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KIRK SPEAKS: Northwestern Wildcats

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How will Kirk Ferentz get his team back on track in Week 2?

NCAA Football: Iowa at Purdue Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Well, last week wasn’t fun. Well, it was fun to have Hawkeye football to watch and discuss with friends and, let’s be honest, commiserate about, but the actual on-field product was bad. Erratic quarterback play, way too many penalties, a missing receiving corps and more all led to a demoralizing loss to start the shortened, nine-game Big Ten season at Purdue.

This weekend, the Iowa Hawkeyes have a chance to right the ship against a Northwestern Wildcats team fresh off a dominating win over Maryland. Head coach Kirk Ferentz met with the media yesterday, let’s see what he had to say, shall we? As always, check out the full transcript here. As a reminder as well, I chop up these press conferences to my liking, and do not always necessarily put questions in the order they were asked.

KIRK FERENTZ: The big story is our ball security issues on Saturday. We had three balls on the ground, lost two of them. We were penalized a lot as a football team and a lot of those were offensive penalties, and the bottom line there is when you do that it’s hard to have any kind of momentum, any kind of rhythm offensively when you have negative yardage plays or plays that take you out of scoring position.

This was the biggest flaw of the team on Saturday, and everything Kirk mentions here is pretty obvious if you were watching the game.

KIRK FERENTZ: We had a lot of first-time players, but for the quarterback position I thought he did a lot of good things, a lot of things he’ll get better at, but was I was really impressed with his poise and his control out there and thought he did some good things.

Key word here: some. The jury is obviously still out on Spencer Petras at quarterback, but his accuracy will need to shore up quickly if he wants to stay at QB1 — and if this team wants to win games. Especially close games, when the team is down 4 points with plenty of time to drive down the field to win the game.

Q. In a traditional year you would try to use most of September to try to build up to get into Big Ten season and be at a pretty good level, and a lot of times those early games are where you kind of work out the kinks. Does that throw any kind of urgency into the building process versus maybe in the past you felt like you could, I guess, work your way up through the month of September?

KIRK FERENTZ: ...Our good teams at least have gotten better as the year goes on. If we’re going to be successful that’s paramount. We have to do that. There’s just not much wiggle room...

Hopefully we’ll show improvement this week from last week. We need to. Just looking at the film from the Maryland game the other night, it could turn fast if we’re not ready to go because they’ve got a good football team and they are — they’re ready to roll. They showed that.

We’re going to have to play catch-up here. We’re going to have to get moving, and it’s every game counts, but you always go back to like the ‘09 season, it took a miracle basically to win that first game and then we ended up having a team that played pretty well the rest of the season.

Kirk Ferentz talks about the past alert! All things considered, this is...not a great answer! I look at him answering this question as essentially seeing that if they don’t control this game from the start, it could get out of hand quick (unless Maryland is just bad, which is very possible, especially this year). But an interesting phrase here is “we’re going to have to play catch-up.” It’s obvious, but I find it interesting that Kirk admits to it. There’s definitely a lot of room for this team to grow, but they do not have a lot of time to do it, and whether or not that growth actually happens will probably determine the final numbers in the win/loss columns.

Q. 10 penalties and two turnovers; I know you talked about it after the game Saturday, but what are the ways you clean those up during practice over the course of the week?

KIRK FERENTZ: It’s just concentration, and it’s fundamentals, obviously ... We’ve just got to be a little bit more securing the ball, more conscious of our fundamentals and then concentrate, too.

It’s the same thing with false starts. Those are typically concentration errors, and if our cadence is a little different because we have a new quarterback, all those things, we’re motioning, shifting, that’s just concentration. We’ve got to get that done, otherwise we can’t do all those things, and we’re not going to change quarterbacks.

A lot to unpack here. Obvious, the team needs more time to get into rhythm. But apparently Petras has all the time in the world because “we’re not going to change quarterbacks.” Not surprising in the least, but still noteworthy.

Q. Ihmir obviously didn’t have any receptions Saturday. Was that just Purdue concentrating on taking him out? Could you sense some frustration it looked like from him during the game? And how important is it to get him a little more involved maybe this week?

KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, we want to get everybody involved. When guys — skill players typically if they don’t get the ball enough, they’re going to be frustrated ... But the ball is going to go where it’s going to go typically.

I think we’ve got a really good receiving corps potentially and that includes the tight ends, and I think we’ve got good backs. We’ve got to protect the ball a little bit better. But if we’re operating the way we need to operate, probably everybody is going to get their share of balls.

Great to hear that the team’s best offensive weapon isn’t a focal point!

Last but not least:

Q: How will you adapt your schedule inside the complex with Tuesday off, and how do you feel about the NCAA’s decision to stop athletics for a day for the election?

KIRK FERENTZ: I think it’s great in theory. I didn’t know it took that long to vote. This year it seems like a lot of voting has already been done, so it seems like it might have been better to do a team vote, symbolically have everybody together, bus them over and go to the polling place or everybody do their little dropbox deal, something like that.

If we want to do that four years from now, that might be a more powerful representation of what we’re trying to deem to be important, and it is important. Voting is extremely important for everybody in our country. So I wholly endorse that concept.

So that’s good. A couple years ago I do remember voting mainly because my wife reminds me to and I remember going down I think it’s Horace Mann, I got there at whatever time the polls closed, 9:58, and I remember I’m walking to the door, I’m probably about 60 feet from the door and this sweet lady is looking at me and then she just shuts the door right in my face because I was 20 seconds late and she wouldn’t let me in. So I didn’t vote that year I’ve got to confess.

Lol. Go out and vote next week, folks. Do your duty.

And as always, there’s a lot I didn’t cover here. Check out the full transcript here for more. Go Hawks. Go vote.