It’s kind of hard to believe the Iowa football season is coming to a close. Not only has this season flown by, we’ve been let down once again by our beloved Hawkeyes. Sure we have that nice little drubbing to Ohio State, but something tells me that will be an afterthought in the book that is the 2017 Iowa football season.
ANYWAY, Kirk Ferentz met with the media before the team travels to Nebraska for its Black Friday game. Per usual, he said very little. Let’s get to my Freudian-esque over-analysis.
Good afternoon. So before I talk about this week's game, just go backwards here for a few minutes and just first thing, anytime we lose a football game, disappointing loss.
The point I always make to the team is it's shared ownership. We all have ownership in it. Players, coaches, everybody alike.
So that's really the way it goes. And a couple of things we've known since summer and really forever, for us to be successful, our veterans have to play their best football.
And certainly the newcomers have to step up and do their absolute best and learn as we go along.
As coaches, we have to put our players in good position to win. And that's really how the whole formula works. So that's looking backwards. And as you look forward we have two ball games left. That's where we're at right now as a football team.
So obviously what we have to do is get our veterans to lead us, get our younger guys to continue to improve and then we've got to give them a plan that gives them a chance to go out and have success on the field.
I normally don’t like to include Ferentz’s opening statements in entirety in these things, but this, to me, sounds an awful lot like some backtracking from our ball coach. A lot has been written here and elsewhere about Kirk blaming execution and little else to every single loss his team suffers.
So. “Shared Ownership.” Does it still sound like a cop out? A little. He also mentioned it’s his job to put his team in the best position to win. I think there’s been multiple times this season alone where anyone can see that hasn’t been the case with this staff — Ferentz even unknowingly admits to doing so later on in this very presser.
This is all to say — the above is all word vomit. Nothing will change with this football program with the guy doing Tuesday press conferences at the helm. These little meetings with the media are just a service to us and them, and not Kirk Ferentz’s Hawkeyes.
Q. This week in practice, are you confident you'll play better this week?
So far. We've had two good full days, a little different schedule, jump into it a little faster more in depth than a normal week. The pace is expedited a little bit, but we're assisted a little bit too because the guys aren't in school. We had a little bit more meeting time before practice yesterday and today.
At least to introduce the things instead of doing it on the fly. So it all balances out. And this time of year I don't think that's an issue. But the most important thing is, on the field, you know what they're doing, how they're moving around. I thought their spirits were good yesterday. I thought our execution was better today than yesterday. And that's a positive.
I only bring this exchange out because 1. that’s probably one of the better questions I’ve seen from a reporter this year and 2. because that’s another lesson from KF on a total non-answer. Bonus points from trotting out that “E” word again. Next year we’re going to blackout a bunch of random words on theses things and make you guess where he says “execution.”
Q. When things are degrading, not going well, how do you spend your 24 hours after a game?
After the game? You probably don't want to know. It's not very dramatic. What I'm doing is not very -- it's pretty nondescript. What I'm thinking you don't want to know. We all have dark moments. It's usually always the worst after anything doesn't go well.
Just a quick reminder that Kirk Ferentz may in fact be human and experiences high highs and low lows.
Q. When you go up against eight, nine, maybe 10 guys in the box is one play called and run into a brick wall or can something be done differently?
Every situation is a little different. There are some situations where we have run/pass flexibility.
There are others where we're going to run the play regardless. Just depends on the situation. So every play is a little bit different. And hopefully we're getting into good run plays trying to avoid dead plays. We've always tried to do that. Run or pass, try to get out of a dead play. Sometimes it has to do with protections or the look that you're getting, the overloading. But there are some situations where you run it and go with it.
Iowa will continue to run against 8 men in the box, in case you were wondering. Kind of reminds me of this cute poster I saw in Key West a few months ago:
The definition of insanity is yada yada snoooooooort.
Q. You've been blessed in the last handful of years having some really good punt returners, King, Micah Hyde. I don't remember you struggling with the punt return like you have this year. What's the issue there? Are you considering putting in someone else?
Two thoughts on that. We probably should have gotten to King there faster, took us a while to figure that out. Probably one of the better things we did probably, wished we'd done it sooner, in retrospect. To that point it's almost like if you look at either end of the punting game, we're not consistent with our punting right now and fielding the punt, returning the punt, we're not doing that well enough either. We're open to that and considering that.
This is where Kirk inadvertently admits to not putting his team in a position to succeed as I noted above. I think we all probably saw that Matt VandeBerg was the best option as the punt returner in the Wyoming game. Why he ever lost that job to Josh Jackson a week later, only to win it back, will be one of the great mysteries of this season. And that’s not even going into putting Desmond King back there earlier, because that’s ancient history now.
- It doesn’t look like Amani Hooker is playing this week. “[H]e still hasn't responded the way we had hoped. So I can't envision him playing.”
- No former Pitt players or walk-ons or players from the Hayden Fry years were mentioned this week. Drink!
- The punting situation is still a disaster. Kirk dodged a question or two about that, while still managing to disparage Ron Coluzzi at the same time. “I was reminded, watching the Wisconsin game from a year ago, how inconsistent he was in that ballgame.”
- KF fully expects to establish the run game against a Nebraska team that’s given up over 900 yards of offense the last three weeks. Of course, it will come down to A. “how the zone read is working,” B. “What Tim Polasek fed his offensive line this past week,” or C.
- I realize the above is very negative and somewhat of an overreaction to a menial press conference. Whatever. I have a cold, I’m over this football season, Iowa basketball is also a mess, it’s easy to be negative and I have editorial permissions and you don’t. I also don’t think any of the above is very unfair or untrue, either. Fight me in the comments.
Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone! If you haven’t already, go and download our podcast and listen to our bad Iowa basketball and Thanksgiving dish takes.