Folks, it’s Hate Week. Last Saturday was a lot of fun destroying the Indinia Hoosiers but now we’re onto our next opponent: the Iowa State Cyclones. Let’s see what the players and head coach Kirk Ferentz had to say about it, shall we? Check out the full transcript here.
But you know exactly where we’re going to start, don’t you?
Iowa RB Tyler Goodson on Iowa State: "This is like their Super Bowl. They haven’t beat us in a couple years (since 2014). I think them being at their home place knowing College GameDay is going to be there is a good distraction for them and allows us just to focus on us."— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) September 7, 2021
Cue every Iowa State fan on Twitter calling this “bulletin board material” and citing the fact that the team RANKED ONE SPOT BELOW THEM IN THE RANKINGS is saying this. Pay no attention to the fact that the lower ranked team has won the last five of these matchups, or that their Lord and Savior Matt Campbell has yet to beat Kirk Ferentz, or the fact that, y’know, Iowa leads the series historically 45-22, but yeah, ok. You won the Fiesta Bowl against an Oregon team that went 4-2 in the “regular season.” Cool. That has everything to do with this season. Everyone that was good last season is just as good this season, right?
Listen. I am not here to say that Iowa State has not improved significantly under Matt Campbell. But my God, could you be more insufferable than you have been since last year? Beyond state bragging rights, this game has no actual implication on the season for these teams, who could both conceivably make appearances in their respective conference championship games.
But if you’re telling me that Iowa State is not salivating at the thought of a win after losing five in a row and a break in the series, you’re delusional. This means more to them than it does to Iowa — this year in particular. Miss me with that BS if you think otherwise.
From the opening statement:
KIRK FERENTZ: Special teams, really well-coached, play hard, very, very productive.
Very, very productive indeed!
Football in the state of Iowa summed up in one GIF pic.twitter.com/hsF5BTxvIn— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) September 15, 2019
Q. I didn’t hear him saying this, but it’s been reported that one of your prominent players said that this is like their Super Bowl, and them being at home, knowing College Gameday is going to be there is a good distraction for them. Does your previous statement mean you would disagree with that?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, I hope he’s right, our player is right, but I doubt it. I just can’t imagine — yeah, it’s a big deal, I’m not minimizing Gameday or any of that stuff, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with the game. My guess is they’re going to be totally focused on playing well. That would be my guess.
Kirk does have a point here...I don’t really think that Gameday being in town really impacts how ISU will prepare for the game. But, you never know! This is El Assico! after all.
Q. Statistically it wasn’t a big game for the wide receivers, but what did you see from them going back and watching film? What’s your confidence level with that group heading into this game where big plays and big performances might be needed?
KIRK FERENTZ: ...I feel good about our receivers. I didn’t last January, but I feel good right now just about what we’ve seen them do, not only during spring practice but maybe more so since we got going in August. I think we’ve seen a lot of growth and development with the guys, and I think we’ve got a good group right now.
...over the course of 12 games, I think we’ll know better about where all our strengths and weaknesses are, but we have total confidence in those guys, and they’ll make their share of plays during the course of the year.
A classic Kirk dodge here. I was not overly impressed with the receivers over the weekend, but maybe I didn’t need to be, since the game was over in the first five minutes. If they can’t produce this week though, especially if the run game can’t get going, the Hawkeyes might be in trouble.
A multi-part question/answer here:
Q. Iowa State’s defense being unique, the 3-3-5, the star player, how does that affect your game plan schematically on offense?
KIRK FERENTZ: A lot. It affects everything you do ... I think that’s one of the reasons they’ve had the success. That conference overall is not known maybe as much for defense as some of the others, but one of the first things I think about is the way they play defense ...
...They’re a disciplined team. They don’t hurt themselves with penalties, turnovers, so it’s a pretty good combination for winning football games, and I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve seen them be as successful.
It’s a unique preparation. You don’t see that much. It’s not the same as last week, but we’ve had two teams that are both veteran teams, both a lot of good players and well-coached and tough preparations, tough schemes. So it’s another week of that, and that’s a challenge.
