Is it time to crown This Is Fine dog as the GOAT meme? I think so. It can be used in so many situations! Am I using it in this instance to talk about the state of the United States of America or the state of Iowa football? Why not both!
As pretty much all of you are aware, the state of Iowa football is very NOT fine. An 0-2 start featuring inconsistent (to put it nicely) quarterback play, bad defense AND an OWI charge for Ihmir Smith-Marsette?
Remember folks, just a few short weeks ago, WE WANTED THIS SEASON.
Anyway, yesterday was Tuesday which meant Kirk Ferentz met with the media. Let’s see how many times he says ‘execution,’ shall we? Check out the full transcript here.
Let’s get right into the good stuff:
Q. In what ways is your preparation altered? Are you moving your Wednesday to Thursday, or have you changed anything dramatically from what you usually do?
KIRK FERENTZ: Like most college teams, we work pretty hard on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Those are our heaviest lifting days if you will, on the practice field and then you start to taper back. I think that’s the biggest thing is today would have been more of a heavy practice day and we don’t have that opportunity.
We just have to slide things a little bit and we’ll taper off at the end of the week because of the close proximity of the game, as opposed to working today.
It is what it is and we’ll deal with it.
Q. With what happened with Ihmir the other night, the two transfers last week, another transfer today in Calvin Lockett, does that give you pause for any reason, those kind of chain of events?
KIRK FERENTZ: ...I’m disappointed. Was hoping all three would stay with the team.
..all three weren’t in the two-deep either of the first two weeks. But all that being said, it’s disappointing because all three of them were doing well. All three are good people and good players. I think they had good potential. Shadrick Byrd played on our kickoff team in the first game. So that came as a little bit of a surprise, but not totally....
So I’m not so sure this is a real unnatural thing. It’s just the timing, I would attribute it to just what’s happened over the last seven-plus months, not having spring practice...
Ihmir’s incident is a separate incident. We haven’t had many of those over the last however many years. It’s very disappointing. Ihmir is very remorseful. I don’t think he fully realizes just the potential danger of the situation first and foremost, not only to himself but to other people, and it’s a regrettable decision that he made, so he’ll deal with it.
I’ve known Ihmir for four-plus years now. He’s a tremendous person and a great team member. For me personally, this is very uncharacteristic of him and surprising. It’s something he did and it’s a bad decision. It’s like all of us in life; you make a bad decision, you have to live with it. I think he’ll push forward, that’s my sense right now, but we’ll see how things pan out.
Essentially, Kirk is saying here that he’s not super surprised with the transfers. That’s interesting, but really neither here nor there. The Ihmir Smith-Marsette section is interesting as well. “Uncharacteristic and surprising...he’ll push forward, but we’ll see how things pan out.” Interesting to go from “he’s a tremendous person” to “we’ll see how things pan out.” Am I reading in between the lines too much? Maybe. But isn’t that the point of this!? It will certainly be interesting to see what happens with attrition and situations like this, especially if the season continues to be a slog.
Following up on that:
Q. Ihmir, is his suspension for just this week or have you decided on that?
KIRK FERENTZ: Our standard team policy has been a one-week suspension. He also has some athletic department protocol he’ll go through. I’m anticipating he’ll handle that well. He practiced on the scout team yesterday. He’ll do that all week.
As far as I know, unless something unforeseen happened or come up, that would be the plan.
I’m just glad no one was hurt from this incident. But ISM is probably lucky he wasn’t removed from the team.
Q. Couple position questions. Who takes Ihmir’s 52 snaps that he played the other day at Northwestern? Who steps up there? And also, you’ve still got Coy Cronk at right tackle, is that accurate on the first team or did Kallenberger unseat him on Saturday?
KIRK FERENTZ: At the receiver position, obviously Ihmir is not going to play. Tyrone Tracy is going to get more reps out of that, and Charlie Jones, and we’ll go from there. Those two guys are next in line for the most work, certainly.
Not necessarily bad, but not great, either!
Q. On Saturday, Kaevon Merriweather made a start at strong safety and it appeared that he had a pretty good game and had a tremendous hit. What are your thoughts on the way he performed and do you anticipate him maintaining that position?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, we’ll see how it goes as we move forward. A lot of it’s just matchups and your opponent, what they do offensively, that type of thing and then also, it’s not just about Kaevon, although he was a factor in that. It’s about getting your guys in the best positions for them individually, so it’s a little bit more of a complex equation....
...I think we’ve probably got five guys we feel are starters or six guys...This whole thing is very fluid, so we’ll just keep pushing forward and see what takes place and what adjustments we have to make.
Kaevon in particular, I thought he got off to a good start and then he kind of dipped a little bit. I thought he drifted a little bit, just his focus and concentration and he’s come back and done a nice job, and not just the last couple weeks but over the last couple months. You see him hitting stride and grown into the kind of player we thought he might have a chance to be. Just pleased with his growth and progress.
GIVE THIS MAN MORE SNAPS.
Q. Obviously this is a strange year, different year for you guys, you get off to an 0-2 start. How do you keep the team together, because obviously with the weird year, it could slide pretty quickly and how have your leaders stepped up in this situation?
KIRK FERENTZ: It can slide in any year. So this year is unusual, but we’re dealing with it on a week-to-week basis, day-to-day basis...
We were 3-0 in 2008 but pretty soon we were 3-3 and we were 0-3 in the conference. That’s probably the closest equation I could give to you this situation. Didn’t feel very good being 0-3 in Big Ten play. Didn’t feel real good being 0-1 or 0-2 that year either. But that year ended up being one of the most enjoyable years I have ever had in coaching. That team, not that you rank your teams or anything like that, but I just have nothing but fond memories about that team...
It’s hard. It tests you in a lot of ways and opinions on the outside, all that stuff. It’s all about what we do internally. If our focus stays where it needs to be, and it never changes. It’s all about trying to get better this week and see what we can do this week and play our best this week.... There’s a lot of football in front of us and a lot of season in front of us. What we need to do is grow and find a way to push this thing over the top. All you’ve got to do is look at our opponent. They did a great job of that week one to week two over the last two weeks. That’s what the game is all good.
Well there is certainly a lot more season left, but boy, we need to see something better than what we’ve seen already if there’s ANY hope of salvaging it.
Last but not least:
Q. I wanted to ask about Spencer and how he’s handled things after two games. Tough spot for a young quarterback to come in and start 0-2. How has he responded this week?
KIRK FERENTZ: ...We don’t have an experienced quarterback. That is one thing that’s a little bit different I’ve referenced. We’ve had a lot of first-year quarterbacks have a lot of success. Those guys all had spring ball and a normal camp going into the season, and they had the month of September to kind of build up to Big Ten play but that’s not the case.
...So those are things he’s working through but I think he’s doing a really good job. He had a couple tough series this past game in the second half. But I’m thinking back to 2009 when James Vandenberg, coming in against Northwestern for Ricky, and a week later went to Ohio State gave us every chance to win that football game and played his tail off.
So that’s week-to-week. He’s a young guy. He’s quality. We all believe in him, and he’s done a lot of good things already and I think all of us are really confident he’s just going to keep getting better as we go, and we are looking forward to seeing him play this Saturday.
Don’t know how I feel about that James Vandenberg comparison, but ok. Spencer Petras isn’t going anywhere as your quarterback. Vandenberg played every snap of 2012. Stop asking for Deuce Hogan.