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KIRK SPEAKS: Penn State

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We’re onto Penn State.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Michigan Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

I said last week on this here blog that we would know a lot more about this Iowa Hawkeyes team come today after the team traveled to Ann Arbor to face Michigan last weekend, and oh boy, do we.

Iowa lost 10-3, and it sure wasn’t pretty. Let’s not re-live it (But if you hate yourself and want to re-live it, click here). Let’s just get right into what head coach Kirk Ferentz had to say about things heading into this weekend’s even more difficult matchup against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Full transcript here.

Things got started out on a somber note after the news of the untimely death of former running back Derrick Mitchell:

KIRK FERENTZ: I think all of us are really sorry to hear about Derrick Mitchell, It is my understanding he was involved in an accident, I think it was last Friday morning. You knew that was a tough circumstance. So it’s just a very tough thing, and way too young for something like that to happen. Certainly our condolences with his entire family and just a sad thing to relay.

Rest in peace, Derrick. Once a Hawkeye, always a Hawkeye.

Let’s talk offensive line:

Q. Looking at the offensive line, the offensive struggles, what needs to improve this week? Penn State will probably look at the Michigan tape.

HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: There’s no one magic answer. We didn’t play consistently enough ... The negative yardage plays are always going to affect you and part of that was our lack of execution, maybe part of that’s Michigan, being a really athletic, aggressive defensive team but that being said, we are looking at the same kind of opponent this week ... We are going to have to hopefully have a little tighter plan maybe and be a little bit tighter with our technique and a little better, more cohesive in our play.

Q. Protection Saturday, what happened?

HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: First of all, it wasn’t one position. We had line sacks. We’ve had backs not pick up, or pick up well enough ... Then there’s some plays there, maybe the ball should have come out a little quicker, too. So it’s a mix of things.

Bottom line is we weren’t in a rhythm. We didn’t get our tempo the way we want to and that’s a challenge when you play a team that’s a really good defensive football team. That’s the thing, we have to be a little more precise, a little quicker, just a little bit better.

I’d appreciate more than ‘a little better’ play against the No. 10 team in the country...

Q. Tyler is on the depth chart this week. Does that mean anything? And Ivory is off; does that mean anything?

HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: Just watch what we’ve been doing, right, Goodson has been getting a lot of work. He has done a good job. We are not disappointed with Ivory, either.

If this means more carries for Tyler Goodson, I’m all for it. He was pretty much the only offensive bright spot in the running AND receiving game last Saturday.

Q. Nate’s had to get off the mat a few times in the past after rough performances by the offense as a whole. How has he grown, and has his demeanor changed in the two years, since maybe the Wisconsin game a couple years ago?

HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, first of all, certainly, he’s a more experienced, older, more confident and complete football player, which you would expect for anybody at any position ...

We came away with a disappointing day, but can we get back up and go to work and move forward. It’s a 12-game season ... You don’t want it to happen but if it does happen ... what’s your response going to be. That’s where we are all focused right now.

I’m confident he’ll play well. Hopefully we can play well around him and look better offensively.

I hope so too, because last weekend was about as bad as I’ve seen Stanley play in his time in the black and gold, and they’ll need him to come alive in a big way this weekend. And last but not least...

Q. A lot of people talk about the offensive struggles but no one seems to be talking about the defense, a lot of people may have thought the defense played their best game of the year. What did you think of the defensive performance against Michigan?HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ: We played well, but not well enough. We didn’t win the game. If we shut them out, we’d be 5-0 right now, so that’s the bottom line ...

To your point, we for the most part played pretty solid defense. We gave up one big play. It wasn’t a blown coverage or anything like that. We had a guy right there competing for the ball, and their guy made a good play and it was a good throw. Got good protection on it ...

That being said, this is tough, this is the best offensive football team we play so we have a big challenge defensively right now and their guys on defense are every good as the team we saw a week ago.

I agree with Kirk here pretty much 100%. One big play was the difference in this game. Another performance like that from the defense this Saturday keeps Iowa at least in the ballgame. An INT or two wouldn’t hurt...

As always, there’s a lot more in the press conference that I didn’t get to here. These are just what I think are the highlights. Read the full thing here.