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KIRK SPEAKS: Holiday Bowl

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Let’s hear from head coach Kirk Ferentz about how the Hawkeyes are preparing to face the USC Trojans

NCAA Football: Iowa at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s bowl season y’all!

Well, not quite yet, but soon enough! Iowa’s bowl matchup against USC is just under a two weeks away, believe it or not. So in advance of that trip, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz met with the media yesterday to discuss the Trojans, the end of the season and more. Check out what he had to say in full here.

Let’s get right into it, from Kirk’s opening statement:

KIRK FERENTZ: I want to congratulate publicly the guys, Keith Duncan, who was at the awards show the other night, Thursday night. Unfortunately he came up short. Great season.

KEITH DUNCAN WAS ROBBED OF THE GROZA AWARD AND EVERYONE KNOWS IT.

KIRK FERENTZ: Also part of the equation, this has been an unusual preparation. Really is going to require some flexibility, already has ... Thanksgiving fell late this year. We’re in finals right now. This is not a week of preparation for us, a clean week. We’re just trying to get an hour here, an hour there.

We’ll really kind of start in earnest Friday afternoon or almost Friday evening. It’s really atypical, really feels more like we had a double bye than it does getting ready for a bowl prep. Everything we’ve done in the past, threw that out, started from scratch. The exact opposite of the time we played Southern Cal in the Orange Bowl. We had about 12 weeks to get ready for that one. That’s probably worse, quite frankly, because you really get screwed up that way.

Interesting tidbit here if you’re into the logistics of game prep. Could it be to Iowa’s advantage that it hasn’t been that long since the Nebraska game? We’ll see.

KIRK FERENTZ: You don’t have to say much, if you think about USC, the tradition of that program, the success they’ve had, the great individual players, the coaches that have gone through there. It’s a who’s who.

I really don’t know a lot about their football team right now other than they’ve had a couple close losses, a lot of good victories. I’ve not seen one play of film. I’m just going to take a wild guess they’ve got good players ... I know they have a freshman quarterback that stepped in, did a great job, great receivers. We’re going to have our work cut out for us, that’s for sure.

Kirk is hitting the nail on the head here. The thing I’m most worried about against this USC team is its receivers. They’re fast and talented playmakers. Our corners will have their work cut out for them, and if they struggle and our offense can’t keep up, things could get ugly fast.

Q. With the short prep, do you lose developmental time?

KIRK FERENTZ: That’s a big part of it, sure is. That’s disappointing because we’re a developmental program. Whatever it may be, those calendar hours, we just can’t make them up. That’s the way it goes. Have to do a better job in the spring.

Another interesting tidbit here regarding bowl prep. Any time is better than no time though, right?

NFL talk!

Q. You’ve been down the road with guys exploring or putting their name, NFL stuff. How have you approached that with A.J. and Tristan?

KIRK FERENTZ: ... Since we’re playing so early, I think the discussions are going to come after the bowl. If we were playing in January, it might be a little more aggressive at this end. There’s really nothing to talk about at this point.

Q. Three guys that shared they were exploring were Geno, the two mentioned.

KIRK FERENTZ: Those are the only three I know. As far as I know, that’s it.

I personally think all three of them should stay, but I’m selfish.

Injury update!

Q. What is Brandon Smith’s availability?

KIRK FERENTZ: He’s working back. I’m not going to say he’s ready to go, but he is working back, and that’s encouraging. He was on the field Saturday and this morning. It’s encouraging.

Please get Brandon Smith some snaps!

And finally, let’s talk quarterbacks:

Q. What have you seen from your backup quarterbacks right now, after next week will be challenging for the starting job?

KIRK FERENTZ: We’ll see how it all goes. They’re doing a good job competing with each other. Spencer still takes the two reps. We’ve let him work with the ones a little bit at times. Nate has had a lot of snaps. They’re all doing a good job, moving forward. I’d reserve judgment on the whole group until we get them where we’re really competing with those guys on equal footing.

Let the next Iowa QB battle begin!

Q. How about Nate, how would you summarize this season, evaluate his season?

KIRK FERENTZ: It’s just funny you bring that up because somebody made a comment to me somewhere in the last two or three weeks about he’s a target, via social media, a lot of angst. Image that, quarterback, coordinator, or head coach being criticized.

... Has he hit every throw? The answer is no. All you got to do is the last game we played, the last three balls he threw were pretty impressive ... All three of those balls were right on the money. I don’t know how many guys could make those throws.

You can look at what people don’t do, flaws they may have, bad plays, we’ve all had those. I choose to look at the ones that were clutch plays for us, that allowed us not to go to overtime.

I mean Kirk’s not wrong here! Stanley has certainly made big plays when they mattered most. His career hasn’t been perfect, but I think a few years from now, he’ll still be remembered fondly by the fanbase for three years of solid wins and only a few truly bad losses. That’s more than some other Iowa QBs could say.