Hello again. It’s Week 2 of the college football season. Iowa is 1-0 (though based on their play, maybe they shouldn’t be), the offense is awful, and everyone is very happy about the direction of the season after one week, right?
Let’s see what the man in charge, Kirk Ferentz, has to say about things. Is he worried? I think you know the answer to that. And, stayed tuned to the end for an incredible insight from Ferentz. Highlights below, full transcript here.
You know we’re going to start with an injury update:
Q. What’s the latest on Keagan right now health-wise?
KIRK FERENTZ: He still hasn’t been with the team. He hasn’t practiced with the team. He’s with the team but hasn’t practiced, so I don’t think this week you can expect him.
Q. How many more weeks do you think it’ll be?
KIRK FERENTZ: I wish I was that smart. It’s whenever he’s ready. He’ll be ready hopefully soon.
The weirdness continues here. He hasn’t practiced, but it’s “whenever he’s ready.” The message room chatter is interesting on this...I guess we’ll see where it goes.
Q. Is there a health update on Jestin Jacobs and Jermari Harris?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, they’re both — Jestin will not make it and Jermari is very doubtful, so we’ll learn a little bit more today, but yeah, not optimistic on that.
We can’t catch a break this year apparently.
Q. I saw that you have Gavin Williams in the two deep; is he questionable or full —
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, hopefully we’ll get him back. I think we’re optimistic there. But we’ll know more here as the week goes on.
That sounds promising!
Q. What about Yahya Black. Is he out?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, he unfortunately injured his foot during the game. I think it’s going to be a matter of weeks probably with him. That moves Louie Stec up, and Aaron Graves will probably be in that mix, too.
Again, not promising! And finally for injuries:
Q. Receiver-wise, obviously everyone is dying to know when reinforcements are on the way, but is Ragaini on track for next week? And Vines’ name came up today. I know he’s not in your future, but what’s his timetable?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, so he’s probably further down the road. I can’t tell you when. Nico is improving and gaining ground, so that’s reason to be optimistic. But I don’t know if it’ll be next week, the week after. But somewhere down the road he’ll be back I’m confident this month. I think we got time for that.
Ok, so end of September. A timetable is good in this instance, I suppose. More opportunities for the young guys at receiver...if they ever get targeted. Onto the next hot button issue!
Q. When you evaluate what Spencer did on Saturday, what did you see that kind of warrants him staying in that position, and is it more the equity that he’s built over two-plus years that’s kind of kept him there rather than making a full-fledged open competition?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, I think it is full-fledged. In my mind it is, and every player builds a resume when they’re here through the way they practice and when they play. We see more practice than we do game competition.
But I think he’s done a lot of good things for us, and he did some good things Saturday. Some things he could have done better. I think overall right now I think our biggest challenge is just a little bit like last year, is just team execution right now, and I want to give him a fair assessment just like I would anybody that’s in there.
Woof. A lot to unpack here. First: care to elaborate on the good things he did during the game, coach? Second, we’re basically hearing that all that matters is practice in this program, so that’s really cool. And third, what constitutes a fair assessment? He’s been the starter for two seasons now!
Q. Spencer obviously didn’t have his best performance last week. How long of a leash does he have if things aren’t going well against Iowa State?
KIRK FERENTZ: Our intention right now is to go out and play, and we’ll evaluate everything as it comes.
That’s not prominent in my thoughts right now. My thoughts are more in terms of our entire group. Hopefully we can give them a plan that they can execute well, and if we play well cohesively, I expect him to play well in his role, and that’s the biggest thing right now is to give him a little bit more help.
Care to define ‘as it comes’? Sounds like it’s 100% Petras, folks. But who knows.
Q. It’s not unusual that an offensive line can be a little sloppy in the opener until they get their chemistry and techniques down. It seemed a little more sloppy than normal, I thought, the other day. How did you assess it, and is Jennings Dunker part of it, or he seemed to play well, or is he hurt, too?
