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Another week of moments from Kirk that really make you think

Northwestern v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Hey, Iowa won! And they looked halfway decent doing it! Who knew that was possible?

Well, Kirk Ferentz did apparently. It was all about that practice and execution baby...and the fact that they played an absolute trash Northwestern Wildcats squad. If you can make this offense look comfortable and confident, you’re not great.

But who knows, maybe it’s the start of something new? Well, this weekend Iowa travels to West Lafayette for a matchup against OMHR and Our Most Recently Departed Wide Receiver Charlie Jones, soooo, let’s see if we can actually beat a somewhat competent team, first.

Let’s get into it, shall we? Full transcript here, snark below -snort-

Starting with injury news:

Q. To clarify, I’m assuming that means no Roberts, Dunker, Keagan?

KIRK FERENTZ: Dunker might have a chance. Supposed to get back on the field tomorrow. We’ll see. The other guys, I don’t foresee that coming right now.

Well, glad we got to see Keagan once this season.

Q. Do you have any hamstring issues that have ever approached what Keagan Johnson’s dealt with?

KIRK FERENTZ: He’s had a series of injuries. It’s not just one thing. Most recently it’s been the hamstring.

I’m thinking about Ohio State’s No. 11 played against us. I don’t know why I heard this or read this, but somewhere after last week’s game he reinjured his. I think he’s played in three games. Hamstrings are just funny. A lot of bad injuries to have; that might be the worst as far as I can tell. They can be really frustrating.

Oooo, a Kegan follow-up question! This is kind of hinting at what we’ve heard across the inter-web of the whole Kawhi Leonard-ish nature to this injury of Keagan’s. “Hamstrings are just funny,” AKA my medical team says he’s ok to play, but he says he isn’t.

Just enter the portal if you’re going to leave.

Let’s get into the meat of what you’re here for:

Q. You’ve taken a few players from the transfer portal. Also lost a pretty good quarterback to the transfer portal six or seven years ago. Were you surprised when one of your receivers, especially when Charlie left as late as he did, and what’s been the impact he’s had at Purdue since he’s left?

KIRK FERENTZ: Obviously you look at the stats. He’s playing well. He’s a good football player. Doesn’t surprise us at all. ‘Surprised’ is probably a strong word. I think the way college football is evolving right now, if you’re surprised by much that happens in terms of player movement and those types of things, probably shame on you.

So, shame on you then, Kirk?

I don’t know if ‘surprise’ is the right word, but the timing. To me, if you think a guy is going to leave a program, you would do it back in the wintertime, get there, go through the spring practice, start learning the offense, that type of thing, also their system, get to know his teammates.

Doesn’t seem like it’s affected him. He’s playing really good right now. He’s a good football player. We’re going to have to try to do a good job of defending him on defense and also the special teams aspect.

Gee, it’s almost like other teams don’t have unnecessarily complex offenses that A) Work and B) actually score points???? What a concept! Our NFL style-offense really puts a lot of QBs into the league!

Q. How do you recruit and retain wide receivers when they can look at what Charlie did, then takes off in a different program?

KIRK FERENTZ: We’ll never know what would have happened if he was here. We saw him make great improvement I thought this spring. We were really excited about that. Then he’s not here. There’s not much you can say about that.

“We’ll never know what would have happened if he was here.” Actually, we all do. He’d have wayyyyyyyy less catches, yards, and touchdowns than he does at Purdue.

Q. Do you ever say to yourself maybe you should have used him more?

KIRK FERENTZ: I would argue he’s a much better player than he was. I thought he was a much better at the end of spring practice as a receiver. Upper echelon return guy. He’s been really good. Obviously that was very evident going back to early 2020. But he’s really progressed as a receiver. Not saying he was a bad receiver then, but he’s a much better one, much better in April.

Here’s the tough thing about Charlie Jones. I can’t fault him for leaving for greener (golder?) pastures for myriad reasons. His absence particularly sucks with all the wideout injuries early on. But thinking back, I think the question is more of why Iowa didn’t see Charlie as a main receiver kind of guy as opposed to someone like Tyrone Tracy and gave him more of a shot. It was clear he had been surpassed at the time, but looks absolutely terrible in hindsight for so many reasons.

