Dear Hawkeye State: BULLS--T

I see you spent about 4,000 words parsing the Kirk Ferentz presser, Mr. State. That's fine. If you want to do so, however, please remember that you are doing so as an agent of BHGP, which means there are certain standards of journalistic integrity to which we hold ourselves [since when?--ed.].

In the future, please refrain from being so transparently biased in your choice of words to call attention to. The quote, with your emphasis:

Q:  What is your approach at quarterback? What do you want to see from Jake? Is it almost a healing process for him?

FERENTZ: I don't think so. He was a young guy who played a little young....I think given all of the circumstances last season, not that he couldn't have performed better, but we didn't have a lot of support out there. It probably would have been a better situation to have him out there with the 2002 offense that we had. It just didn't work out. I don't want to over-react, but with that being said, like every player on our team when you go back and look at the films, there are a lot of things that are correctable and things that we can do better. I think Jake would be right there with a lot of players and it will be important that he improves his performance and a lot of things that he can do better, footwork, reads, and what have you. The one thing that I was impressed with were the intangibles that he demonstrated consistently throughout the year. He is a guy who really works hard and is very serious about what he does. The questions is will this be the Matt Rogers story? I keep going back to that one because I was here in 1989 when Matt really struggled and again, a lot of similar circumstances I think. That story turned out pretty well and I am hoping that is the case, but we will have him compete with the other guys just like we do at every position.

Q: Could he be seriously pushed by anyone here now, like Stanzi or McNutt?

FERENTZ: We will give those guys that opportunity. It is like every position, outside of running back and cornerback where I think some newcomers are going to have to help us. Not necessarily start, but be in our two deep or three deep. It is really going to be difficult for a freshman quarterback to come in and play, but if they can then we will given them that opportunity. For the three guys on campus, it is their job to keep improving. It would have been nice to see them in December, but we didn't get that chance. It will be interesting to see how that goes and we will let them all compete this spring.

You, for some reason, interpreted the entire statement as a giant middle finger to the fans, because if there's anybody who's petty, vindictive, and stubborn, it's Kirk Ferentz. Right. Now, just for the sake of let's say intellectual curiosity, let's take a second look at his statements. Allow me to provide emphasis.

Q:  What is your approach at quarterback? What do you want to see from Jake? Is it almost a healing process for him?

FERENTZ: I don't think so. He was a young guy who played a little young....I think given all of the circumstances last season, not that he couldn't have performed better, but we didn't have a lot of support out there. It probably would have been a better situation to have him out there with the 2002 offense that we had. It just didn't work out. I don't want to over-react, but with that being said, like every player on our team when you go back and look at the films, there are a lot of things that are correctable and things that we can do better. I think Jake would be right there with a lot of players and it will be important that he improves his performance and a lot of things that he can do better, footwork, reads, and what have you. The one thing that I was impressed with were the intangibles that he demonstrated consistently throughout the year. He is a guy who really works hard and is very serious about what he does. The questions is will this be the Matt Rogers story? I keep going back to that one because I was here in 1989 when Matt really struggled and again, a lot of similar circumstances I think. That story turned out pretty well and I am hoping that is the case, but we will have him compete with the other guys just like we do at every position.

Q: Could he be seriously pushed by anyone here now, like Stanzi or McNutt?

FERENTZ: We will give those guys that opportunity. It is like every position, outside of running back and cornerback where I think some newcomers are going to have to help us. Not necessarily start, but be in our two deep or three deep. It is really going to be difficult for a freshman quarterback to come in and play, but if they can then we will given them that opportunity. For the three guys on campus, it is their job to keep improving. It would have been nice to see them in December, but we didn't get that chance. It will be interesting to see how that goes and we will let them all compete this spring.

The single most consistent message of those two answers is not "Jake Christensen is not going anywhere and I'm a big doodie-head," but "he must improve, and other guys are competing with him for the job." Period.

I'm not saying JC should be written in at #1 in pen, but neither is Ferentz. KF is merely acknowledging that the problems on offense included but went far beyond what Christensen did at QB.

(After the jump, I call HS on his crap, and rational debate ensues...)

