|Date||Opponent / Event||Location||Time|
|09/01/12||vs. Northern Illinois||Chicago, IL||2:30 PM|
|09/08/12||vs. Iowa State (Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series)||Iowa City, IA||2:30 PM|
|09/15/12||vs. Northern Iowa||Iowa City, IA||2:30 PM|
|09/22/12||vs. Central Michigan||Iowa City, IA||TBA|
|09/29/12||vs. Minnesota (HC) *||Iowa City, IA||11:00 AM|
|10/13/12||at Michigan State *||East Lansing, MI||11:00 AM|
|10/20/12||vs. Penn State *||Iowa City, IA||7:00 PM|
|10/27/12||at Northwestern *||Evanston, IL||11:00 AM|
|11/03/12||at Indiana *||Bloomington, IN||TBA|
|11/10/12||vs. Purdue (FW) *||Iowa City, IA||TBA|
|11/17/12||at Michigan *||Ann Arbor, MI||TBA|
|11/23/12||vs. Hy-Vee Heroes Game vs. Nebraska (FA, S) *||Iowa City, IA||11:00 AM|
Come cheer on the Iowa Hawkeyes on the big screens as they battle it out with Indiana...and help raise money for the Children's Therapy Center!
November 3rd at Modern Woodmen Park
Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. It includes a $5 food and beverage voucher during the game.
Tickets available at the Black & Gold Shop, Modern Woodmen Park box office, or at the Children’s Therapy Center in Moline.
Sponsored in part by WOC 1420, Q106.5, 101-3 KISS-FM, Fox Sports Radio 1230, Scott County I-Club, and the Black & Gold Shop!
Kirk Ferentz Transcript
COACH FERENTZ: Injury-wise, I think we are in good shape. I think we came out of the game fairly healthy. Captains remain the same. We have got James Vandenberg and James Ferentz offensively; Micah Hyde and James Morris on the defensive side.
It was certainly a tough loss on Saturday. You know, we came in and looked at it on Sunday and made our corrections and we have moved on now to UNI. Had to move fast. UNI has an excellent football team, really since Coach Farley has been there, and going back even further than that. But they have done a great job under Coach Farley for over 12 years, and they have an excellent plan, excellent players.
Those guys do a good job, and I think all you have to do is look back to the 2009 game when we played them. I don't know that we played anybody during the course of that season that played any harder than they do, and that's exactly what you see on their film from last year or this year.
So they are a team that's very well coached. They play with great toughness, great effort and it's going to be a big challenge for us on Saturday.
Q. How concerned are you about your offense?
COACH FERENTZ: We have not scored a lot of touchdowns. That's always a concern. And you know, we are going to have to do a better job of that. We have to do a better job of finishing plays and finishing drives.
Q. Is there any common thread there?
COACH FERENTZ: No, I think it's pretty much just team execution right now. And you know, we have done a lot of things in practice that are encouraging. I thought we had a good August and were moving forward. I think in time that's going to show up.
Q. Are there things that you guys can do as coaches maybe to loosen things up or help guys that are struggling right now?
COACH FERENTZ: I think you just keep practicing, keep working, and you just have to do a better job of finishing plays or finishing drives.
Q. What's been the difference between the 20s and then when you get down into the red zone?
COACH FERENTZ: Oh, yeah, the field is a little tighter down there. It's a big part of football, offensively and defensively; if you can keep people out of the end zone, obviously it increases your chances and that's something we have done a fairly good job of over the years.
And then flipping it around, just like a week ago, we got down in there and scored field goals. At some point that's going to catch up to you, and Saturday we came up short again. They kept us out of the end zone.
So it's a little tougher circumstance when you get down there, but if you can't master that, you can't have success; it's unrealistic to think that you're going to be a successful football team. But we'll just keep working at it. We have done some good things in practice down there. We just have to keep working to refine things.
Q. Is there a cure or can there be a cure for drops?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, I think just practice and concentration. You know, it's like anything else, and we certainly dropped too many balls Saturday to expect to win the game.
Q. What were your thoughts on the progress of the offensive line, and was there any regression in the running game?
COACH FERENTZ: It's hard to say yes or no. They did a better job against the run; better run defense probably than what we would have seen two weeks ago. But our protection certainly improved. It wasn't perfect at times and there were times still where James got hit and got pressured, but I think overall it was better.
It’s like our whole football team right now, we need to continue to improve, but there were some things in there that were positive. A big part of that and our entire offensive performance right now is just consistency. If you have eight or nine guys doing something really well and a couple other guys breaking down, you end up with a bad player and a no‑gain type play. Those are the things. The challenges never really change. It's just a matter of how the team handles those challenges.
Q. There's been so much focus on the struggles of the offense, but it seems that on the other side of the ball, the defense might be coming on a little bit quicker than many expected. What are your thoughts on that unit?
COACH FERENTZ: I thought on the field Saturday, and I felt that way after Sunday after watching tape, I felt like we played better in the second half. We grew defensively. We just have more confidence. We are more decisive in our play, and as a result, probably played a little faster. So that was encouraging.
And then obviously the play that James made down there in the end zone, that was a huge play because if they score there, we are in serious trouble. And not only did he stop the score, but he gave a chance to do something with it.
And that's the next step, too, for our team; to take advantage of opportunities. We did that two weeks ago in the fourth quarter, really took advantage of a good opportunity and didn't do that, basically twice Saturday in the fourth quarter. We got the ball up there in a good field position, and then went out on downs and moved it on the two‑minute drill and then didn't finish that drive.
