Five things from Tuesday's HATE WEEK press conference:
1. That's so Ferentz. Earlier this week, USC coach Lane Kiffin notified reporters that he would not take any questions about the Trojans' quarterback situation, then held his own staged press conference with a university employee off-screen asking questions and -- this is the best part -- he refused to answer one of the questions in the scripted press conference.
If it weren't for Kiffin's hilarious attempt to avoid answering questions about his team, Kirk Ferentz would win Obfuscator of the Week for this quote:
Q. What similarities are there between Jake and Sam?
COACH FERENTZ: They're both quarterbacks, and they both start. One starts for them, one starts for us. But outside of that, I don't know. I mean, their guy is a good player. He's a really good player.
Yeah, it's going to be one of those press conferences.
2. Kirk Ferentz could not care less about Iowa State. Let's say you're Kirk Ferentz: Your team is 1-1 with a loss to Northern Illinois and a lackluster win over a I-AA patsy. Fans are losing interest, to the point where last week's game had the smallest home crowd in a decade. You haven't beaten Iowa State since 2010, and you hold only one of the team's four traveling trophies. Because you are a human being, you understand that winning rivalry games -- especially this game -- is important to keeping the fans onboard, and all you have to do is defeat a team that just lost to UNI.
So you would hype the importance of the game, no? No, apparently.
Q. I know you always want to beat these guys, but having lost to them the last few times you've faced them, does that kind of amp it up even more this week?
COACH FERENTZ: This is the 2013 season, and we're 1-1 right now, and we want to win every week. I mean, pretty simply, and I'm sure they feel the same way. They've got 11 opportunities left; we've got 10. They're awfully important, every game is awfully important.
Q. With the Cyclones coming out on top the last two times, is there something you've learned?
COACH FERENTZ: It's better to have more points than them at the end. That's what I've learned. I learned that about 15 years ago.
Q. What does this game mean for instate recruiting?
COACH FERENTZ: I'm not good at that. I know this, there is nothing about winning that hurts that I've found so far. When you win, it's good. So be it recruiting, how you feel, all that stuff, it's just a good thing. Then losing tends to go the other way.
Q. This probably means more to the players, but with it being such a long season, is there something to be said about something tangible like the Cy-Hawk Trophy?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, it stands for winning the game, so that is important. That's certainly important. If you get a chance to possess a trophy, that's a good thing. If there is one at stake, we want to get it just like I'm sure they do too. So certainly it's a tangible thing.
If Gary Barta is going to tell us that we can't have interesting non-conference games because the Iowa State game is just too important to the programs and the state, it would be nice if he informed his head coach of that.
3. Mike Malloy is still here -- for the moment. Rumors have swirled around running back Michael Malloy's status since last week. Malloy, who walked on last fall when his scholarship offer was revoked due to a run-in with the law, was widely considered a contender for playing time at halfback. Two weeks in, he hasn't seen the field and has been passed by true freshman LeShun Daniels. Message board chatter indicated that Malloy quit the team for a moment, but was talked out of it by Ferentz. That appears to be where the situation still stands:
Q. Is Mike Malloy still around?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, we'll keep you updated there.
So, there's smoke. Iowa is loaded at running back right now, so eventually losing Malloy wouldn't be the end of the world, but we all know how quickly that running back depth can go away.
4. "Dependability is more important than ability." Brendan Stiles at Hawkeye Drive caught this during interviews with players, after Ferentz was finished reading the phone book:
Prior to his team's game against the Buffalo Bills last weekend, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick raised some eyebrows across the NFL landscape when he revealed the Patriots having a mantra of "Dependability is more important than ability." In other words, it's not how physically capable one is of making a play, but rather can one be trusted to make that specific play.
"Coach [Greg] Davis loves that saying," sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock said. "He loves dependability more than anything and it's because you need to know guys are going to be in the right space at the right time. I think that is very important."
It's a thread that runs through personnel decisions in the Iowa program for years: Ferentz will give up raw athletic ability for a player who is in the proper position (see: John Lowdermilk over Nico Law). That it feeds back into Ferentz's Belichick thing only solidifies its importance.
5. Practice makes something. There's been an ongoing issue -- I don't want to call it a contradiction, but it certainly looks like one -- with how Iowa determines starters. Case in point: Don Shumpert, the senior receiver who has started the last two games despite his apparent lack of receiving ability:
Q. Does Don Shumpert show you something that kind of justifies you starting him?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, typically, we start the guys that do the best in practice. Right now it's been a close race between him and Tevaun. They both play. You just gauge it daily, gauge it weekly. We don't have many incumbents right now, so it's just a matter of competition and letting the guys work every day.
Which, OK, fine. Shumpert is a good practice player and we're just waiting for him to translate that to a game for the second consecutive season. Iowa rotates so much at wide receiver that the "starting" spot is little more than a paper honor, anyway. But when Ferentz and Davis were asked about the quarterback race this August, it was all about who played better in games (from Rick Brown at the DMR):
Game action will ultimately determine Iowa's starting quarterback.
"Live action tells you about who stands in and makes the throw into the teeth of the rush, who knows when to leave the pocket and make extra yardage," said Greg Davis, Iowa's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. "And you just can't tell that until they're live."
We know fairly well that Shumpert doesn't play particularly well in games, so all things being equal, shouldn't we give someone else a chance. I understand and appreciate loyalty to a senior, but his constant dropped passes are killing drives and costing you points. Take the points, coach.