Well folks, I’m back from the friendly confines, and boy was that game brutal. It was a win, but it was brutal (at least in the first half). But hey, a win is a win and Iowa is now back in the driver’s seat to win the Big Ten West (what could go wrong?). This week’s opponent (and this offense) could make that dream difficult. A scrappy Rutgers team is coming into Kinnick for a playdate.
Let’s see what Kirk had to say about it, shall we? Check out the full transcript here, and my comments below.
Let’s start with injuries. From the opening statement:
KIRK FERENTZ: Injury-wise right now, I doubt Beau Stephens will be ready. Up in the air. Got a bunch of guys up in the air. It’s that time of year. It was a physical football game. That’s kind of the situation there right now.
The offensive line is banged up. That is just not good, period. This offense literally cannot withstand more injuries.
Q. As far as the offensive line goes, three guys who missed most of the game. I think Rusty came in late. Where did things kind of stand with Logan Jones who had a walking boot, then Mason who has been fighting through an injury?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, time will tell. We’ll see how the week goes here.
It’s November, so we’re dealing with all that stuff. We had a lot of it going into the bye. The bye got a lot of guys cleaned up pretty well, so that helped mentally. We don’t have the luxury of taking a week off now.
The guys are working back. We’ll see who can do what on Saturday. But keep our fingers crossed.
This makes it seem way better than what is being said outside of Kirk Ferentz press conferences so I guess we’ll see, but as far as I know, the offensive line is extremely banged up. Maybe some people will play through injury, I don’t know. They need experienced bodies.
Q. I wanted to ask about Cooper DeJean. He played a little bit on offense. What is your thought moving forward with him? How much can he play on offense? Max number of snaps?
KIRK FERENTZ: I gave the wrong answer the other night. I was reading a couple emails. People suggested, why don’t you get Cooper on offense? (laughter) You’re asking the million dollar question, how many snaps can a guy play. Nile Kinnick played both ways. Game was a little different back then. We didn’t have TV timeouts and games didn’t take six hours to play.
It’s a tough one. I do know this, he’s extremely valuable on defense, extremely valuable on special teams. So where do you give, where do you take? We have a pretty good thing going defensively right now. You’re worried about disrupting that. Same thing on special teams. If we can get the ball in his hands, he gives us a chance as a return guy.
Obviously I think he could really help us offensively. Again, so could Micah Hyde. You have to wait things out and try to make sure you’re trying to do for the overall picture. Nobody knows what the right number is, when a guy’s going to get hurt. You don’t know those things.
But I know this, we’re missing some guys right now that aren’t playing, that aren’t coming back this year. We can’t take another torpedo on that front, I know that.
I was shocked that we actually saw a glimpse of Cooper on offense last weekend. At the time of the game, things were so bad, a friend texted me “We at least got a first down with Cooper in on offense.”
Listen, I get where Kirk is coming from here. Yes, Cooper is valuable on defense. But the defense has other studs. The offense is literally a bare cupboard. The offense needs him most. Play him less on defense. Take him off special teams. I don’t care. If this team is serious about winning, it needs more DeJean on offense. Make the necessary adjustments, Kirk.
Q. I don’t know if Kaleb Johnson was out there for a snap on Saturday. Is he dealing with injury? Coach’s decision?
KIRK FERENTZ: There’s no drama or nothing going on. Just playing the guys right now that have practiced the best and practiced best through the bye week, in our minds have played the best at this point.
It’s an open competition. Everybody has an opportunity out there. It’s day to day, week to week. That’s how we do things. Watching him on film against Rutgers last year, ran the ball well, so hopefully we can get him up and running here. Probably going to need all those guys.
Really proud of Leshon. He had one of the worst plays of the season, and since that play he’s bounced back and really played well. That’s what good players do. Proud of the way he’s handled that. Hopefully he’ll continue to keep playing like he has been, really help us out.
Does this seem weird as hell to anyone else, or it is just me? I just do not understand this at all.
Q. Your message for your team, three games left, all the goals seem to be out in front of you, but there’s a razor thin margin. How are you handling this approach? Is it game by game or mentioning what the goal might be at the end of the rainbow?
