Well folks, it’s hate week. The week of the game that makes literally no sense whatsoever. I hate this week, but also this year, it kinda seems tame??? Maybe it’s because I’m no longer on Twitter, and therefore don’t see any Cyclone stupidity? I’m not sure.
Regardless, it’s also Week 2 of the young season and...everything is basically the exact same as it was last year? It’s still to early to say definitively, but paint me at least somewhat concerned. But don’t listen to me, let’s hear what the head honcho has to say from his press conference! Check out the full transcript here, and my highlights below.
Let’s start with one of what I thought remained the weakest areas last weekend: offensive line play.
Q. After evaluating the play of the offensive line and the run game, was it a matter of mostly gaining points and missed opportunities more than it was physical errors that are beyond correction?
KIRK FERENTZ: I didn’t see a lot of physical stuff, but more it was a tough preparation for us defensively. We felt pretty good about what to expect of their offense, a lot of returning players, and certainly the system that Coach Anderson has had with him for quite some time.
Then on defense we didn’t know what to expect and got some looks almost maybe, I don’t want to say we weren’t prepared for, but there’s some things we might have done differently maybe in retrospect had we known what to expect a little bit more.
All in all, we saw a lot of good things out there. Nothing that can’t be improved upon and fixed, so nothing too bad.
That’s more of a positive spin than I would put on the run protection, but ok. I’m pretty sure we heard last season that things could be improved upon and well...
Q. Do you expect more production from the run game this week considering you do know Iowa State a little better than you expected last week?
KIRK FERENTZ: The challenge is they make it really tough to run, and they’ve done a great job of that. It’s kind of ironic, you think of the front, I think people refer to it as the three-three stack. You think of that being like a pass to spread offensive front, but they do a great job of getting three guys to the ball.
The one thing about them, which I can say this, the last five years they’ve really tackled well at all positions, and you can’t say that about every football team. In fact, there’s some you can’t say that about at all. They’ve done a great job of that. They’re great at getting guys free to the ball, and then they don’t miss tackles.
So long story long...no, do not expect more production from the run game? That’s great!
Q. Seems like pass protection took a step up. What do you think kind of led to that big jump from last year to this year?
KIRK FERENTZ: It’s kind of like I’ve been saying. We’re a more mature group now. We’re a little bit more experienced and more capable. It’s pretty much the same guys, throwing Rusty Feth on top of it, but same guys that have been here. They’ve been able to practice a little bit. They’re a little older and stronger. We’re a more physically mature team at that position especially.
I think that’s a big part of that. Especially line play in both lines, that’s a really big factor.
I will say here that the offensive line did look much improved in pass protection, which is good! I personally think we need to see more of Rusty Feth but that’s just me. Part of the problem in my opinion is that too many guys are getting rotated in and out of the line. There’s no cohesion. Hopefully that’s just an early season thing as we wait for the dust to kind of settle. It does usually take a Kirk Ferentz line a chunk of the season to improve.
Q. Will it be a similar rotation with the offensive line this week as we saw last week with Elsbury in at right guard?
KIRK FERENTZ: We’ll see how it goes this week. Right now, if we’re playing six, seven, eight guys, we’re doing it because we feel they can go on and compete, not because we’re fishing around to find something that might work.
But the guys you saw Saturday did a capable job, and hopefully they’ll all continue to improve as we go.
Well, we’ll see how that continues to go then!
Let’s talk QB! (As always!)
Q. Cade McNamara — what’s the workload been like this week? Is it full go? Did you try to manage it?
KIRK FERENTZ: He has an injury, so we’re managing it all season long. That’s my guess, or at least until it heals. We’ll manage it and try to be smart about it.
Q. How has he been looking so far?
KIRK FERENTZ: He’s looking okay. He’s sore, I can tell you that. Predictably, he’s sore.
All season long is not great! Obviously no matter how you look at it, McNamara is an improvement over Spencer Petras. No doubt. But man, it would suck to have him come here and be hampered all season long.
Q. What about backup quarterback? We saw Deacon out there. Is Joe maybe ascending? Is there a competition there at number 2?