So those are the steps we have to do, but I thought we grew defensively and made some improvement. But there's still a lot of things on the film that we have to get better at and things that UNI is looking at right now that they are going to test us on, and if we are not better Saturday, it will show up.
Q. UNI's quarterback, a freshman in FCS football, are you impressed with what you’ve seen from him?
COACH FERENTZ: I don't know about surprised but I'm awfully impressed; I think all of us are, for a first‑year starter. That was his first game experience two weeks ago up in
We have all been there. That's a tough place to go under any circumstance. For a first‑year player to go up there and play the way he did, particularly in the second half, that says a lot about him. He's a very impressive young guy. Different quarterback than they have had a year ago, certainly. And they do a nice job of playing to their strength.
So he's a good thrower, an adequate runner; not a bad runner, but he's a better thrower than runner probably and, boy, he did a really nice job up there. So that was really impressive. He gave their team a chance to win, or helped lead them to a point where they had a chance to win the ballgame.
Q. Do you think any of your true freshman receivers will be used or is it a week‑by‑week thing?
COACH FERENTZ: We'll see how it pans out or plans out. We have looked at the guys and we have got a couple guys that we've talked about but we are going to see how things just develop here as we go along. But right now, we are not. We'll see how the week goes, but we are not planning anything dramatic at this point.
Q. Your defense has looked a lot better in the second half of games. How much of that is Phil and his in‑game adjustments, and how much is that them just finally being able to see what the other team is doing, as opposed to on film where you don't have much film of teams yet?
COACH FERENTZ: I think it's probably more of the latter. Plus we are a young team right now. Guys get the feel of a game, you hope they learn as they go along and things slow down a little bit for them mentally. I think we have seen thatthe last couple weeks. So, you know, that's encouraging. Making progress there. We are hardly out of the woods but we are making progress and we did keep them out of the end zone ‑‑ I take it back, one touchdown.
Normally if you give up nine points, that's going to be enough to win and it wasn't on Saturday. There's no givens on anything, but that's encouraging at least.
Q. James Vandenberg, was he a little hard on himself? He was talking the bullet quite a bit Saturday after the game.
COACH FERENTZ: I think so. I think I said on the teleconference, and I say this with all respect, we have a lot of guys invested, but James is right there at the top. He spends an awful lot of time; has ever since he's gotten here. So he expects a lot from himself, and he's a team guy and maybe too much so at times.
If I have a worry about him, I worry about him putting too much pressure on himself. And it's easy to tell a guy, don't, just play your position, easier said than done. But that's the way he's built. He's so respected because of that. He's extremely tough mentally, and tough physically, and he's an excellent football player.
Nobody's happy about the production we have had so far. But all you can do is keep pushing and keep working and the biggest thing he has to do is do his part, not try to do too much, because that can affect his performance.
Q. The fact that he is like that, I assume that's got to help the team chemistry.
COACH FERENTZ: Well, yeah, if your quarterback is not like that, he probably shouldn't be playing. I think it's going to be hard for guys to respect anybody that isn't that way. But yeah, just he's built that way, and you know, he's respected by everybody here in the program.
Q. If you feel too much pressure, can that come out on the field, just in the form of decision making?
COACH FERENTZ: Oh, sure. That's a danger. You just let the game come to you; and I'll go back to I guess it would have been the spring of '87 ‑‑ I've probably said this before.
We had three guys competing for a job out here. We had McGwire, Hartlieb, Poholsky competing for the job and sometimes you see all those guys trying to force throws and do things too much. And you know, coming out of that spring, the batting order, Hartlieb was third out of the batting order and he ended up being the guy that eventually won the job.
Big part of playing any position is you've got to just try to play within the framework of what it is you're asked to do. You know, trust that everybody else is going to do the same thing.
Q. Is that the hard part when things are not working right, you press?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, it's natural. It happens. You know, we are not the most experienced group right now, so I think the experienced guys feel like they have to do a little bit more and there's a fine line. They do have to do more; they have got to be playing the best, because it's only fair to assume they are going to play their best. But yeah, if you push too hard, sometimes ‑‑ I haven't golfed in, you know, like 12 years, but you squeeze a golf club, that's not a good thing. I did figure that out. I just never learned how to figure it out.
Q. You've seen already this year, five FCS teams beat FBS teams; what is it in college football that these games are not gimmies anymore like they used to be maybe 15, 20 years ago?
COACH FERENTZ: I'm not aware what the scores are, but again, two games, all we have to do is look at, we just go back to 2009, in effect, we were really fortunate to win that ballgame. We all knew that coming off the field.
And then you look at the
That's the reality of college football. There are a lot of good football players out there in a lot of different schools. In this case it's really no surprise because UNI has had a history of going, traveling anywhere, and playing extremely well against anybody.
So you have a case for this year and certainly you have a case from two years ago. A lot of our guys maybe don't understand that because they were not here in 2009, but they need to understand it going into this week, or, you know.
Q. When you start shift your attention to UNI, how quick were you to remind your team of that game and how often do you remind them of it throughout the week?
COACH FERENTZ: We really haven't talked about that yet. We will this afternoon. That will be our first time together where we really focus on the opponent. But you know, if we ignore that, then we're fools. So we'd better be paying attention to that.
But there are a lot of guys on our team that 2009 is like ancient history to some guys. When they throw the Wisconsin film on, should get their attention if they are paying attention.
