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KIRK SPEAKS: THE SPRING GAME

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We had some Ferentz-on-Ferentz action at yesterday’s presser

Iowa v Purdue Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Welcome back to us making mountains out of molehills in regards to Kirk Ferentz’s (or is it Ferentz’? There should be a style guide for that) press conferences.

But we won’t have just the words of Kirk to dissect this week! His son and brand spankin’ new offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, along with longtime defensive coordinator Phil Parker addressed the media as well. Let’s postulate:


So here we have Kirk giving his official stance on the news that the NCAA is adding a 10th coach to football teams after this season, along with the abolition of two-a-days. Here we go!

Last thing I'll touch on and open it up for questions. Some of the NCAA legislation that's gone through. It's really broken down in two segments and makes it very different. The recruiting legislation has been passed. I just want to go back and compliment everybody that's been involved. Conference-wide we've had a lot of discussion over the last several years about some of the legislation that went through. It didn't come out exactly the way maybe we had hoped it would be shaped as a Big Ten Conference. But for the most part, I think a lot of things were reflected in the conversation, the dialogue, and it was healthy. I've done this for a while now, it's probably been the most collaborative effort I think I've seen.

Then the two-a-day thing is probably the exact opposite. It's something that's been passed down, from my vantage point, zero dialogue of people that work in football, out on the field, that type of thing. I worry about that a little bit. So we'll adjust with it, we'll make it a positive certainly, but the removal of two-a-days, to me, personally is maybe a little short sighted.

Ferentz tracked back to the abolition of two-a-days in a later question, and added this gem of analysis in regards to concerns guys were getting worked too hard during two-a-days.

... It's not so much condition. Our guys are in great condition, they are because they train, which that was interesting years ago when they had the heat issues. One of the proposals was to take summer conditioning away. Well, that's a good idea. Okay, guys overweight, let's send him to the Dairy Queen. That's perfect. Good idea. Good suggestion.

Snoooooooooort


And here he is on the announcement of a December early-signing period. I bet he likes that! #Texodus

Q. You've always been an advocate for an early signing period. What, in your eyes, are the advantages for Iowa? And then also you've had players that you've gotten late that were previously committed to match schools like a Desmond King or Micah Hyde coming up that maybe you wouldn't get if they signed early?

Two things on that. First thing, my personal preference would be an earlier signing period than December. I'd like to see it pushed forward a little bit somewhere after the June period or just before September, somewhere in that ballpark.

But, yeah, that's one of the things to your point about that. We're going to learn as we go. How is that going to effect how you make decisions? Do you have to dig up Micah Hyde earlier and make a commitment to him earlier than later? Desmond King the same way. Those two guys right off the bat. We've had a lot of guys that way. Then, conversely, are the prospects willing to tread water a little bit? One thing for sure, things will be more clear after the December signing period we'll know where people stand in terms of really being committed as opposed to saying they're committed.

And you know an Iowa State series question was coming:

Q. The Iowa State series, are you happy about it being extended? Do you envision it going to an 11th Power Five opponent?

Not me personally. I don't get the final vote on that one either. I think playing ten is pretty representative. There are a lot of conferences that don't do that. I think one thing that's maybe underestimated by people that don't understand football really well, like, when we play out of state, it's a pretty intense game. At least it has been since I got back here. It wasn't when I left, but the last 18 years it's been a tough series. It's been a really tough series.

Both teams will probably tell you that. I don't want to speak for them. But it's an interstate rival. It's been a good rivalry. Teams are both playing at full speed out there. So you take that, plus nine conference games and what I would suggestion is one of the tougher conferences in football. I'm not embarrassed by that. I'll put that up against anybody.

I think all that stuff is a lot of rhetoric, personally. If we had Alabama's players, maybe we'd play 12 BCS teams, but they don't do it.

Oh that Alabama knock is JUICY.


Obligatory QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSY quote:

Q. Also, do you feel comfortable that all quarterbacks will be here next fall no matter how the competition goes?

Yeah. It's really close right now, and I see this thing going into camp, probably midway into camp before we have to make a decision. But if we had to do it right now, we'd be throwing darts.

And that’s it for Kirk. Let’s get in to what Brian had to say.

If you didn’t know, Iowa currently has seven tight ends on scholarship. Some might call that roster malpractice, some might call it Paul Johnson’s wet dream, who’s really to say?

Q. Seven scholarship tight ends but only three scholarship wide receivers, do you think about that?

Certainly, you do think about that. Really we have four; we have one guy who is on hiatus right now. But we have four on the roster, and again, that's a number.

