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KIRK SPEAKS: Northwestern

Will Kirk’s team be ready for an important Big Ten West matchup?

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

The Iowa Hawkeyes defeated the Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday after two straight losses against Michigan and Penn State. And yet, a vast majority of Iowa fans aren’t happy about the state of this team, and it starts on the offensive side of the ball. The injuries continue to pile up as well, and the schedule only gets harder from here on out.

So what’s the solution? Well, let’s hear what head coach Kirk Ferentz has to say about it all. Check out the recap of yesterday’s press conference here.

Let’s get right into it with injury news.

KIRK FERENTZ: Injury front, Kristian right now still isn’t practicing, so we’ll have to see how that goes. I’m not overly optimistic there in that regard.

Didn’t put Brandon Smith on the depth chart yesterday. His injury right now looks like it’s going to take a couple weeks. We were optimistic maybe Sunday, Monday. We got a test yesterday, so I think it’s going to take a little while to get him back out on the field.

Not great, Bob! But a couple weeks for arguably Iowa’s most explosive receiver isn’t too bad, right?

Q. Do you think Brandon will be back by Wisconsin?

KIRK FERENTZ: I think we’re looking at probably three, four, five weeks probably ballpark. There’s no way to just say when. So wherever that puts us, that’s where it puts us. Looked like it might be a contusion, then kind of went south on us.

FIVE WEEKS IS A LOT LONGER THAN TWO WEEKS, COACH.

Q. How does the passing game change without Smith in the lineup?

KIRK FERENTZ: He’s obviously made some big plays for us ... His growth has really been fun to watch. He’s just developed every time out there. It’s taken one of our better threats off the field.

Q. Who do you look for to take Brandon’s reps?

KIRK FERENTZ: First thing we’ll do is shift Tyrone Tracy out there, he’ll start the game at that position. Ihmir will probably be the next man in at that position. Obviously we’ll juggle a little bit. Opens up some opportunity on the other side, other positions.

Q. Will Oliver Martin be more of a part of the offense at this point?

KIRK FERENTZ: Just do the math. He’s certainly been in the mix, is in the mix. Subtract one good player out of the mix, there’s more snaps available for everybody.

Everyone on Twitter yesterday focused on “in the mix” as the buzzword but I find the whole ‘do the math, he’s been in the mix’ part a bit strange. Aside from the first game of the year and getting a single target against Michigan, when is the last time Martin has “been in the mix?”

Q. You had a lot of experience at corner for right and wrong reasons. D.J. Johnson seemed to play well. The other day he didn’t get in. When he went to dime, Terry Roberts got in. Is D.J. healthy?

KIRK FERENTZ: He’s healthy, fine. Nobody is mad at him. He’s doing a great job.

It’s just every game is a little bit different. He’s certainly in the mix. He’s doing really well. No story there as far as I know.

Plot twist: you too are in the mix, dear reader.

Q. Did Hankins lose his job? Did Moss replace him?

KIRK FERENTZ: We’ll let him practice this week, make a decision. We weren’t necessarily planning on putting Riley in the other day. He did a good job. No sense taking him out. Kind of that way with every position.

Does this seem like Hankins did lose his job to anyone else, or is it just me?

Q. A.J. is playing a high volume of snaps this year. You talked about diminishing returns. Have you talked about maybe scaling him back, trying to keep him fresh?

KIRK FERENTZ: I normally don’t listen to the fan request line. There’s some a clamoring to get him out there and play more. I couldn’t risk that temptation. I told the guys, Let’s get him out there for 80 snaps a game.

He’s a more mature player than he was. We don’t have Parker Hesse over there either. I think that combination of everything, I don’t think it’s affecting him at all. I think he’s enjoying it, playing well. We’ll keep playing him.

Who’s asking for less Epenesa? Fatigue is not the issue, it’s the fact that he constantly draws double teams! Key word here is that Kirk normally doesn’t listen to the fan request line. Let me know what you think he’s utilized from the fan request line in the comments. Water tower, anyone?

And finally:

Q. TV timeouts...

KIRK FERENTZ: Go get a sandwich, run out and hit a convenience store, whatever. It’s awful. It’s just awful. But a lot of things have changed in 20 years that I would change back. That ain’t going to happen. Just learn to love it. How about killing momentum or the rhythm of a game, gosh.

Gosh, indeed.

Let’s get another win this weekend.