Q. Do you prepare Spencer for something like that so he can add a little more, add a little more in the running game or tight ends —
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, we have to try to put a good plan together that’s going to give us a chance to execute what we think might have a chance. But it’s not easy. We have plenty of film. The good news is we can see most of their players on film. We have a good idea who’s going to be there. Not always sure where exactly they’re going to be or what they’re going to do, but they’re going to be well-coached and they’re going to play hard.
You get to tangibly see these guys on film, and we have one game of this year, but a lot of their guys are veteran.
I think this is interesting here because the veteran aspect of the team might actually work to Iowa’s advantage as far as prep goes. If the coaching staff is seeing a lot of things on film that they saw last year, that’s a definite advantage in Iowa’s favor. There’s extra experience on the Iowa State side, sure, but having a lot of film to breakdown never hurt anybody, either. We did see some interesting stuff last week, particularly in the wildcat, and I don’t think we’ve seen it all, either.
Q. A veteran defense in Indiana; how much of a confidence booster is that for those younger players that for the most part were able to execute a game plan?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, we handled a lot of really tough things that they threw at us, and we knew they were going to throw things at us. You just don’t know how you’re going to handle them, but I thought we a lot of things pretty well. Missed a couple, and this one is a different set of circumstances, a different set of challenges. But there are challenges there. They’ve got a system they really believe in, and they play it extremely well.
... They have a personality there, and that’s — I think really you’ve got two teams that believe in that, and that makes it a real challenge. It’ll probably be 48-41 again, one of those deals, but I don’t see that coming, I just think it’s going to be tough to — I know from our standpoint we’re going to have to really work hard to move the ball.
This will certainly be a lot tougher of an environment from last week, but I do believe last week was a good test for this crew, particularly on offense. There need to be improvements for sure, but the potential is certainly there, and again, we haven’t seen all there is to see.
Q. You played these guys two years ago, Breece Hall had one carry. A couple weeks later, he breaks out and becomes their guy. Now he’s really where things start for them on offense. What is it that he does so well that’s a challenge full on with that veteran offensive line?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, they’re experienced up front. They know how to play. Probably anything you throw at them, they’ve handled before ...
But yeah, he’s just an extraordinary player. He’s a really good football player and can do a lot of things that a back his size normally wouldn’t be able to do, but he can do them. He’s a big back. There’s really not much that we’ve seen that he can’t do. I don’t know how many guys had more yards than him last year in the country, but there couldn’t have been a long list of them, that’s for sure.
Iowa State were lucky and played more games than a lot of teams in the country last year, but there’s no doubt that Hall has talent. I am very excited to see this defensive front attacking him. They were a definite highlight last weekend and I expect that to continue.
Q. Looking at the defensive line unit, to play as many guys as you did for as many snaps as each of them got, what can you say about the maturation process of several of those guys from maybe the midway point of camp to now where you have that much trust in them to play that many snaps?
KIRK FERENTZ: As I said prior to the game, I felt good about — we’ve seen Zach play a lot of football for us and he’s a good player. I felt fairly confident that Noah would play well, that John Waggoner would play well, Joe Evans, because those guys have been out there on the field. But the other guys I was really pleasantly — I don’t want to say surprised, but I was pleased with what we saw.
Again, it wasn’t always pretty, but they were playing hard, and they looked aggressive and they didn’t look like they were like timid or playing on eggshells, and that was really good to see.
So that’s what you hope, but you just never know until they get out there. Same thing with those offensive linemen that hadn’t played. I was trying not to think too hard about how little our tackles had played or one of our guard spots there.
I thought the guys competed, and they did a lot of really good things. So I think those are all things that we can build off of hopefully and keep pushing forward with. One thing I’ve been optimistic about is we have a chance to really improve as a football team hopefully daily and weekly, but that’s all talk and rhetoric if you don’t make it happen. That’s what we’ve got to do.
I truly think the best is yet to come for both of these lines. And honestly, that’s a scary thought. If those two things come together, it might not matter how well Petras or the wideouts play as long as they can manage the game. But the season is young. There’s a lot of football left to play.