Q. When you have an FCS team on your schedule, would you rather have
COACH FERENTZ: Well, we did have a choice in this, so I'm fine with it. But I also know when we scheduled this game, I was pretty ‑‑ there was no way to predict everything, but pretty confident that it was going to be a really tough football game. And that's what we expect, only because that's what UNI has been for a long time. But again, certainly the last 12 years, you look at what they have done, it's awfully impressive.
Now maybe if I could have gotten out of it after the 2009 game ‑‑ but we didn't have a choice at that point. I think it was already in the books.
Q. Can you talk about the day you got Tanner Miller, what the circumstances were?
COACH FERENTZ: I don't know if I remember all of the exact details, other than we have done that with several guys where recruiting is an unpredictable time, and if something happens, you have a list of priority guys that you go to. It's ironic how it turned out.
So anyway, Tanner, we made that phone call and he was receptive. He certainly was quote, unquote, under‑recruited. And I think that's one thing you could probably say about Bryce Paup, some of the guys that have played at UNI through the history of their program. They have had some excellent football players: Kurt Warner ‑‑ I'm still trying to figure out who the guy was that was ahead of him. They say he didn't even play until his fifth year. But they have had some great football players.
So, yeah, it was just one of those things where it was the next call for us.
Q. If UNI does go FBS, do you think guys like Tanner Miller, Brandon Miller - do you think those guys may not become available anymore?
COACH FERENTZ: Steve just brought me up‑to‑date, because I have not read papers really the last couple days. I'll catch up probably tomorrow night.
Yeah, it's a possibility. It's definitely a possibility. It will make things more competitive.
Q. And walk‑ons, too ‑‑
COACH FERENTZ: I think we have already hit that spot, though. A lot of people to recruit in our state now besides the three scholarship schools in state. I think it's gotten tougher and tougher with every year.
Q. Is Sleeper back or is he still under suspension?
COACH FERENTZ: He's back in now this week, yeah.
Q. How would you assess your running game now?
COACH FERENTZ: It's been okay. We did certain ‑‑ certainly bailed us out two weeks ago and I thought it was solid the other day but there are things we can improve on. Damon is still a young player and we are still a little bit inconsistent up front with some things, things that we can do better and execute better and that's one thing on our list this week is trying to be a little bit more proficient this week as we move forward.
Q. The two runs on first and goal from the three, was that to give the offensive line something they could hang on the wall ‑‑
COACH FERENTZ: We thought those were the best calls in that situation. I mentioned the two opportunities that we had in the fourth quarter, and certainly that's another one there that when you get the ball ‑‑ the bad news was we didn't get the score that got pulled back. I haven't seen the replay, but I'm sure it was the right call. Couldn't tell on the tape, but I don't doubt that in the least.
But there's an opportunity where you have the ball inside the five and we can't knock it in there; and to their credit, they made the stops, we didn't. But that's one more example of if you're not making ‑‑ converting those situations that tight ball game like that, they all start to add up and those are three right there that came back and bit us.
Q. Games like this one or last week, the couple of weeks, have an emotional overtone one way or the other; how much do you either play up or play down emotion in preparation of the game leading up to it, and then on game day and focus on the next week?
COACH FERENTZ: From our standpoint right now, I think there are two things at play. We really have to be focused on improving because we have a lot of things that we have to get better at this week in, all regards, offense, defense and special teams.
And then the other part is I think just the realization ‑‑ and Coach Saban probably addressed this last week a little bit, but if you're not careful, it's easy for people to think, boy, this and that and all that stuff. There are a lot of misconceptions out there. When you're playing competitive sports, it's typically pretty competitive, and at least from where we are at right now. Consider our situation; also consider what we have seen UNI do in two games.
You know, this thing, we are going to be at our absolute best, either emotionally or preparation‑wise, intensity‑wise, however you want to describe it, we are going to have to be ready to play to expect to win this football game. You can't predict 100% what the opponent is going to do, but history would tell you in this case, it's going to be a tough game for us, so we have got to be ready to go.
Q. Hitchens has some pretty impressive tackle totals so far, what have you seen from him?
COACH FERENTZ: He's coming around and coming along. I think we have two linebackers that are pretty confident with Kirksey and Morris, and then Hitch is kind of the newest of the group, if you will. He's a little bit more like a lot of our players that has not played a lot but certainly has the potential to be a good player. He was very productive the other day.
Some plays he would like to have back, too, I think; but he's making progress and I thought in the second half, he played a little bit more decisively. There's one play in particular they ran twice the first time. Didn't look real good on it and the second time he came back and played it really well.
When you see that, that's really encouraging. Whereas like James Morris is seeing things a lot better and a lot faster and he's playing at a really high level right now. The challenge is for Chris to get up there ‑‑ or for Hitch to get up there with the proficiency that James has or Chris has. Those guys have played a little bit more, but he's making progress.
Q. Fumbles can hurt a running back’s playing time. Can drops hurt a receiver’s playing time?
COACH FERENTZ: I think at some point ‑‑ it's that fine line, too. It's like we talked about with the quarterback play. You don't want guys just paralyzed out there; hey, if I drop a ball, I'm out, or a pitcher that gives a home run, he's out of there, one of those shots. It's a fine line and we just have to work through it.
But we can hopefully concentrate a little bit more and do a little bit better. But again I think we've caught the ball ‑‑ I was pretty transparent on my feelings about it and how we were doing in the spring and I think we have really made improvement in August.
Now the next step is for the improvement to show up on the game field.
