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KIRK SPEAKS: Nebraska Cornhuskers

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It’s Heroes week and the Captain is talking Spencer Petras, Brad Banks, the run game and more!

Iowa v Penn State Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

I hate Nebraska. It’s extremely enjoyable to watch Nebraska suck, and have their fans respond in exactly the way you’d expect. It’s extremely satisfying in a year that has been anything but. Hence, this is a must win game for Iowa.

A loss would be incredibly bad. But this Nebraska team is also incredibly bad.

But what does Kirk Ferentz think? Let’s find out, shall we? Full transcript is available here, highlights below.

Let’s start with some offensive line injury updates:

KIRK FERENTZ: Kyler Schott is working his way back now. He won’t start the game, but he’ll play. I don’t know what kind of condition he’s in right now. We’ll have to see how that goes. We’re going to get him back into the mix. Coy Cronk might have a chance. We’ll see what that looks like as we go along.

Well this is certainly good news! But at the same time, I’ve been really pleased with the current offensive line situation, so this is something that will hopefully be good, but hopefully won’t mess too much up. As long as the running lanes are large for Tyler Goodson and Mekhi Sargent, who are both having fantastic seasons by the way, then I couldn’t care less who starts where.

Q. It’s been a long time since you beat three Big Ten teams as thoroughly as you have the last three weeks. Why is this happening?

KIRK FERENTZ: We’re playing better. I mean, that’s probably the simple answer. When you’re playing better, you have a chance.

Like I said, even last week, score ended up being a pretty good gap. If you look at the stats, they’re pretty close. If you’re at the game, I don’t think any of us on our side were feeling overly confident in that fourth quarter. They had us right there in a really vulnerable position. All they needed to do was score, get an on-side kick, they’re knocking right on the door. In the conference, you can’t relax. We did have a chance maybe a couple weeks before.

I can assure you, nobody in our camp saw it coming in either case. Sometimes it just happens. I think it’s a credit to our guys playing better football. I think our guys are for the most part staying focused for the full 60 minutes. That sometimes is easier said than done.

Q. It’s easy for us to see how well Goodson and Sargent are playing. What do you think has made them so effective this year?

KIRK FERENTZ: I think we’re playing better as an entire team. That helps. But both of them, they’re both a year older. Mekhi has played a lot of good football here, right. Tyler got off to a good start last year as a first-year guy...

...The commonality between both of them is they have great attitudes, great guys on the team. I’m sure they have off days and all that, but they don’t bring it out to the field. They’re positive out there. They like football. They both do, they really like football. Mekhi, it’s interesting, I’m not trying to knock a junior college, any junior college program, he came from Iowa Western. Great program, unbelievable facilities. Way better than we had at Maine, I can tell you.

He has a real appreciation for being in a Division I program where there’s a training table, all those kinds of things. A lot less bus rides than coaching at Iowa Western or Maine. You got those bus rides in front of you. He appreciates every day, a tremendous guy.

GIVE THESE MEN MORE SNAPS. It’s clear our quarterback play is inconsistent at best. GO WITH WHAT WORKS. IT’S THE RUN GAME.

Q. It seemed like Spencer is starting to settle in more to his role at quarterback. Two of his better passes of the season. How have you kind of seen Spencer progress over the last couple weeks? Do you think that Saturday was a step in right direction for him?

KIRK FERENTZ: It sounds like there’s been a lot of chatter on that topic the last couple weeks. As I tried to say earlier, we’ve had a lot of first-year quarterbacks play pretty well here historically...

...I can’t say enough about him. We’re really pleased with what he’s doing. We think he’s on the right path, got a good feel out there, good sense. He’s going to make mistakes, every player does. Every new players certainly makes mistakes.

As coaches we’ve seen enough of him pretty extensively. All we can do is compare him to guys that have come through. We think he’s got the right attributes to be a really good quarterback for us. The next step is actually doing it on the field.

I just alluded to that, the Penn State game in ‘02. You go back two weeks before that game, we had a total meltdown. Brad Banks was pretty much at the center of it. I think it’s one of the greatest stories in college football, my personal opinion, I’m a little biased. A lot of guys would have tanked it after that meltdown. Bad day for him, bad day for our whole team. Quarterbacks always feel more responsibility.

That’s the essence of Brad Banks. He got right back up on his feet, went to work with a great attitude. He’s the reason we beat Penn State in 2002 and proceeded to run the table on the conference. He was our MVP, AP Player of the Year, Big Ten Player of the Year. That’s a guy who failed miserably in week three or four, whatever it might have been. That’s football. That’s life. That’s what you learn from.

I’m not predicting Spencer is going to have a meltdown. I hope that doesn’t happen. If it does, we’re not going to abandon ship because we’ve seen enough of him, just like we saw enough of Brad, go right down the list. That’s how this game is. It’s a hard game. It humbles you. It’s all about what you do when the stuff hits the fan a little bit.

Your weekly reminder that Spencer Petras is your quarterback — this time with a Brad Banks comparison! Do I think Petras will be Brad Banks? Never! But who knows?

And last but not least:

Q. This is the second straight game you have to prepare for two different quarterbacks. Is it different this week in any way than it was last week when you look at the similarities or differences?

KIRK FERENTZ: Yes and no. I would answer it this way off the top of my head. The systems are very different, right? I think with Penn State, what they do with their quarterback, we kind of feel like both quarterbacks were equally dangerous. We had a lot of respect for both of them.

I would not compare Nebraska’s scheme necessarily to Penn State’s in the X’s and O’s part. I would compare it that both quarterbacks are again very dangerous. They can hurt you maybe in a different way than the guys from Penn State hurt you. Getting hurt is getting hurt, doesn’t matter how it is.

Both these guys are capable of making plays with their feet, with their arm and their head. It’s one of those deals where there’s a lot of pressure on your defense at every position because both these quarterbacks can run, they can get outside and throw it, they can get outside and run it. That makes it a big challenge for us.

Hopefully the result this week is the same as last week no matter who plays quarterback for Nebraska.

Go Hawks.