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KIRK SPEAKS: IOWA STATE AND ED CUNNINGHAM

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Ferentz met with the assembled media during HATE WEEK to address the Cyclones and the Outback Bowl.

NCAA Football: Wyoming at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another press conference. While Kirk didn’t say anything as crazy as Mike Leach this week (HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS LINK), he did have some interesting things to things to say. As always, here’s the full text.

Depth Chart Updates

The Monday depth chart is more often a reflection of where the game ended Saturday than where it begins the week, so it’s good to see James Daniels at center and interesting to note Alaric Jackson is still the number one LT. Ferentz touched on a lot of the lineman:

[Daniels] had a good day today. So we are hoping, you know, makes it through the week and is ready to go.

[...]

We'll play Boone at guard and tackle. We're comfortable playing all of those guys. As long as Boone can go, he's still a really good football player in our mind. ... Having him out there makes us a better team whether it's guard or tackle.

Alaric has done a really nice job, so we're pleased with his growth and development. The good thing about having guys injured, I guess is hopefully you develop some guys that get some depth and experience. Ross Reynolds got some good experience the other day. Keegan playing center was good for him in the long run. We'll all feel better if we get our guys back in the right chairs and full speed.

There’s been some interesting debate in the comments here, but I’m liable to give Iowa a slight break when it comes to line play in the first game. In my view, Daniels is the most important player on the line - his experience, athleticism, and mind are a unique combination - so I’ll harbor judgement until he suits up. But, if injuries nag him throughout the season, there is certainly debate as to how helpful he is. Availability is the best ability after all.

Iowa State

Kirk was very complimentary of the Cyclones, specifically their offense. He noted the challenge Iowa will have with the size outside with Allen Lazard and Hakeem Butler - “Those two guys you just mentioned would be a good start to a basketball team.”

The difficulty Iowa will have is the difficulty Iowa always has: playing linebackers in coverage:

They have a good group, a good core of receivers, but it's more than two guys. So we're all going to have to do a good job and that includes our linebackers, again. You have Ben Niemann out in coverage quite a bit and they will get Bo [Bower] out there in coverage the way they do things. They are going to put some pressure on us. There's no question about that. That's their design.

In my first (and admittedly only) watch of the game, I was very impressed with Bower’s play. He seemed to be reacting in a way he had not in the past. Part is attributable to years in the system, where a next gear of athleticism can be untapped by removing thought from the equation. My eye test was backed up by Pro Football Focus’s all-Big Ten team, where he was the highest rated linebacker. Yes, even higher than The Outlaw.

Ferentz also went IN on the series. I would argue this is the most riled up I’ve seen him on the topic in his 28th involvement. Both major Iowa newspapers’ Hawkeye beat writers - Morehouse, Leistikow - took note in their roundups. Take a look for yourself:

Q. Where do you think that narrative comes from; that one side cares more than the other?

COACH FERENTZ: I kind of found it insulting in some ways. You know, it's almost like you don't care. That's really insulting to say to anybody that competes in anything.

I don't know, I guess I haven't jumped up and down. Have to do some jumping jacks or something, be a little bit more demonstrative out there. When you win, what you do is great. When you lose, not so great. I think it's just kind of part of that narrative.

And really, he should find it insulting.

Fans like me will never understand the blood, sweat, and tears which go into the 12 games we see each fall. We just won’t. I know a win or loss will always mean more to the players and coaches involved than to myself. It took me a long time to come to that self-awareness but it’s the truth. However, I recognize this fine line between fandom and team member is what makes college sports, specifically, so intoxicating.

For Ferentz to hear for 15-odd years he doesn’t care about the Iowa State game as much as Iowa State cares about the Iowa game, and see him finally take this stance... Well, it’s pretty awesome to hear.

Now, I’ll never expect him to install an annual countdown to the game or actually do jumping jacks, but I’m glad to see him kind of take ownership of the series. If he does, God help us.

Positional Rotation

  • Ferentz was pleased with the players who got in along the defensive line, noting it keeps them fresher. He was also pleased to see Sam Brincks make an impact. Just another diamond in the rough.
  • On the flip side, he would have preferred to get wide receivers a little more run. Pretty much three - Matt VandeBerg, Nick Easley, and Devonte Young - got all the snaps, save Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s end around.
  • He was also excited with what both tight ends showed and expects both TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant to improve week to week.

Outback Bowl

I’m hesitant to bring it up, but it was addressed both in Ferentz’s press conference and as a separate press release (below). Ferentz didn’t pull any punches (for him) with Ed Cunningham’s editorializing:

I'll just say real quickly, the thing I found to rub me the wrong way in that article.

And I did read the article, he kind of lumped us in with another situation that occurred and there was absolutely no comparison between the two incidents. I got back to Leftwich's moment where they carried him down the field. They threw a touchdown.

C.J. Beathard's career at Iowa was defined by mental toughness, that's what that kid is all about in my mind. ... With an outstanding medical staff that we have here, our medical people aren't going to let a player be out there at risk where he could really do harm. That's just how it goes, and they have got final say, they always have, always will. I listen to them and then we work with players.

You as a coach ... make the judgment, can he play, can he operate. And C.J. was clearly not at full strength, but he wasn't in 2015 either and played well.

And I listen to players, too, and C.J. wanted to be out there. That was my decision. You can second guess it. People can; Ed chose to. That's his prerogative, certainly, but I found it a little bit offensive quite frankly because he was not at risk medically and you know ... That's his opinion. That's mine. I just stated mine.

All I really have to say about it is, Ferentz is absolutely right there is a difference between putting someone out there with a quad injury and a concussion - which was Cunningham’s concern throughout much of the article. I disagree with Beathard’s playing because 1) I did not think he offered Iowa the best chance to win and 2) he was moving half speed and very well could have suffered a concussion from someone else moving full speed.

Ultimately, it’s in the past. Beathard had a nice preseason for the 49ers, Cunningham is onto greener pastures, and we’re continuing HATE WEEK.