James Ferentz Video
Steve Bigach Video
Tom Donatell Video
Kirk Ferentz Chat Transcript
COACH FERENTZ: First of all, just give Iowa State credit. They outplayed us today and deserved to win the football game, it was hard fought, both sides. We are certainly disappointed to come out on the short end, but the credit goes to them and we'll go back to work tomorrow.
Q. Were there issues on offense ‑‑
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, we had several drives where we moved it, and you know, when we are making some plays, that gives you a chance to move it and advance it. The little things affected us, a lot of little errors during the course of the game, soft drives certainly did.
Our protection was better today, just in general terms; that was an improvement. But obviously we didn't finish drives again, the ones that we did have. Got to throw it a couple of times but couldn't sustain it. And then obviously the biggest situation, it was ball down inside the five and we couldn't punch it in.
Q. How big of a momentum shift was it to tie the game ‑‑ to go three‑and‑out and have to settle for a field goal?
COACH FERENTZ: Obviously you're hopeful that you have the touchdown go your way. But I'm sure he did step out, so they put the ball back out there and just have to adjust to that situation and go from there. That's a makeable situation that we didn't get it done.
Q. Did you think the passing game was more in sync today?
COACH FERENTZ: Not really. At times, when we were driving the ball, we hit some plays and made some plays, and that's part of the passing game. But we are not there yet. I think that's fairly obvious right now.
Q. How concerned are you, you got the sacks under control but the lack of offense?
COACH FERENTZ: Well, it would have been great to have more points today, more yards; points more importantly than yards. But it's just what it is right now, and we are going to keep working for it. We ran the ball better last week, not as well today.
So you know, it's a collective thing, and we'll just have to keep working hard. But I'm not discouraged. I think our guys, they are playing hard, they are working hard. They never quit today. They kept fighting in all areas. So we are just going to have to keep pushing forward to get some improvement.
Q. Did the wide receivers do a good job of getting separation?
COACH FERENTZ: It's hard to say. For whatever reason, we didn't throw the ball well enough to win. We didn't throw it well enough to win. Protection was better, I think I can say that but outside of that, I'm not sure, have to keep watching.
Q. It's a team sport but your defense showed up again today.
COACH FERENTZ: The first half wasn't great, first drive in particular, but I thought for sure in the second half they really grew up a little bit. You just feel that on the sidelines. We were more decisive, more confident and it certainly didn't hurt that a couple of guys made some plays there, too. It's the same thing on defense; you get a guy like James Morris come up and that was huge. The guys are fighting in there, and that's encouraging, certainly and we'll try to build on that as well.
Q. Do you worry about Vandenberg's confidence after two games like this?
COACH FERENTZ: Oh, you don't about anybody's confidence but it is what it is, and we just have to keep working and playing.
He's doing a good job. All you can do is go back and practice. Learn from tomorrow when we look at the film certainly and see what we can't do to improve what we did do and see if there's some other things we can do to improve the situation.
Q. The last interception by
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, you know, maybe the throw wasn't perfect, I don't know, but it was a great effort by Knott. He is an outstanding football player. Looked like he went up there and got it. You have James Morris making a pretty good play, and kind it's like a tit‑for‑tat deal, one of those shots. We'll see it on tape. But the big thing is we moved ball around there and had a chance. Just came up short again.
Q. What are the things that you have to do to make sure that this loss isn't something that carries over into next week?
COACH FERENTZ: Well, the bottom line is we are 1‑1 now and I'll explain that to the team again tomorrow, we are 1‑1. We have got 10 games to go.
I think we knew coming into the season that this was going to be a big, big month for us. We can't waste a day in terms of, you know, what we need to be doing to get better moving forward.
Losses hurt; they are supposed to hurt, and they do hurt. It won't feel great tomorrow. Won't be a lot of fun watching the tape. We are going to see some good things on that tape and we are also going to see some things that I think are correctible. And the challenge is how much better can we get this coming week and how much can we improve and start to put things together. There's not a lot of time to sit around and just mope or anything like that. You know, we'll have to get back to work here tomorrow.
Q. What about the big play, you guys lost a big play guy last year, Marvin, and something you haven't really seen, a deep threat at that stretch of the defense?
COACH FERENTZ: Marvin set a lot of records here and he was an excellent football player. That's college football. You're going to lose guys to graduation and somebody is going to have to fill that void. It will come. It will come. We are just not there yet certainly.
Q. Your offense, did you ever feel that, hey, this is how we got it?
COACH FERENTZ: That last drive, I felt pretty confident with how we were moving the ball and that wasn't easy, came out of that tackle and got the ball up there and made a couple nice throws to Damon, nice throws and catches.
You know, I don't think we are that far away but you know, things really have to be clean and crisp right now for us to execute. You know, we just have to keep pushing. There were a couple series during the course of the game where we ran through there pretty well and did a nice job and then other series where it was just three and out. Those are not much fun certainly.
Q. Your defense had
COACH FERENTZ: The second half I thought we really played with confidence. Just looked like a different group out there. So hopefully that's not a temporary thing but hopefully that will give our guys a little confidence, and that's what we have to get offensively, too.
This fall, Kinnick Stadium will be a little greener thanks to new game day recycling effort, starting with the Iowa vs. Iowa State game Sept. 8.
University of Iowa Athletics, Facilities Management, the Office of Sustainability, Waste Management, the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, and the ECO Hawk student organization are partnering to reduce the amount of trash ending up in the landfill after football games.
Twenty-four gold-top recycling containers will be placed at the Kinnick entrance gates and 17 containers will be set in the concourse areas, adding to the Coca-Cola bottle-shaped bins already in place.
