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KIRK SPEAKS: WEEK 5: Maryland

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IT’S A TRAP!?

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Well, once again last week wasn’t what we were looking for in terms of a dominating win from the No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes, but the team did come out with a win, even if ugly. Now, it’s time to clear the memory and move on in a short week as the Hawkeyes head to Maryland for a Friday night Big Ten matchup on the road.

It’s a trap? Maybe. What does Kirk Ferentz think? Let’s find out! Check out the full transcript here, my highlights (and snark) below.

KIRK FERENTZ: You go through the tape, and it shows some things. There’s an awful lot of details that we need to keep working on. I don’t think anything specific other than it’s just a cumulative effect.

I can find something specific: better offensive play calling and execution from the quarterback, maybe?

KIRK FERENTZ: ...It’s a short week. We’re playing a night game, being on the road, playing a Big Ten opponent. That’s the biggest factor is that we’re playing a good Big Ten football team no matter where it is, but certainly with the other conditions prescribed, it makes it a big challenge for us now.

...I think 37-plus points a game right now, giving up 14. So clearly, they’re in good shape there and doing a good job on special teams.

...I think first and foremost, you start with the quarterback. He’s a really good football player ... he’s playing at a real high level right now, as is their team. So tough start to the season a year ago, and the transformation they’ve gone through is really, really impressive.

I’ve had this game circled on my calendar for awhile now as a big challenge for this team. Now obviously, the defense has done its job all year in shutting down high scoring offenses. But let’s say they don’t for whatever reason? Well, I don’t know that our offense could compete in a shootout, frankly. In my mind, that would quickly turn into blowout, real fast. This team is talented offensively. We’ll need another gem of a defensive performance, I think.

Q. What is the biggest challenge with a condensed week? Obviously, some experience with Nebraska, but that’s a new class situation.

KIRK FERENTZ: You try to steal notes from that, but the biggest thing is you still have the same amount of work you would normally do, just less time to get there ...

I think you have to try to figure out quickly what it is you want to try to do and your plan is fairly concise because the biggest thing, it’s like any week. You’ve got to make sure you can get the information across to your players where they have the chance to execute it.

The other thing is you want to get as much work as you can get done, but you don’t want to use up the same amount of energy on a game week because there’s not that recovery time from Wednesday on that we typically enjoy.

Just some interesting insight here into the prep that goes into a week like this.

Q. Is Kyler Schott in line for some more reps? How about Justin Britt? Would that help reinforce things this week?

KIRK FERENTZ: Justin’s had a little more practice. I’ll start with him, so that’s encouraging. And looks fine. I think Kyler’s gaining ground, so with every week, we expect to see him play more and more. That will help us. Two guys that are a little bit older, certainly, but Kyler especially is experienced.

Q. Is that something you see helping the run game? A lot of young guys out there still.

KIRK FERENTZ: It should help us, but it’s not the total answer. We just have to keep getting better ...As I said Saturday, I think we’ve got to provide better direction maybe, a little better scheme, and execute better. It’s a combination of both things to try to figure out what we can do well.

Yeah, the run game has...not been great, honestly. Anyone else feel like Tyler Goodson is doing a bit too much dancing for their liking? However, the line is setting up to peak at the right time (I hope), so maybe the run game will at the same time.

Q. There’s obviously a lot more deep throws. Do you see that happening in Maryland, Penn State, kind of going forward in Big Ten play?

KIRK FERENTZ: ...last week was a better week for us completing deep balls in practice whereas a couple weeks prior to that, I wasn’t so sure how many of those we were making. In fact, I’m pretty sure how many we weren’t making.

That’s a concern because, if you’re not doing it in practice, it’s not going to happen in the game. You’ve got to hit it in rhythm out there on the field, the practice field first.

Well that’s interesting. This is the first I’ve heard Kirk mention something like this about practice this season regarding the offense. Was it Petras overthrowing? Was it inexperience at receiver? Whatever it is, it seems to be improving in practice, so I’ll take that. Let’s hope it transfers to games.

Q. Looking at Spencer 12 starts in now, you saw him last game really throwing the ball confidently down the field. What has it been like, or how would you assess his ability to gain trust over the coaches the last few years that it culminates in him being able to throw the ball down the field and develop the playbook a little bit more?

KIRK FERENTZ: We have felt really good about him and continue to feel really good about him. There’s no issue there. We’ve had deep throws in our playbook. It’s just Saturday they were there. It’s great to see him be aggressive with the ball and do that.

There’s only one play that really stands out and I think all of us wish we had back. There were several things, not a lot, several things wrong with that play, but one was to just throw the ball where nobody would get it, and it would have been a better ending there.

That’s part of the process. He’ll be learning as long as he’s playing, just like all of us are. We’re all learning too. We’re very thrilled he’s our quarterback. He’s doing a good job, and Alex is doing a nice job too in the backup role.

Just your weekly reminder that there is no imminent quarterback change coming. As long as Petras continues to make minimal mistakes, he’ll be under center. If you think otherwise, read that quote, and then read it again, and then read it again and tell me why you think we would see Padilla at any point (barring injury).

Q. A couple weeks ago you were talking about you know the game is coming where you have to score 40. Given the team’s offensive stats in the first four games, if that game were to be this Friday night, how confident are you in your offense to do that?

KIRK FERENTZ: First of all, we never know when it’s going to come. I think you guys know me well enough, I hope it never comes because I hate those games. But it’s part of football too. We’ll just play it by ear.

We’ll figure it out. Actually, I was having that thought today. I don’t know what made me — my mind was wandering on the field. We’ve done some things in practice at times where it looked pretty good to our defense. Maybe it was during the two-minute drill we did this morning.

You know, you do what you got to do, and that’s part of football. We don’t want to play that way all the time certainly, but if we have to, we’ll do our best. I’ve got confidence in our guys. I think we’re certainly capable. It’s not going to be our approach coming out of the chute, that’s for sure.

Hmmm. Trying to read between the lines of the coach speak here, I want to say that Kirk’s true answer here is ‘No, but we’ll give it a shot if we have to.’ What that means, I don’t know. More no-huddle? More deep balls? I’m hoping we never have to see that against this stout defense.

Q. Offensively, Iowa is last in the Big Ten in total offense, but your defense has kind of been the key to success these past four games. How long do you think you can ride out that strategy, and you’re hoping to, I guess, reverse that production on offense? How are you going to go about it?

KIRK FERENTZ: As you might imagine, our team goal is not to be last in the league, offensively, that’s for sure. To be 4-0 right now is as good as you can do, so we’re happy about that. We’re doing a lot of good things.

It’s every week we’re thinking what can we do to move forward? We’ll worry about the stats and all that stuff when the season’s over. What do we have to do to win this week? But a bigger eye on improvement. That’s what our eyes are on.

It’s the race we’re all running. How good can we become in a certain segment or area? Try to analyze what’s not working, what can we do to make it better, and just try to make it week by week.

So, uh, just working on...everything offensively to move forward, or what? This is a total non-answer and it’s a bit worrisome, but it’s Kirk Ferentz. Interpret it how you will.

That’s all for this week, but a lot of other interesting highlights in the full transcript above if you want to read. I’m worried about this one. Go Hawks, regardless.