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KIRK SPEAKS: Nebraska Cornhuskers

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Can the Hawkeyes finish season strong, or will Scott Frost’s Cornhuskers finally play spoiler?

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Folks. Black Friday is almost here, which means I will spend more money than I should on useless shit, and also that it’s time for Iowa’s regular season closer against Scott Frost and the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

The Cornhuskers have a very bad record, but have played teams very close all season long, including last week against Wisconsin. But it’s never come to fruition, due to a variety of factors. This week’s factor might be that quarterback Adrian Martinez won’t be playing...which probably works to Iowa’s advantage.

But regardless of who is under center, the Huskers are going to come in ready for a win...and especially a win against Iowa. So let’s see what the head man Kirk Ferentz had to say at his weekly presser. Full transcript here, my snarky highlights below.

Let’s get right into it.

Q. Does this Nebraska team feel like their record is not indicative of how good they may be?

KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, you start by looking at the stats, which we’ve been watching those all season long with everybody, and then you see the film more importantly. They’ve always had good players. It seems like each and every year they’ve got guys that are hard to defend and hard to block. I think that’s certainly the case.

For whatever reason they just — they’ve played so many close games. It’s tough. We’ve been there. There’s nothing fun about those. But yeah, you watch them on film, they do an awful lot of things well. They’re extremely diverse offensively, a million things to prepare for, and element of the unknown now a little bit, but they’re just — they move the ball, they score points, and defensively I think they’re much improved from four years ago.

I think it’s funny that Kirk says here that there’s ‘nothing fun’ about close games, when in fact, his whole philosophy historically has been low scoring games against any and all opponents, regardless of ranking. But I digress. Nebraska has definitely been ‘in’ many of their games this year. They just haven’t been able to finish it off. And frankly, Iowa has gotten lucky in a lot of the games — re-watch the last two games in particular and tell me otherwise. You can’t. I don’t necessarily think Frost is the second coming of Christ by any means, but this team has been able to keep up with the Big Ten’s best this year, particularly on offense, which is honestly more than we can say about Iowa’s offense. And yet, one team is 9-2 and the other isn’t sniffing a bowl.

Q. When you look back on Alex’s tape from Saturday, how would you review him and has he been taking the ones this week?

KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, I think he did a good job. If we were playing tomorrow, he’d be our quarterback. He did a good job, and I’ll just qualify it again, I think Spencer did a really good job, too, and Spencer is really practicing well, also. He’s being a good teammate first and foremost but he’s also ready to go in case something happens.

If there’s a good thing that came out of this injury, it’s at least now we’ve got two guys that have played in games, and that’s encouraging. Focus right now is getting through this week.

Literally nothing new here but I can’t not include it. I still think that Padilla is the guy you want moving forward for this team, given his mobility alone. You can’t tell me that Petras would have gone into Saturday’s game and only gotten sacked once. There’s just no way. I get that you can’t just say that Padilla is the guy but..just say it, Kirk.

Q. Do you have much film on Smothers, the quarterback that they’ll probably use?

KIRK FERENTZ: No, not really. I think they might have dug some up from junior high. Those guys are pretty creative back there. Spring game, I guess, and that type of thing. But it’s not the same. But we have an idea of who he is and what he is, and he’s fast, I know that.

This could be good or bad. If he has any mobility at all, I might be a bit worried, at least initially. No tape to me means conservative defensive play calling. But I trust Phil more than anyone else on this coaching staff, so I’m not overly concerned.

Q. Is it hard to prepare for a quarterback when you don’t have much to go off of what they do?

KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, it makes it one more challenge. My guess is he fits their scheme, though, so he’s a really athletic guy, one of them is, and the other guy is a little bit younger and we don’t know quite as much about certainly, but my guess is the scheme is going to stay pretty much the same where we’re going to have to defend a lot of things. He’s a really athletic guy, so that puts pressure on you when the quarterback can move around like this guy can.

My guess would be that he probably will want to run more than he wants to throw, and I doubt he’ll have the passing capabilities of Martinez, which will be to the advantage of our interception-happy defense.

Q. How would you assess Tyler Goodson’s progress this year?

KIRK FERENTZ: He’s doing well. We talked about the offensive line .. I’m not trying to trash these guys by any stretch, but if you’re looking at it realistically, that’s really where our biggest challenges were mainly because of those injuries to Cody and Kyler right off the bat.

We’ve been playing catch-up pretty much all year, and we’re not out of the woods yet, but at least I think the arrow is starting to move the right way. I thought his production Saturday was probably tied in with maybe the improvement we’re seeing with the guys up front.

Interesting here to see Kirk basically blame Tyler Goodson’s lack of production on the offensive line. I don’t think he’s wrong by any stretch of the imagination, but also I think he’s not necessarily giving Goodson the criticism that some think he might deserve, particularly with the way he seemingly tries to make huge plays out of nothing. The offensive line is a huge part of that obviously, but I think some of it is also self-inflicted. But I do like the direction the run game is going.

Q. What do you see as the next step in Arland Bruce’s development?

KIRK FERENTZ: Just keep playing. It’s like anybody. It’s like those linemen. You’ve got to keep playing. He’s doing a lot of good things. Keegan is doing a lot of good things, and other guys are, too. Charlie as a receiver has grown. All of a sudden now we’ve got some numbers there instead of being really thin.

I personally don’t think you can answer this question like this with ‘keep playing’ and start Spencer Petras. You just can’t. It’s clear that Bruce and Johnson have more rhythm with Padilla. But also, GIVE HIM MORE TARGETS. Bruce and Johnson are truly the real deal.

And last but not least, a fun question!

Q. Are you having a dinner tomorrow night?

KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah.

Q. Is there a select group that you always see that eats the most?

KIRK FERENTZ: Well, I mean, you might be able to imagine that one. That’s a slam dunk. The linemen on both sides usually rack up that one easily.

No surprises there.

Go Hawks, and have a happy and safe holiday y’all.