Fans can do their part by recycling plastic bottles, cans, plastic souvenir cups, paper cups, coffee cup holders and lids, popcorn buckets, cardboard and paper. Items not accepted include bags, glass, food or food-covered containers. Volunteers led by Delta Tau Delta members will be staffing recycling stations at the gates to educate and assist fans with sorting their recyclable materials.
ARAMARK is also joining the effort by collecting pre-consumer waste (kitchen waste) in the concessions and Press Box areas for composting. During the post-game cleanup on Sundays, Delta Tau Delta brothers will assist City High and West High students to sort recyclable materials. Waste Management will haul all the materials collected at games to a City Carton recycling facility.
This game day recycling program is part of the UI’s 2020 Vision sustainability goal diverting 60 percent of waste from the landfill by 2020. During last season’s Iowa vs. Michigan game on Nov. 5, approximately 25 percent of the waste generated was recycled and diverted from the landfill. UI’s game day recycling team hopes to more than double that number, aiming for a 60 percent diversion rate this season, according to Brion Hurley, an ECO Hawk member and former Iowa Hawkeye kicker.
Student groups are encouraged to join the UI recycling team to help make Kinnick greener. For information about volunteering, see http://sustainability.uiowa.edu/gameday-recycling/ or contact the Office of Sustainability at 319-335-5517 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kirk Ferentz Video
Micah Hyde Video
James Ferentz Video
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Thousands of fans will have a chance to prove they were present at the Cy-Hawk Series football game, Saturday, September 8th, when the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series FanCam comes to Kinnick Stadium.
Fans will need to be in their seats at least 15 minutes prior to kickoff, because at that time an ultra-high-definition, 5 billion pixel 360 degree image will be taken from the 25-yard line.
This high-def image will capture Kinnick Stadium in its entirety, and the image takes between 5-7 minutes to shoot. The image will then appear on www.iowacorncyhawkseries.com/fancam. Fans will be able to “step inside” the 360 gigapixel image and look around, as if they were standing on the field for a frozen moment of time.
The resolution of five billion pixels is so high that fans will be able to zoom in to find themselves or friends, “tag” themselves in the photo, and share via email, Facebook and Twitter. Fans can even cruise around the stadium to see who else was part of the event.
Fans will have a chance to win a 2012 Flex Fuel Chevy Equinox provided by Iowa Corn. Be sure to click on the “enter to win” link on the left hand side of the site.
Fans can follow updates on www.iowacorncyhawkseries.com. The FanCam will be available for “tagging” on Sunday, Sept 9th.
COACH FERENTZ: Welcome, everyone. Just start out and let you know our captains this week were selected by the leadership group. They are James Vandenberg and James Ferentz offensively and Micah Hyde and James Morris on defense.
Medically right now, as you probably know we had two guys who had to go through surgery these past couple weeks through camp. We lost Barkley Hill, had surgery last Friday. Then we lost Ruben Lile about 10 days ahead of that. So both those guys will obviously be out this year.
Surgeries went well. They're in the mode of rehabbing right now which is a long, hard road. Then certainly Jordan Lomax came in with a shoulder injury. He won't play this year. Jordan Canzeri is rehabbing from the knee surgery back in the spring and doing well. Those guys are obviously out right now.
We're playing a team, Northern Illinois, who has had a very successful couple of years. They've had success for a long period of time, but last two years won 22 ballgames, 15‑1 in the MAC. They've done a great job the last couple years. Excellent football team. Very, very experienced on defense. Very experienced on special teams.
They've got some new faces offensively particularly up front which will match up with our guys defensively. We're a little bit young on that side as well.
I think we've had a productive pre‑season. The past three weeks the guys have worked hard, they've had a good attitude, I think we've gotten some things done. Now it's another step for us, first game week. Obviously we go on the road and play a very good opponent.
All in all, a big challenge for us this week. We'll see how we handle it. First time out, game week. Hopefully that will go well. We'll see what we can do on Saturday.
I'll throw it out for questions.
Q. Can you assess where Damon Bullock is right now? Do you envision him being your bell cow or try to mix it up the first few weeks?
COACH FERENTZ: He hasn't played an awful lot. Got a lot of work in the spring and really improved. Certainly did a good job this camp. So we feel good about that.
I think with our situation right now, losing Barkley, we're down to three guys we can envision going into the ballgame, Damon being the most experienced, and he has played, but he's hardly a seasoned player. I think all three of those guys will be in there and we'll go from there.
All three of the guys practiced well and we expect them to do a good job out there. I'm sure we'll have some ups and downs like all young players.
Q. Brad Rogers is the back-up back?
COACH FERENTZ: He's good to go. Mark Weisman had a good camp. Maybe as improved as anybody player on our team. Those are our five primary guys. Jonathan Gimm, I'd be remiss if I didn't bring him up, he really had a good spring, a good season.
Q. Do you have a plan for that rotation?
COACH FERENTZ: I have a plan to play all three guys and see how they do. Certainly right now I expect all three guys to be in the game. I don't know to what extent. We'll see how that plays out. We'll look and see what the week of practice looks like and go from there.
Q. Do you have a plan for rotation at running back?
COACH FERENTZ: We have a couple players in this category. Mike missed a lot of last year with the knee injury, too. He's coming off a knee rehab. Did a nice job throughout camp. So he's missed some playing time, last year, kind of like Maurice Fleming. But both those guys are doing well. I think real do a good job. Mike is a good back.
