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KIRK SPEAKS: WISCONSIN

Development, Execution, Rinse, Repeat

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Iowa
“I’ve got a pizza ordered for you on your way back to Columbus.”
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Kirk Ferentz didn’t reference a line graph of success or address college mascots so it was an ordinary Tuesday as the Iowa head man addressed the press. Here’s the transcript. First, the new depth chart which is the same as the old depth chart:

  • Brandon Snyder is out for the season after Ferentz announced he re-tore his ACL. He doesn’t think the safety will receive a medical redshirt but praised him for his leadership: “it's rare when you see guys so involved and so active, and he's been tremendous that way.”
  • Punter remains a competition between Ryan Gersonde and Colten Ratstetter: “We'll just going back and forth, try to find a winning combination.”

And that’s it, really.

Development

It was pretty much the theme of the whole press conference which meant Kirk was at home. I was really interested to see what he had to say about Iowa’s dueling banjos at TE. Even though they’re both second-year players, they’ve taken different trajectories. With Noah Fant, Kirk really liked getting him in last year to acclimate him to the game:

So we saw him grow during the course of the year physically and just in terms of comfort, what have you, and I think that's carried over into the season. So his work on the field last year, even though it was pretty -- wasn't extensive, but I think it helped move him forward.

For T.J. Hockenson, he sat out last year but made an impression where he was afforded the opportunity - scout team and bowl prep:

[Hockenson] was a guy who was a little bit more raw when he got here. We really liked what we saw of him recruiting, not only on the football field, the basketball court. But last year he was on the scout team and caught our eye a bunch over there, too; saw him making a lot of plays against our defense, frustrating them at times.

[...]

The one question we had on T.J. really, first time we saw him, was we didn't know if he was a physical guy or not. He was playing more out-of-the-box, if you would, as a receiver and playing pretty deep on defense. And a good basketball player. But we didn't know if he had a feel for the physical part of it, and he certainly brings that aspect out there.

Hock has reminded me this year of George Kittle last year. Both were slightly undersized but certainly are not afraid of the brutish parts of football. There’s a reason he’s getting a ton of snaps this year.

Ferentz was also complimentary of Nate Stanley and Ken O’Keefe who’s been instrumental in Stanley’s development:

Yeah, I think Ken is a master teacher. He's an excellent teacher, and he can teach anything or any position. So yeah, I think a guy with his expertise, his wisdom, his demeanor to coach, he's very demanding, I know that, and I imagine Nate would tell you that and all the quarterbacks would tell you that.

Kirk also brought us back to when he offered Stanley a scholarship. If this doesn’t summarize his thoughts on recruiting, I’m not sure anything does:

I remember him coming to camp, and we really liked him. I sat down with he and his dad. I guess sometimes I'm too subtle; so they said, does he know that you offered him. I said, well, I think he does. So then I ran out to the car and said, oh, by the way, that was an offer, okay, just to -- I said, we want you, which to me that's what that means. If I say we want you, I mean we want you.

Anyway, I made sure we were clear on that point.

I’m glad he clarified.

Execution

It isn’t as simple as execution, but it is about believing in a plan and keeping with it. Kirk referenced that mindset in both the lead up to Ohio State and the season at large:

They had a good plan, and the team certainly went out, and that's as good as we've executed all season long. Those things were really pleasing. I've talked about execution pretty much just about every week, and it was obviously the best we've played in terms of cleaning things up, eliminating mistakes, and I thought the guys played with confidence, and it was not only our seniors but also even our true freshmen, redshirt freshmen.

[...]

It really gets down to your people and what you're doing, so the people involved and then what it is you're asking them to do. You know, maybe I'm an optimist, but I've always believed in our people and the people we have on the field right now, the people coaching them and what we're asking them to do. I believe in that. There's no guarantee it ever is going to push through or you're going to get up over the hill, and then once you do, there might be a bigger hill. It's kind of like, won a game Saturday, but we've got a bigger hill to climb this week.

The reason Kirk focuses so heavily on execution was also alluded to in the recruitment of Nate Stanley and Josey Jewell, two kids who prioritized other high school sports instead of “getting on recruiting sites:”

You want to make sure they know the fundamentals, but I'm telling you, what we do ain't that hard. It's pretty basic. The basics are the basics. But there's a lot of people making a nice living off [being “gurus”]. So God bless them, and good for them. We're a capitalist system, so I'm all for that.

To me, kids ought to just play. They ought to play sports. That's what he did. He played all three sports and competed, and you can't find a substitute for that, going out and competing.

Jokes

  • In the lead-up to the “guru” discussion, Kirk brought up Dallas Clark and Bob Sanders: “I don’t know if [they] had a guru.” And also said his advice for parents looking to save money was not to have a guru.
  • He also had a sorta veiled shot at Nebraska when referencing Wisconsin’s shift to the 3-4, emphasis mine: “I think it's really interesting, quite frankly. Because Barry passed it off to Bret, then Gary Anderson came in. Taking it even a step further, when Gary Anderson came in, they changed their defensive philosophy dramatically, and that was seamless, which I was a little skeptical of that watching from afar. But boy, right from game 1, they played it well.”

GO HAWKS. Better dead than red.