HS: So, do you think Ferentz is really thinking about changing quarterbacks?
OPS: I take him at his word when he says Jake has to show improvement and the freshmen will have the opportunity to compete for the job.
I don't think he's very optimistic, but come on, Chuck Long would have hardly been better back there.
HS: I agree that a majority of the problems last year weren't his fault. That line absolutely killed him.
But the whole "I think it is going to be very difficult for a freshman quarterback to come in and play" is a direct shot at the McNutt rumors.
He was asked the question on Stanzi/McNutt, and his response was "they'll be in the 3-deep."
Now, if I'm misreading it and he's talking about Wienke/Vandenberg, then maybe he's looking, but I don't think that's the case.
OPS: Keep in mind it's awfully early in the spring practice session. I'm sure he won't be moving the depth chart around without seeing all his guys work with the top unit.
But he's telling recruits that the offense works best with a dual-threat QB like Banks. Uh, who's the only one on the roster like that?
HS: Absolutely, and that's what he was getting at with the "I wish I could have seen them in December" line.
As for the dual-threat thing, he's saying that to some recruits, then he's bringing in another QB who left Michigan specifically because he's not a dual threat.
If that's really what he thinks - and I agree completely with that - then Stanzi might have gotten some PT last year.
OPS: He's bringing in as many quarterbacks as humanly possible. What makes you think he's that hard up for 5 backups for JC?
You can't tell me Ferentz saw what happened behind center last year and said, "perfect!"
HS: No, and I don't think he's saying that. I do think he's saying the problems weren't Jake's fault, and nobody else on the roster is as good.
OPS: You're making an awfully big leap on that last part.
HS: Really? "It probably would have been a better situation to have him out there with the 2002 offense that we had. It just didn't work out."
OPS: That's the reality of the situation!
HS: I'm not saying it isn't!
But I think he's pinning the problems mostly on the other guys.
And, as I said below, that might very well be true. It could be the line's fault.
OPS: Well, he makes several references to the other guys being given the opportunity to compete for the job. I have to take him at his word there.
He went through 3 QBs in 1999 and 2000, and two in 2001 (not including Beutjer, who was told to go fuck himself).
HS: "We will give those guys [McNutt and Stanzi] that opportunity....Not necessarily start, but be in our two deep or three deep." That's pretty obvious.
OPS: We're interpreting "not necessarily start" in two different ways, I think.
I see a chasm of difference between that and "no."
HS: He went through a lot of quarterbacks early on, and then he gave that up after McCann got booed (despicable, to be sure) because Banks wasn't getting more snaps.
OPS: I don't think he gave that up because of the fans.
HS: No, I think he gave it up because of his quarterback's psyche.
OPS: I think he did because he had a stretch of Banks, Chandler, and Tate. All of whom were clear #1s.
It's more a case of the personnel dictating the scheme than you're giving him credit/blame for.
HS: Believe me, I'd love it if personnel dictated the scheme now.
OPS: And what, pray tell, leads you to believe that Stanzi or McNutt is any better than Christensen?
Who, I might remind you, was the #6 QB in his class.
HS: Absolutely nothing, but who is to say they shouldn't get a shot when the offense is worse than inept?
OPS: If they're not ready, then they're not ready. I don't think that will be an issue this year.
And if the offense stays as it was in 07, Christensen will not stay at the helm.
HS: Honestly, up until yesterday, I thought McNutt was going to get the nod because of what KF had told recruits and the post-WMU practices. After Indiana, he'd made his decision, but the season was already lost, so why burn MM's redshirt? Nelson was immature, Stanzi simply isn't good enough, so take your lumps.
Now, I honestly believe he's putting MM at second string barring some sort of miracle performance, and he's convinced another year of development in the o-line and receivers will take the offense to competence.
OPS: Are you certain that "another year of development in the o-line and receivers" will not, in fact, "take the offense to competence"?
When that's precisely what happened with Matt Rogers? [sic]
HS: I think it will help, but the damage might already be done to Christensen. I know I'd have a hard time coming back and trusting the guys around me when I was constantly knocked on my ass, couldn't get a receiver to run a route or catch the ball, and was the source of a year's worth of criticism from the fans. Also, I have no faith in Morgan doing anything with the line (and I know you agree with me on that).
OPS: Agreed completely. I was very disappointed to see that he wasn't moved out of that role. He's nowhere near as good as Philbin was.
Well, if JC's confidence is indeed damaged (wouldn't surprise me), what good would it do if KF started out spring by tossing him under the bus? Why not spread the blame around and let him know that he's got work to do but it's not unheard of for him to have a great year in 2008?
HS: Of course, if KF realizes it's the source of the offensive problems, maybe he'll step in and work with the line more himself. We can hope.
OPS: He has to see that the line was the big liability last year. He must.
(this is more a plea to God than a statement of fact)
HS: Of course he does, and he'd be a fool not to. He may be stubborn, but he's definitely not stupid.
There's a big difference between keeping your quarterback's confidence up and telling the media that the backups will remain just that. He trots out the "they'll all compete" line, but when asked the direct question, he says McNutt and Stanzi are competing for lines #2 and #3.
OPS: No, I disagree with that analysis. When he says "not necessarily start," I think he's saying "Christensen has not been demoted," not "JC UBER ALLES"
But if you don't think McNutt and Stanzi will see significant time with the 1st string (and god help JC if he twists an ankle) over the spring and summer, you're crazy.
He singled out Kroul, King, and Edds as starters, in no uncertain terms, by name. He didn't do that with Christensen.
HS: OK, I have to get lunch.
OPS: Pussy.

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