Q. Greg Garmon, what have you seen from him so far?
COACH FERENTZ: Greg's done a good job as well. Both those guys may go the wrong way a time or two. We kind of anticipate that. They're not well‑versed yet. Greg is a pretty dynamic player. He's a guy that can do a lot of things. Very quick, seems to have a real passion for playing. We're excited about him.
Q. Meyer solid on the kickoffs?
COACH FERENTZ: Mike, I think, has really grown a lot. We have a lot of guys that really, if you would, turned the corner a little bit in spring practice. I think about him and James Morrison. So, yeah, confident he'll do a good job for us. We got him for two years, so we're excited about that.
Q. They had Harnish. How do you think it's going to be different with Lynch?
COACH FERENTZ: Time will tell. Harnish was just a tremendous performer, outstanding player. Playing in the NFL right now. Last time I checked he was. But his productivity in a lot of ways, he did so many things for them.
We're not quite sure what to expect right now. They have a new coordinator, a lot of new faces, good receivers, good tight ends. Those guys have played. We've seen them on film. They have good running backs.
They're most experienced at the offensive line and the quarterback position and we're speculating there a little bit, too. Lynch is a big, solid, sturdy guy, so he's a running threat. I think he threw 20 balls total or the two years combined. I think he's about three‑out‑of‑four completion‑wise, but we'll have to wait and see.
Q. What is your assessment of the defensive line?
COACH FERENTZ: I think we're making progress. That's our most inexperienced group by far. I thought they progressed through the course of spring and now if you look at it, we get Dom back and Carl Davis. That's going to help us.
They're making progress. I think probably to contrast it to a couple years ago, I really would envision us playing six, seven, eight guys during the course of a game. I'm not sure we have somebody that can go out there and play 70, 75, 80 snaps right now. It's going to be a week‑by‑week process.
I like what I see. The guys are working hard. They got a good attitude. Steve Bigach has emerged as a leader in that group. Louis Trinca‑Pasat has done that in his own way. He's a younger guy, doesn't miss much. A tough‑minded guy. Those two guys and getting Dom back helps us. The younger players moving along. Joe Gaglion is a senior who has been injured a long, but has done a good job as well.
It's going to be a collective effort, but we're making progress.
Q. Did you realize putting your starting lineup together that all five were from the state of Iowa?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, I think somebody brought it up during the summertime. That wasn't our intention, but it's not a surprise. We've had a lot of good linemen. We're excited to see how these guys perform as well.
Q. Four true freshmen in the two‑deeps. How many others are going to play?
COACH FERENTZ: The four guys we list will play, Connor the punt, the two backs, Buford we plan on playing him. A couple guys we're treading water with. But right now you can count on seeing those four guys unless something happens.
Q. What impressed you about Kevin Buford in fall camp?
COACH FERENTZ: He's just done a good job. BJ was out for a couple days, it moved Greg up and gave him more of a chance to play a little bit. We liked him in recruiting. Like him even more now. He's got a good ability, great attitude, very positive young guy, works hard. Still has a lot to learn. But I think he'll do a good job for us.
Q. Freshman receiver on the depth chart, he’s sort of broken through. What’s his story, Hillyer?
COACH FERENTZ: Jake, he and Don Shumpert were quietly improving at the end of spring last year. I don't think anybody was really ready to sign off on them at that point. Over the last three weeks I think both those guys have really shown us a lot more than they did maybe previously. They're hardly there yet. They're both young players game experience‑wise. But I think they're on the right track right now. I'll throw Jordan Cotton in, too. He has flashed at times, but this was by far his best three weeks of practice as a Hawk‑Eye. He made some better catches this camp. But again, he hasn't played a lot.
That's like a lot of our guys right now. I think we have some potential, but how we react to game situations is different. We're on the road on top of it. It's going to be a little bit unique. Hopefully they can handle the activities this weekend. We'll see.
Q. You have a couple of walk‑on linebackers that flashed in camp. What did you see out of them? Are they scholarship guys now?
COACH FERENTZ: Not yet. Both guys worked hard first and foremost. Quinton missed some time practice‑wise, so it's a jump ball right there. If something would happen to James, I'm not sure who the first guy would be in anyway. Maybe somebody else, or Hitchens or Kirksey. Travis started making his move in the spring. He did a nice job. We think he'll be a really good special teams player. He's done a good job at linebacker. I'm not going to throw him in the Grant Steen category because it's premature at this point. At this point it's a little bit like that. He's a guy that's really impressed us with the way he practices, works. Extremely conscientious. Just kind of interesting. We heard so many great things about him during recruiting a couple years ago, and pretty much everything that anybody said with him has really come to fruition. That's what we're seeing from him in all walks of his life. He's done a great job.
Q. Special teams. Are they ready to go?
COACH FERENTZ: Hopefully we get off the rollercoaster. We've been on a little bit of a rollercoaster. That's one of our goals. There's going to be some in the punting game. Probably no different than when Eric Guthrie started a year ago, Donnie four or five years ago. Basically all our guys, you have some ups and downs there. It turned out pretty well for those guys. We think Connor has that kind of potential to end up being a really good player.
I go back to last year with Eric Guthrie. Great stories on our team last year. That part is a little bit of a variable right now. Certainly with Mike Meyer, he's kind of ramped up his game. Marshall Koehn right behind him as improved as well. Feel good about that. Casey Kreiter is an excellent deep snapper for us. Reassuring to have him back for a couple years.