KIRK FERENTZ: These guys are all in college, they know what is going on big picture-wise. We’re not in the BCS title hunt, whatever that show is they got going.
My observations going back to ‘08, when you start getting involved in discussions about that, pretty soon you find yourself you’re out of that discussion real quickly. We should be three instead of two. Two instead of three is what the argument would be. Remember that one in ‘08. You start getting distracted by that kind of stuff, next thing you know you get knocked right on your tail.
That’s how this conference is, that’s how college football is right now. There’s nothing easy about any game unless you aren’t competing in it. Razor thin.
I was thinking about that earlier when we were talking about Cooper. We live in the world of razor thin. For like 25 years, that’s where we’ve been. Actually longer than that. Everything’s important. We’re not good enough to take our eye off anything, other than the target. That’s really been the message.
We have to really worry about getting better, doing everything we can do to get ready for Rutgers, because we’re going to have our hands full like we did last Saturday. I predict if we have three games left, it will be that way all three games.
Jesus Christ, he mentioned the BCS. There’s no way he still thinks that is a thing. This message is accurate, and that’s what is frustrating. I’m beating a dead horse at this point, but if this team even had an average offense, the razor thin margin wouldn’t be as prevalent. You know why there’s a razor thin margin? Because that’s how the coach wants it. And that’s how you lose to Minnesota because of a single call.
Q. Kaleb Brown gets his first catch at Iowa wearing a different number. Thoughts on that play specifically, but also him getting his first catch at Iowa?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, it looked like a football play. Good protection. Deacon stepped up and threw the ball, made a very nice throw. You hope a receiver, that’s why they call them receivers, you hope they’ll receive the ball and secure it.
I think the more impressive part, he fought for four or five yards after he got the ball. That was critical at that point. We were confident we didn’t have to move it too far, but to move it without putting things at risk.
It was a great play. The play overall was a great play. It was good for him to break in, if you will. I didn’t realize it was his first catch until after the game. That’s a good start. Hopefully more to follow.
“It looked like a football play.” What an absolute troll answer for no reason at all. This was a good play though. Need more from Kaleb Brown for sure. This gives me hope that maybe he’s going to stick around.
Q. You’ve mentioned Kaleb Brown is young, inexperienced at receiver. You’re leaning on him in one of the most crucial plays of the game. That’s not a position that he’s been in. Did that have to do with...
KIRK FERENTZ: And years past he didn’t play (smiling).
Q. Did that have to do with Vines being banged up or some growth you’ve seen him? Why was he on the field at that point?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, Diante was out at that point. It’s next man in, next man up. We talk about it all the time. Some guys listen better than others. If you do get opportunity, you never know when it’s going to come typically. It is opportunity, opportunity to do something, get noticed, get noticed in a positive way.
He came up big-time. That was a critical play in the game. It allowed us to be in a position where we didn’t have to go into overtime, which is positive.
It’s him working every day. He is not an infant as a receiver, but it’s really the first year he’s really been in the deal. Last year, I don’t know extensively, where he was on the depth chart, but he certainly wasn’t out there in critical times.
Right now he’s getting the work. He’s doing a really good job. He’s got good ability, good attitude. Hopefully now it’s just a matter of...
I got done talking about Jay, his ascension the last year and a half, hopefully we’ll see the same thing with Kaleb. He’s got an opportunity here.
I really hope this might have been a turning point for Kaleb Brown. I really do. There’s a huge chance to be the No. 1 receiver target next year if things continue to work out. If he can be a good target, maybe this offense can finally change under whoever is the new coordinator.
Q. If you get Noah Shannon back, considering two weeks ago when they said two weeks, what would he really add to this team and this defense?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, feels like Fantasy Football. None of us are getting our hopes up too high based on the way things go with the NCAA.
It would be great to get him back. He’s a tremendous young person. You have Nico and Joe, who are both six-year seniors. Noah is right there in their class. They’re all outstanding team members. Noah is a really good football player. He started practicing here a couple weeks ago, looks great. It would be great.
To me, it’s personal commentary, I think it’s the right thing to do. I’m not confident that’s going to happen. But there’s no doubt in my mind it would be the right thing to do.
We’ll keep our fingers crossed.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD FREE NOAH SHANNON