That's a good question. It's a number we look at, and frankly, what we're trying to do at that position is build. It's kind of like the quarterback position. There are no incumbents. We're not married to anyone, and we're going to do what's best for Iowa football. What's best for Iowa football is great competition.

We're looking for guys to step up at the receiver position. If you put a gun to my head today, I would tell you our best receiver out there day-in and day-out at practice, obviously we know what Matt VandeBerg can do, but Nick Easley has done a nice job. He's not on scholarship, but he'll play, and he'll play more than maybe he even anticipated. Because we're looking for the guys that can go out there and do things the way we want them done, and I mean that 24 hours a day.

So we're trying to build there a little bit. The number is low. But based on where we're at that that position, I prefer the number to be low, frankly. Let's get some young guys in here, and go to work, and see who wants to be here and who wants to do things the Iowa way.

More Nick Easley mentions! What’s Iowa’s track record of success for a walk-on at the receiver position? Is Riley McCarron the gold standard?


Now ... I’m not totally certain what to make of this next exchange. Brian gets in to some football jargon, but then more less exposes a semblance of a philosophy, which is pretty much to say, Iowa is going to play its best players, and line up in a formation that suits the strengths of those players. Am I reading that right?

Q. The numbers you have at tight end and the younger talent, probably 40 percent of your plays the last few years have been 12 personnel, and Ohio State a few years ago you went 13, and really successful in that. Do you anticipate maybe the same type of personnel? Maybe 13 or 23 if you need to?

I don't know if it's 23. We haven't been too much of that in the field. Nebraska in '13, and Iowa State in '15, and both of those were close-out situations. As far as putting multiple tight ends on the field, we'd like to do that. I think football is a pretty simple game.

Whoever your best players are, you should probably play with them, right? I don't know much, but I remember being a player. We went over to Northwestern maybe in '01, and all week we just practiced a base defense. At that time, they were pretty unique because they were spread -- they would spread that floor open. They were out there, and they were chucking it around. We went over the base defense, and all week, Norm Parker is saying, hey, we're going to be fine. We're going to keep our best players on the field.

That was always a thing in the NFL. Why would you take off one of your best 11 to put on a lesser guy just to match personnel. So, offensively, it's the same thing. Let's keep our best players on the field. If that means we're going to have multiple tight ends or multiple tight ends and a fullback in the game or multiple half backs or whatever it is, let's make sure we're doing that.

Because at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is did we give the players the best chance they had to win the football game? Certainly having the best players on the field would be a good start. Absolutely. That means on third down, if it's 3rd and nine, and we have to have two tight ends out there, then we'll have two tight ends out there and make it work.

About 40 percent in 12, and I don't know what the exact numbers are. About 100% of our snaps, not quite, but when we had Jacob Hillyer, we fooled around with no tight-end snaps. But like 95 percent of our snaps, probably, in the last five years, there's been a tight end on the field. We're not in a hurry to take those guys off. If we can have more on, great.

We played with three tight ends in the bowl game some, too. So when we have the personnel available, we like to do it.

And now we’re on to Phil Parker, who said some nice things. Even with the departures of Jaleel Johnson and Desmond King I think this defense will damn good.

Q. A.J. Epenesa probably going to be at defensive end? Is that the case? Yeah, he's one of the top defensive ends in the country. One thing about it is you come in here and whatever the best fit for him when he gets here, we'll have to determine that. But I think when you look at him, he's got to come in and understand, first of all, what we call formations, personnel groupings on offense. What defense we're running, what techniques we're using. So he has a lot of things to learn and to ask a true freshman as a defensive lineman to come in, and, hey, you're going to be our starting defensive end and we're going to move you inside and play a three technique or one technique. I think that's a little too much right now.

But I think get him in here in the summer when we do have some time, get him in the weight room with Coach Doyle, and see how he progresses and see if we can catch him up to speed to make sure. If we can get 15, 20 plays out of him during the game, I think that would be, you know, very good if we can do that.

Here’s an update for the battle at safety following the Brandon Snyder injury:

Q. Gervase or Hooker, is it way too early?

I think it's way too early. I've seen them grow. I think Jake has done a good job at free safety. I think Amani Hooker is still young and still learning in the process of it and Jake has a couple years experience on him. He is an athletic guy, has the ability to go out and make plays. You have to mentally get him focused. He's the commander. He's the director. He has to control everything, and there are no excuses.

So as soon as we get his mentality up to where we need it, we'll have a better chance of playing a little bit more.

Obligatory Aaron Mends update!

Q. Where's Aaron Mends?

I think he's done a good job. He's moved up, but Jones is a little bit ahead of him right now in my opinion. I think Aaron Mends has the capability to help us in sub-packages. I think Aaron is more mental than physical.

And that’s that. What tea leaves did you read?