On the return game, we are anxious to see Micah Hyde be our punt returner, and on the kick return game we will probably use several different guys. Hopefully we can get a little bit of spark there depending whether or not we get an opportunity to return it. They moved the ball up a little bit, so I think some of those returns will get cut out.
Q. What was it about playing Northern Illinois in Chicago that made you want to take your program there again?
COACH FERENTZ: It seems from our vantage point it's a win‑win situation. Our fans seemed to enjoy it and embraced it, which is good. It's, I don't want to say a convenient game, but at least it's a lot better than going to the West Coast in my mind. We can get on a bus and have a fairly predictable outcome what time we're going to get there, fairly predictable outcome coming home. It will be well before midnight with some luck. That part is good.
You're playing in a pro stadium which is exciting to players. I think they like that opportunity just based on some of the bowl games we've played in pro stadiums. To me it just makes sense.
I think the big thing is we don't want to do it every other year, wear off the novelty. Our fans respond to it. I think Northern feels the same way.
Q. How concerned are you about playing surface?
COACH FERENTZ: We'll play whatever is there. If it's a parking lot, we'll play there. Last time we were there, it was a little bit hard, to say the least. There's nothing we can do about it. We'll play on whatever is there.
Q. Do you do anything in practice this week as far as preparing them for that?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, we've been off our grass fields mainly because of the heat this summer. It was a new field in May. We want to get on the grass. We've been kind of off it the last couple weeks, give it a chance to get rooted in. We'll be on it Tuesday and Wednesday, that will be it.
I doubt our field will be as hard as it was five years ago. Hopefully the field this year won't be as hard as it was five years ago. If it still is, we'll still play.
Q. Can Carl Davis do things at his size that maybe others can’t?
COACH FERENTZ: The closest thing we have probably had, correct me if I'm wrong, Collin Cole is probably the biggest guy we had in there. Carl is a pretty athletic guy. Like any new player, it's a matter of playing with his technique. You still have to play with technique even though you're bigger. Part of that is pad level. I think that's a challenge for any younger player, playing with the technique they know they have to play with, that's one of the challenges, then playing with consistency.
He's a hard guy to move if he keeps his pads down. Hopefully that will work to our benefit. We're excited about him. I think he's got a good future.
Q. Brought in a couple true freshmen that are bigger. Would you like a bigger defensive line?
COACH FERENTZ: You know, it's not necessarily by design. We just don't have the option necessarily of picking the guys we want all the time. You know, we feel really good about getting Faith Ekakitie and Jaleel Johnson here. I think they're going to be good players in their own right. If it works out that’s right, that's great.
If there are a couple Karl Klugs available, we'll take them, Matt Krouls, Mitch Kings, all those guys have been productive in their own way. That's the thing, getting the player to a level where they can go out and perform like those guys have done.
Q. After all the work you've done, now that it's here, game week, can you tell the increased level of excitement amongst the coaches and players?
COACH FERENTZ: I haven't seen the players since Sunday. I think they had a little better step. Saturday was really our first day off since we got going where we didn't see each other. That's always healthy. I think all of us were ready to transition. If you ask the players, they were probably ready two weeks ago, maybe three weeks. Pre‑season gets old. It's a lot of the same stuff, 1‑2. So it's a tough road.
Yeah, I think everybody will be certainly excited. Hopefully today when they walk in here, there will be a little different vibe. I guess last Monday we were off, too. So I lied. That was our second day off, Saturday. We're used to not being together on Mondays.
Today is officially game week. We'll be into a different mode of operation, which is good. We were talking about it upstairs. It always feels like it takes forever to get to the first one. Once you're here it's going to be a blink and we'll be done. Just one of those phenomena.
Q. Many of your Big Ten contemporaries are going against big teams like Boise State, Alabama. Is that something you would ever consider doing right off the bat?
COACH FERENTZ: I'm comfortable with what we're doing. I think we're on the right track. Scheduling has always been the challenge, seems like it has. I think it's going to continue to be one. I'm comfortable with what we're doing.
Q. Tommy Donatell has had an odyssey of a career. What do you hope to see from him this year?
COACH FERENTZ: Tommy has done a great job. Doesn't get talked about an awful lot. Last year he helped us out at linebacker. He's a guy that was a high school quarterback. That was his strength. He went through a couple knee injuries. Gray‑shirted him his first year here. The only reason he came here, I don't want to misquote, speak for Tommy, but Matt Bowen and Aaron Kampman were playing for us. Up in Green Bay that's where it all got started. Interesting that a guy from Atlanta would choose to walk on. Those guys made an impression on his dad and also on Tommy.
He's worked very hard. He's a very conscientious guy. Improved with everybody opportunity. He's been like a lot of our success stories, with every year he's gotten better. Works hard, goes about his business in a real positive way. Has been a great team member. I'm really hopeful that he'll have a great senior year. I think he's very excited about it.
Q. You talked a little bit about redshirt freshmen. If you factor those kind of guys into who you see potentially playing, then add people in other classes who maybe haven't played a snap, what is the actual game experience level of this team in your mind compared to some of your other teams?
COACH FERENTZ: I haven't tracked it exactly just for obvious reasons, I don't think I want to know the answer to that. I think Steve said this is our youngest team in terms of senior class, how many senior starters we have, which is kind of interesting if you think about it over 14 years.
But at the same time we have guys like James Morris or Christian Kirksey. We have juniors that are capable of playing like seniors and acting like seniors, which is important, too. The seniors that may or may not start, they've done a great job. They're totally in. They've done a great job off the field as well. They're giving us a good leadership base as well.