KIRK FERENTZ: He’s been hurt, but he’s not hurt ... To the hurt part, we’ve had a lot of guys hurt over the past year, and you think about Jennings missed pretty much last year, so this is like his first year of playing, quite frankly, in a lot of ways. Beau, same way. A lot of our younger guys last year just missed a lot of time. Really unusual year. I don’t know if it was a COVID afterburn or what.
They’re really young, and everybody is competing, though. We have a group of 8-10 guys that are competing for playing time, and I anticipate that being a little bit of a fluid process.
Then Part B of that, and I can’t remember if I mentioned this last Tuesday, but you watch a guy like Logan Jones, who’s probably a pretty good metaphor for our offense in some ways, you watch him operate — we watch practice a lot. We see practice. We do it every day. You guys get a small window. But he handles himself in such a proficient, productive way. He’s a really good football player and a good practice player.
I caught myself the end of last week remembering this is this guy’s first year of playing — first game playing really, and first time he’s played center, and Linderbaum went through the same thing three, four years ago.
He didn’t have his best game, and I think he’ll take a big jump. I’m confident he will ...
He’s not the only guy in that ballpark. There’s a lot of those pictures across the board. That’s our challenge. That’s the race that we’re running right now. The clock is sitting there 3:05 for Saturday, so we don’t have a lot of time, so we’ve got to speed that process up as much as we can.
Ok, so expect the offensive line to continue to be fluid. Not great, because we need a strong line right now, but hopefully this week will be better than last week. Thankfully, we’ll have another home crowd for a more cohesive unit to gel. This line has potential, but man, it’s rough so far.
Q. Xavier Hutchinson is one of the better receivers in the country. I don’t know how much you’ve watched their offense —
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, enough to know who he is, and be worried about him.
Q. What challenge does he present for your secondary, and especially because there’s some new faces there?
KIRK FERENTZ: He’s a really good football player, and then on top of it they do a really good job of moving him around, so he’s not always in plays. You don’t know where he’s going to show up, and they did a nice job the other day of getting a personnel mismatch and they made the opponent pay for it ... He knows how to get open. He’s a really good player, and they use him well in their scheme. That’s for sure.
This is definitely a matchup to watch. I’ll take our defense, though.
Q. Considering they don’t have the tight ends that they did last year and without Jestin Jacobs, do you anticipate this being more of a cash type of defense this week because they do run three wide receiver sets?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, we’ll see how it plays out, but if they’re in three wides we’ll probably be in cash. That’s kind of a common thing for us.
But they’ll do some two tight end stuff and get heavier, and those guys did a good job Saturday. If they do that, we’ll make our adjustment with our personnel, be it Logan Klemp, or we’ve got some position flexibility with some of the other guys. We’ll figure that out. But it will probably be a mix for us on Saturday like most times.
No surprise here, but good insight.
And finally, the revelation you’ve all been waiting for. First some context, then the revelation:
Q. This game hasn’t been played here in almost four years. Some of the guys haven’t even played this game at Kinnick Stadium. What does it mean to your team to get this one at Kinnick finally?
KIRK FERENTZ: ...for us looking back historically, we got last year and then, whoa, it felt like 10 years ago, the ‘19 game. It took 10 years to play it on top of it. (Laughter.)
...It’s still Iowa-Iowa State and it’s a big game for everybody in the state. It’s certainly a big game for both programs. I don’t want to speak for their side, but I’m sure they’re like us, everybody on our team wants to win this game. They want to win it.
It’s a big game. It’s another cool aspect about it. I think it’s probably the only BCS Power Five intrastate rivalry where teams are in different conferences. I think that’s still true. I probably should check my little roadmap thing.
KIRK FERENTZ: I can’t keep track. There was a time where people were in the same conference in the same state except for us. Now I’m dating myself, okay. Still a cool rivalry.
BREAKING NEWS TO SOME (one): IOWA AND IOWA STATE NOT THE ONLY IN-STATE RIVALS IN DIFFERENT CONFERENCES IN THE -checks notes- BCS.