Q. Do you think this could negatively impact you from a recruiting perspective when it comes to receivers when they see what he did when he was here versus what he’s doing at Purdue?

KIRK FERENTZ: We’ll worry about that later on. Right now, we’re just trying to worry about Purdue.

It’s hard to quantify all that stuff. Again, I would just suggest, me personally, I think he’s a better receiver, was a better receiver at the end of spring practice than he was at the start. Like a lot of our players. A lot of our players grow and develop as they go through their careers. Same thing about Jack Campbell. Talk about good players, he’s a better player now than he was two years ago, going through every phase. It’s important.

You think about Charlie, started out at Maxwell. I don’t know if he walked on up there. I think I heard that. He’s a guy who has just done that, ascended. Shift over, George Kittle, was a good player when he left here. I would argue he’s a much better player now. Good players ascend. That’s part of the process.

Add ‘impacts on recruiting’ to the list of things that can only be handled in the offseason, I guess. Kirk again talks about Charlie’s improvement in the spring. So, why did he leave then if it was so clear to everyone how much he had improved? Surely Kirk knows how to put the best talent on the field at all times regardless of pre-conceived notions, RIGHT?

Also, I legitimately laughed at comparing Charlie Jones to George Kittle. Of course he’s a much better player now. He’s actually being properly utilized.

Q. We talked a lot this season about finding some sort of stability and momentum on the offensive line. Do you feel the line right now is as stable as it’s been all season? Can you talk about what you see on film?

KIRK FERENTZ: As crazy as it sounds, I think we learned a little something in the Ohio State game, maybe gained a little traction. There wasn’t a lot good there from an offensive standpoint.

Yeah, I think making the moves that we did make, I think at least what we did Saturday, I don’t want to say we’re settled in right now, but that’s probably where we’re at right now.

I think you learn about your players with each and every opportunity. Connor looks a little bit more comfortable in there. He’s a good football player. Our objective is to get him where he can play his best. I think that’s probably where he’ll be.

Stephens is the same way. We’re going to keep him in one position, he’s so young. Then we have flexibility with Plumb can go either side, DeJong can go in and out. That’s probably the end of the discussion right there. That’s where we’re at.

If you ask me, this is probably the “final form” of this line, but we’ll have to see. Still a lot of games left to continue tweaking, but it’s November now. If you’re still tweaking your offensive line in November, you’ve got some problems.

Let’s end with this:

Q. George Barnett’s style, a little bit more cerebral than Tim Polasek. Is that accurate?

KIRK FERENTZ: They’re very different personalities. They’re both good coaches, though. Tim, he wanted to be a coordinator, which I understand. Felt better professionally. He was a guy we transformed into a line coach I guess. I think that probably helped him a little bit.

This is what George has done. George was weaned on that, if you will. He’s an excellent teacher. That really jumped out in the interview. He’s been that way ever since.

Obviously has the patience of a saint. It’s been tough. I’ve been there. I think I alluded to this, 1983 we graduated seven seniors out of 10, which is not good. That next year, boy, we were in a very similar circumstance. We just worked through it. A year later we were in the Rose Bowl with some pretty good senior linemen, seniors and juniors. We got through it, did okay.

Oh yes, let’s throw some snark out here Kirk. So much to unpack here. First:

Second, Barnett is a SAINT, apparently. High praise! Third, love a good mention of the 80’s in the 2020’s. This is a big “fuck off” to everyone. “Hey, in the 80’s we sucked for a season, and then we got to the Rose Bowl!” Ok, I’m penciling in a NY6 appearance next year then. Better win the West, too. Probably won’t happen if you don’t have that extra bowl practice this this year kinda matters!

This is a big, big weekend for this team. Bowl eligibility is on the table this weekend, because I don’t really see two more guaranteed wins after this. Another loss — especially to Purdue — and all the goodwill earned last week will be erased. Be careful though if that happens, media - make sure to watch your tone!