We feel like this team can be successful. With that being said, we know how inexperienced we are. We know every step is going to be a little bit of an adventure. That's starting this week getting on a bus taking a little road trip, different than playing at home, playing an opponent in a strange stadium that is a dangerous opponent.
Every step is going to be an adventure and every step hopefully will be a learning experience. We feel like we have the potential to have a good football team. We have to maximize our opportunities. How well we can do that will determine how well the season goes.
Q. This being a young team, do you think this is a good lesson for them right out of the gate?
COACH FERENTZ: I wouldn't object to it being at home and going there next week. It raises the level a little bit more. The biggest focus is Northern Illinois. They're a good football team. They've beaten Big Ten teams in recent history. There's no saying it couldn't happen again this week. That's our number one thing, is focusing on them. Doing that as well as trying to play our best. Those two things are the things that are prominent in our thoughts right now.
Q. Will this week’s practice decide who starts at strong safety?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, we'll see how it goes. We'll see how it goes. We're comfortable with either guy. I think whoever ends up getting the start, both will probably play some and they'll both play on special teams.
Q. What did Connor Kornbrath show you right away? Feels like you made that decision fairly early at camp.
COACH FERENTZ: It wasn't necessarily set in stone. I think that the we've had two public practices. The second one he got the majority of the reps that day. We wanted to see what he'd do.
But basically we chart those guys like we chart everybody else. Probably easier to chart punters and kickers than a right guard or something like that.
Right now we just feel like he gives us our best chance. That's kind of the decision we made.
Q. Are you eager like the fans to see how the pieces fit together?
COACH FERENTZ: Eager and uncertain, that's a good way to put it. It's like that every season. You're always anxious, excited, but anxious. I think that's probably where we're at right now. I'm sure Northern feels the same way. Their guys are ready to get on the field and see where things are at a little bit.
It's going to be interesting. But that's why you work. That's why you practice. Now we'll see how things start to come together. It's going to be 13 weeks, a bye week in there, but we'll learn every week for sure.
Q. What do programs like Northern Illinois do that make them continually successful?
COACH FERENTZ: It starts with recruiting. Coach Novak did a great job of giving them stability. I always felt it was a sleeping giant type program, if you will, because they had their ups and downs for a while. From my vantage point, at least when Coach Novak went there, they did a nice job of recruiting the area. Tulsa comes to mind. We were talking about Tulsa a little while ago. I think they've done the same thing.
Chicago, there's a lot of good players in the state of Illinois, a lot of good players that maybe get overlooked in some ways. They did a good job of doing that. They've also supplemented their roster with players from around the area. Most important, they've been well‑coached, whether it's Coach Novak, Coach Kill, now Coach Doeren has done a good job there as well. It's a good program.
That's one thing about the MAC Conference, there are good teams there. Look at what they've done in bowl games. Certainly that's indicative I think of the kind of football they play. It's a good conference.
It's interesting. I haven't followed to close recently, but when I got here, look at the quarterbacks from that conference versus just about any conference, you think about Roethlisberger, guys down at Marshall, pretty good players come out of that league.
Q. Opposing coaches have said about Iowa, we know what the Hawkeyes are going to throw at us, it's just a matter of stopping them. But with two new coordinators that's not going to be the case this season. Do you look at that as a pretty big advantage?
COACH FERENTZ: Yes and no. Yes and no. They know, but they don't know. Vice versa. You really don't know what the mix is going to be. In general, in terms of identity, everybody goes through that a little bit in the first game, there's always that uncertainty. We're looking at the same thing with them. Speaking of excellent coaches. They have Coach Doeren back, who is really an offensive coordinator, and he knows us pretty well. It's going to be an interesting matchup that way.
Never quite sure what's going to happen in the first game, what you're going to see. These guys do a lot of things on special teams that give you headaches, a lot of preparation things there, too.
I don't feel it will play to our advantage or not. There's a little bit of that with everybody.
Q. How similar schematically is their defense from when Doeren was at Wisconsin and you faced them?
COACH FERENTZ: It's similar, it's fair to say. There's a fair amount of carryover. I wouldn't say carbon copy, but fair amount.
Tom Donatell Video
James Ferentz Video
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Freshman offensive lineman Ryan Ward has been added to the University of Iowa’s 2012 Leadership Group. Ward becomes the 15th member of the group for the upcoming season.
The group includes five seniors, four juniors, three sophomores, two redshirt freshmen and Ward as a first-year freshman. The purpose of the group is to help formulate policies and enter into team decision-making matters regarding the program.
Ward (6-foot-5, 275 pounds) is a native of New Lenox, Ill., and attended Providence Catholic HS. He was named an Army All-American while earning first team all-state honors as a prep senior and served as a team captain.
Along with Ward, the Leadership Group includes seniors DL Steve Bigach, DB Greg Castillo, OL James Ferentz, DB Micah Hyde and QB James Vandenberg; juniors LS Casey Kreiter, LB James Morris, FB Brad Rogers, and OL Brett Van Sloten; sophomores WR Kevonte Martin-Manley, OL Brandon Scherff and LB Quinton Alston; and redshirt freshmen OL Austin Blythe and QB Jake Rudock.
The Hawkeyes open the 2012 season Saturday, facing Northern Illinois at Soldier Field in Chicago (2:32 p.m., ESPNU). Iowa opens the home season Saturday, Sept. 8 against Iowa State (2:30 p.m., BTN).