KIRK FERENTZ: Deacon benefited from Cade being out, and Cade was out like all of two weeks. That gave Deacon a chance to get a lot of quality work, like Joe did in December. Unfortunately Joe was out, and now Joe is back. Both of them are moving forward. If one of them is in the game, we’ll be ready to roll.
We’re practicing with those guys right now, and hopefully they’ll both be amply prepared.
Nice dodge here. I guess competition for backup is not a bad thing, though.
Q. Quarterback sneak has been a huge play for you guys the last three or four years, I mean really big. Is it off the table?
KIRK FERENTZ: I don’t think I’m sharing too much about our playbook. I guess anybody who saw it Saturday, we probably would have done it on fourth and one and quick gone out there and snapped the ball, but yeah, it’s really not on the menu right now.
You’re benefitting from experience, but you’re not benefitting from that play for sure. We’re not going to have him bootleg and the Chuck Long play from 85, probably won’t pull that one.
Q. Maybe replace the QB sneak then?
KIRK FERENTZ: We’ll have to take that one to the drawing board. I’m not sure about that one. We’ll see.
WHY WOULD YOU REVEAL THIS KIRK? I find this extremely surprising. Like, why the fuck would you not bring in a giant QB like Deacon Hill for a sneak in this situation? Sure, they might know what you’re going to run, but you’re trusting your QB and their strength in a sneak situation like this anyways, so what difference does it make? I get not using Cade, but man! This is weird.
Q. Have you and Matt Campbell talked at all this summer about your frustrations with the gambling investigation?
KIRK FERENTZ: No. I’ve got a lot of respect for Coach Campbell. Saw him at the state clinic back in February, early March, like March 2. We see each other there, typically bump into each other in recruiting, but otherwise we’re both in our worlds. A lot of respect for him certainly in their program.
Gotta ask this question, but I don’t know what kind of answer anyone expected to get lol.
Q. How is Sebastian Castro impacting this year?
KIRK FERENTZ: I think that was his real game where he played with confidence. Ever since then, he’s been a different player. I’m not saying like here to there, but he just ties in with the earlier question about just experience. Sometimes you have to do it on the field. At some point you have to get out there and do something good, and he did that in the bowl game a couple times.
I think he has a well grounded sense of confidence now, so he’s playing faster, more decisively. Again, he’s an older guy. He’s a senior. So I think all that stuff kind of at some point comes together for you. You never know when that’s going to be.
That’s the fun part about watching all this. You just never know when a guy is going to start hitting his stride. When they do, it’s fun. It’s fun for them. It’s fun to watch them feel like they’re starting to get it.
Love this. I thought Castro played a fantastic game on Saturday. They will need him to be a difference-maker this year.
Q. Cade had mentioned part of the reason you guys are stretching the field a little bit more than maybe you had last year is some of the isolation looks and how he has confidence in the receivers to go up and make a play. How important is it going to be to continue to get the perimeter guys more involved to potentially open up some more running lanes and help you guys move the ball?
KIRK FERENTZ: That’s just good offense, in my opinion. Again, just going back to last year, we had one scholarship receiver in the first game. With all due respect to the guys we had, but there’s a difference. We have a little healthier group right now and a little bit more group that has more potential maybe to be productive.
A lot of those guys had to earn their way up. Nico’s certainly a better player than he was four years ago, so that’s a good thing. Diante has had some hardships with injuries and crazy things. To have him out there healthy is good. Then you pick up Seth and Kaleb, those are good additions. Alec Wick, I think, is a much better player than he was a year ago.
Now you have some guys out there. You have a couple of tight ends that are capable of playing well. Think we’ve got a line, and we have good backs. So it’s just a matter of piecing things together. Hopefully it all complements each other, and then whatever they choose to take away, hopefully we can find some success in those other areas.
LAST YEAR’S PROBLEMS OFFENSIVELY WERE NOT ONLY BECAUSE OF LACK OF RECEIVERS. Yes, the injuries impacted them BUT THAT’S NOT THE QUESTION HERE. MOVE ON FROM LAST YEAR.
That being said, receiver play wasn’t top-notch last weekend by any means. There’s room for improvement there. It’s not like we’ve all of the sudden got all-world receivers out there. Have they improved? Yes. But let’s not act like Randy Moss is suddenly on the team.
GO HAWKS, BEAT STATE!!