Folks, not only is it a Hawkeye State, but also, the Hawks are 2-0 and soaring towards the top of the AP Top 25 with arguably one of the strongest resumes in college football right now. And we’re now heading into a stretch of games that should be very helpful — particularly for the struggling offense — in matchups vs. Kent State this Saturday and Colorado State next Saturday.
But let’s see what Kirk has to say about it all, shall we? Check out the full transcript here.
Let’s start out with one of the biggest talking points from the game - and how far this team can go: the offense.
KIRK FERENTZ: Offensively there was some good effort, some good plays. Certainly we don’t have the consistency we need right now. That will come hopefully. Part of that, too, is certainly a credit to Iowa State. Their defensive ballclub has been really good. They’re a tough group to move the ball against. Consistency is tough to come by when you play them.
You can say the same of Indiana too, buuuuut, there’s certainly a big need for this offense to improve in every area. Things will hopefully be better this weekend with Kyler Schott returning to the offensive line, but Spencer Petras needs to work on his consistency and the running game needs to get going. And this is exactly the kind of environment for that.
Q. Any concern right now for the offense? Seems stagnant for the first couple games.
KIRK FERENTZ: ‘Concern’ is not the right word. But certainly interest. As I mentioned, I think the biggest thing right now is consistency. We’ve done some good things at times, other times not so good. I can’t tell you it’s unpredicted or unexpected.
I look at our football team, going back to coming out of August, we’re young in both lines in a lot of areas, from an experience standpoint. Look at the offensive line, take Schott out of there, which we have the last couple weeks. We expected some bumps, at least I did. Thought that was going to be part of the process.
I’m really kind of pleased actually with the way the guys have held up. We knew Saturday would be a tough contest because of the people we were playing against, the whole picture of it. I thought they did a lot of good things.
What I would be concerned about is if we don’t see continual growth. That’s kind of what we’re banking on here as we move forward. That’s for our whole football team, but especially up on both lines because that’s where it shows a little bit more than other places.
I think if we can continue to grow, continue to improve, we’ll have a good chance to be a good offensive football team.
I kept this whole answer here because I agree with pretty much everything Kirk is saying here. It’s not time to hit the panic button...yet. These are two teams to start the season against. If we’re having this same conversation in two weeks, it will be a different story. But for now, there’s no reason to hit the panic button.
Q. Does the offense take longer to develop or is it just a testament to the defenses you faced?
KIRK FERENTZ: A little bit of each probably...
...We’ll start to mesh a little bit better. As long as we practice well, we’ve got to go out and play on Saturdays, because there’s no substitute for it, game action, all that. That’s what you’re working for.
I’m not standing here saying, Geez, I don’t know if we’re going to make it. I feel good about our chances of becoming a very good offense. But we’re not there yet. I think we’re all aware of the work we need to do.
Well I’m glad someone thinks we have the chance to become a very good offense. I hope that comes sooner rather than later.
Let’s talk offensive line!
Q. A couple of freshmen on the offensive line. Mason Richman, Connor Colby. What have you seen from them?
KIRK FERENTZ: I like the way they do things, that includes practice. It starts with practice actually. Just the way they work in practice ...
...Both those guys have done a really good job. They’re not overwhelmed by it. One thing about Mason, this is important for every player, goes back to camp. VanValkenberg worked him, Monday second week or whatever. The next day he came back, he stood right up to it and did a really nice job. He had some scar tissue, but he didn’t carry it with him.
That’s what you’re looking for in players, a guy to come back and take the challenge, try to learn from what might have gone wrong.
Q. When is the last time you started an offensive line this young, especially to open a season?
KIRK FERENTZ: That’s a good question. Yeah, probably when Jackson and Wirfs were playing tackle for us. Walking out to the field behind Boone Myers, Ike Boettger (both were in sweats). It dawned on me here is two fifth-year guys that aren’t playing. A first-year and a second-year, tandem we just talked about, they were starting for us. Those guys were really good players, NFL players today, but they weren’t there. They were young guys learning how to play.
You pay some dues along the way. We paid for it then, too. But it paid off for us down the road. Yeah, that’s part of the territory sometimes.
While I may be concerned about the offense, one area I’m not really concerned about is the offensive line. They’re young, but having Schott back will almost certainly help things. And I think this unit will continue to improve over the season...like pretty much every Iowa offensive line in the Kirk Ferentz era.
Q. You’ve been ranked high before in your career, but not ever this early in the season. What does it take for a hundred players to handle those types of high rankings?
KIRK FERENTZ: To get a hundred of them to understand that, we’re batting a low percentage on that one. It would be really good (smiling).
Probably the biggest message, I would say the same to anybody that asked, at this time of year, I’ve always said this, it’s kind of like recruiting rankings. There’s speculation, a lot of speculation, because nobody knows.
This time of year, especially venture to say right now there’s probably a small handful of teams that are worthy of being ranked high ... Hopefully our players understand that. We’ve won two games. We’re thrilled to death to be 2-0. It’s the best you can be. But it means nothing.
Nobody is smart enough to know what it’s going to look like in November or December. Hopefully we’re in that discussion, but there’s a whole lot of work to do between now and then to still be relevant at that point.
Sounds like a good message to preach to the team...expectations are sky high for this team right now, and I know I’m not the only one looking for the potential fall from grace. But it’s not out of the question to be thinking about a Big Ten West title at the least right now...
And last but not least, I would be REMISS if I didn’t include some love for the god Tory Taylor:
Q. Have you seen this coming from Tory?
KIRK FERENTZ: No. I was hoping he was good, but, like, wow. The best part, he has no idea what he’s doing half the time in terms of football. He does as a player. The rest of the stuff, it’s an adventure ride for him. He’s enjoying life. He has such a good approach. Just really underwhelmed by all of it, what he’s doing. He just goes out and plays.
He’s enjoying life and we’re enjoying the hell out of watching him. The advantages Taylor gave this team on Saturday in terms of flipping the field were astronomical. Honestly, as long as the defense keeps this up, the offense can sputter as much as they want so we can see more of Tory Taylor (jk please score points but also like, I love watching this guy punt...)