Well folks, the Iowa Hawkeyes are somehow 5-1 and we’re back for another week of coach speak central...I mean Kirk Ferentz press conference recap. This week, Iowa heads on the road for a game that pretty much defines the season (in my opinion). A win here pretty much wins the West (on paper). But since when do we have confidence in that happening?
But, don’t take my pessimistic outlook of it. Let’s see what Kirk has to say, no? Full transcript here, my snarky highlights below.
Let’s start with this from the opening statement:
KIRK FERENTZ: And then some recent developments that I’ll share, Noah Shannon has been cleared to practice. I don’t know what we’ll learn or when we’ll learn his status moving forward. But at least we have him on the field now. He’s back on the roster and able to be part of the team as a football player instead of a guy helping out a little bit. So that’s positive, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed as we move forward.
This is great news! Honestly, six games is more than enough punishment for his particular case. Let him play.
Q. With Noah, how much time will it take, obviously he’s missed a lot, to get up to game speed?
COACH FERENTZ: I really don’t know. We’ve never been in this situation. He missed a lot of time. He has a great attitude. He’s been around and was working through an injury probably couldn’t play physically until a couple of weeks ago. Hasn’t been in pads in quite a while now.
So we’ll see. But I don’t know even when the decision is going to be made so at least we have ample time to get him ready, hopefully.
So, cleared to practice but no other decision and no timing on the decision. The NCAA is aware how long the season is, right? Knowing that institution, they probably don’t, honestly.
Let’s talk QB (as we always seem to do):
Q. After watching the film, what is your message to Deacon, maybe trying to fix some of the mistakes or trying too hard?
COACH FERENTZ: I think he’s probably pressing a little bit. And I can’t read minds but my guess he’s a very prideful guy, and he wants to do like all of our guys do. So I think he’s probably pressing a little bit.
Secondly is he hasn’t played since 2020. That was three high school games, COVID shortened year. Spring season, and I guess he played — I did hear a rumor, I asked him a little bit about it, some kind of wild card team or wildcat, a guy from here or a guy from there, one of those deals, I don’t know who they played.
Point being, he hasn’t played much in the last couple years. So this is kind of his maiden voyage. We may have to be a little patient. Did a lot of good things. The pick that he had was a tough play for him.
So I thought he made some good decisions, just didn’t quite have the accuracy he’s capable of. Hopefully that will work itself out as we move forward.
This is a very fair point to make, I’d say. He’s obviously not “supposed” to be playing right now. We can give him some time to adjust. That being said, his performance last week was abysmal, so hopefully things change VERY quickly.
Q. What’s your message right now to the receivers. They didn’t catch a pass the other day for the first time in this program since the ‘70s in a game. But they’ve had opportunities. They’ve slipped through their fingers. But also haven’t been targeted a lot. What are you trying to do with the receivers and what are you trying to say to keep them engaged?
COACH FERENTZ: I hope they are engaged. I believe they are. And that stuff is all going to play out the way it plays out. Saturday the way the game developed, we were playing in a way that we felt gave us our best chance to win in that particular ball game.
You never know how it’s going to unfold or what it’s going to look like. And we were having pretty good luck with the running game at that point. It’s the way it worked out.
We’re not going to change our overall philosophy a lot. And everybody’s got a role, a chance, an opportunity. And hopefully when it comes their way they’ll be able to execute the way we think they can. They’re good players. They’ll bounce back.
“I hope they’re engaged.” Jesus. Could you blame them if they’re not?
Sure Kirk, it’s true, you never know how a game is going to unfold, but it is shocking how it seems like we’re the only school in all of NCAA football that has it shake out where the receivers hardly get any targets or do anything. The receivers have obviously been good, but also it might be because...I don’t know...they don’t get any targets so when they do, they’re shell shocked and drop the ball?
Q. Speaking of wide receivers, Kaleb Brown, are you able to elaborate on his situation? Is he available for this week?
COACH FERENTZ: Yes, it was a personal matter. He’s back at practice yesterday and has had two good days.
Q. Would you describe his absence as disciplinary in any way?
COACH FERENTZ: No, I would say it was a personal matter.
Ok then! I still personally think he might be gone after this year but, who knows!
Q. What’s the magnitude of this game? Who knows, maybe this could be what determines who wins this division. I know it’s just one of 12, but just overall, Iowa, Wisconsin, what’s the magnitude of that?
COACH FERENTZ: It’s a rivalry game. We have a trophy. I do know that. I’m losing track of the rivalries thing.
I know this, it’s a border game when I got here in ‘81, it was a big game back then. It’s always been that way. It’s been a pretty good series overall, time, history, at least my 34 years involved in it. So that part’s good.
It’s a big game. We both have one loss now. They have a good team. We’re trying to become a good team. To worry about anything besides that, it’s a conference game. Conference games are different than non-league games. They all count in the end. But conference games are important.
It’s about where it’s at, and any worry about rankings and pennant races, all that stuff, that in my mind comes in November. Right now we’re just trying to move forward here and see if we can find a way to win.
BREAKING NEWS: KIRK FERENTZ KNOWS IOWA VS. WISCONSIN GAME HAS A TROPHY.
This is the most Captain Obvious answer of all time in myriad places. But I mostly included this because of the last paragraph. Sure, it’s not impossible for Iowa to still win the West if they lose this game, but it’s a lot harder, for sure. Kirk said a couple weeks ago that any time he steps on the field it’s about winning. Sure, he says he’s trying to win, but everyone with a brain can see how bad the West is this year. I get that he’s maybe not going to outright say it, but come on. Act like you care.
Q. When you look at the running game, obviously being a catalyst in the past game, how can that help in not having to rely so much on that big arm?
COACH FERENTZ: In a perfect world you want to be balanced. At least that’s our goal is to try to have the threat to run and pass. And sometimes your opponent dictates how it’s going to go, either going into a game or during the game.
And pretty much anybody can take something away if they’re committed to it. And hopefully it opens up something else. But in a perfect world, we’d like to be balanced. We’ve certainly been going through some adjustments and trying to get settled and acclimated with our personnel.
And so hopefully as we move forward here the second half of the season we can be a little bit more settled and just kind of get some consistency and figure out what works best for us.
And Saturday happened to be running game was going a little bit, but each and every week can be a little different. Hopefully we’ll have flexibility enough to be able to adjust and be successful.
This is the Kirk Ferentz football philosophy in a nutshell. I will say though, it was great to see a better run game last week. It will be much harder this week to get it going, but hopefully it won’t be Penn State bad. We’ll see, I guess.
Let’s end with this:
Q. We’re less than a week from Coach Bluder and the gang over at the stadium for Crossover. I know you’re focused in on football. Do you have any plans to watch that on Sunday?
COACH FERENTZ: I think that’s awesome. Hopefully the weather is good for them. I know the wrestling guys did it a couple of years ago. It’s awesome.
What a great idea. I don’t know who thought of it but a great idea. I’m sure it will be well received.
Apparently he won’t be attending. I will be. It will be awesome.