.
But it really just kind of helps give you a little balance and makes you feel good, and hopefully it’s something that brightens their days, too. And I think when they get to be in the tunnel there when the players are coming by and then going out for recognition, it’s a pretty special thing.
I learned this from my wife, whatever year, it would have been 2005, being on the field in Kinnick during a game is so different than being in the stands, and that’s the first time she ever experienced it, so for them to have their experience, their families to have that experience, it’s a really nice thing.
Q. When you look at Indiana’s defense, just a few years ago they routinely would allow 500 yards a game, they were kind of boom or bust. Now they’re not the top of the country but they’re competitive there. What has Tom Allen done defensively?
KIRK FERENTZ: That’s his background, and I think that was kind of their achilles heel, if they had one, last time we were there. They could move the ball on anybody, and they’re still doing that, but they had a hard time, I think, just kind of settling in what they wanted to do defensively. I think it was ’14 out here where they ended up in an odd front, which I’m not sure we saw that coming, so it was a little bit of a departure. But they have an identity now, and I mentioned they’ve changed a little bit from last year, but they basically still are who they are. They’re a four-down scheme. They play aggressively. The guys up front really play hard and play with good technique and leverage, and the rest of those guys are really flying to the football, so it’s going to be a little bit of a challenge for us. It’s a little bit unique for us, so communication is going to be a little bit critical. It’s going to be a process right now that’s going to be critical Saturday.
And then like anything, it’s execution. Hopefully we have a good plan and then hopefully we can execute it, but they can test you and they get really tough.
Q. Brandon, in the first week he wasn’t using his body like I think you guys wanted him to. Was that the message from week one for him?
KIRK FERENTZ: Well, I think the big thing is that was his best game as a Hawkeye, unofficially. One person’s opinion. But it’s, again, I keep reminding myself and probably everybody how young he and Ihmir are. Those guys are second-year players, and Noah and T.J. are really young players, too, as far as what we’re used to.
The exciting thing is hopefully we’re going to see continued growth, and we see them practicing better every day right now, but I think every player goes through it. Those guys are a little bit more noticeable out there because they’re in the open. But just learning how to use what you have and playing to your strengths, that’s a big part of football, and good players learn how to do that, and if they do have any weaknesses, try to disguise those a little bit and play to the things they can do well.
Certainly I think we’re seeing that. That was his best game as far as just like making some tough catches, but using the things he has that are a little different than some other players.
Q. That catch coming over the defensive back like that, you don’t see those very often.
KIRK FERENTZ: I haven’t seen him do in practice, either, so it was really good. That was a really hard play. It was a great play. Yeah, that was really — that to me is like, okay, now we’re starting to go somewhere. If they’ve got to defend him, that would be really nice. If you’ve got a guy on each side they’ve got to defend a little bit, we’re gaining ground hopefully.