Kirk Ferentz talked to the assembled media Tuesday. Here's what we learned.
The obvious focus of the press conference was potential injuries to Brandon Scherff and Drew Ott. Reports earlier in the day were that Scherff had minor knee surgery on Tuesday morning and that Ott had been in a moped accident at about the same time. The only thing missing on both fronts was confirmation from the school.
Ferentz wasn't going to give either one away, even though everyone pretty much already had both stories. On Scherff:
Q. Coach, did Scherff have surgery this morning?
I think maybe if you check with KCRG they're the ones I read this morning that released something on that, so they can probably fill you in on any details you might need.
A quick note: The reporter asking the question was from KCRG. Yeah, it's going to be one of THOSE press conferences.
Q. Will he play on Saturday?
We don't know that. He's day to day right now. He was injured Saturday, and we have a couple guys that are stiff and sore right now. We'll see how it goes.
He was slightly less dodgy on Ott:
Q. Coach, was Ott in a moped accident? Is he going to be available on Saturday?
I read that this morning, too. That was in a police report, so I assume that is public knowledge. He was in a moped accident. Scary moment. We've had several players since I've been here involved in those. Fortunately, he's doing well. Saw him this morning, and he's sore. Mentioned we've got a couple of guys that are sore and stiff. We're two games into it so we're hoping he'll be able to play.
Q. Did he have any major injuries?
No, couple of stitches. He's very fortunate.
I suppose there's still a hint of mystery with Scherff, in that his was a medical procedure and those records aren't released to the public without consent, but there doesn't seem to be much upside in playing hide-the-ball with his condition beyond simple gamesmanship. I mean, Scherff talked to a reporter about his condition and basically took himself out of the Iowa State game...
Q. Brandon apparently spoke to that reporter. I don't know if you saw that quote?
I did not, no.
Q. He told the reporter he'd be ready for the Pittsburgh game. How do you respond to him talking to a reporter and what he said?
We're going to take it day by day.
...so either Ferentz is in denial about Scherff's condition, he and Scherff are participating in the dumbest long con in the history of football, or he's lying when he says that Scherff is day to day. It's both so dumb and so Ferentz, to the point where he couldn't keep up the guise throughout. During a question about Jordan Canzeri, Ferentz hinted that he'd withheld information on a camp injury:
[A]s you probably found out, I don't give you every detail on injuries. We've had guys that have been in and out of camp and what have you. For a guy that misses time, sometimes that impedes their ability to get to the field, but I don't disagree. Jordan has given us a spark. He's done some really good things for us and we're hoping we can see that role continue and grow as we move forward.
One more thing on Scherff: Ferentz still has him listed a a captain, which would not normally be the case if he's injured. Again, the denial runs deep on this one.
Ferentz actually opened the press conference with the news that linebacker Josey Jewell could play Saturday. He also did acknowledge some injuries that we weren't sure about. Jay Scheel, the true freshman wide receiver, is "still months away" from participating and has to be a redshirt at this point. Riley McCarron and Riley McMinn are both out for this week, making Iowa the first team in history to have two Riley Micks sitting out the same game due to injury. He also mentioned that "we have a lot of guys that are day to day," so there could be some injury issues beyond that.
All of the injury questions started the press conference and set the tone for a day in which Ferentz was pretty much going to say nothing at all. The only thing this press conference had were buckets of references to old Ferentz teams.
Ferentz admitted that the play of backup left tackle Ike Boettger in Scherff's absence Saturday was great, and that it reminded him of Riley Reiff's play in Bryan Bulaga's absence during the 2009 season. It should. The parallels are kind of creepy.
He wasn't particularly happy with the number of passes -- "the reference went back to 2000 over at Indiana is what I think I read in the game notes, which was a loss, and that's more typical when you throw the ball that often unless that's just how you're buiit, which we're not" -- and I'd expect a healthy dose of the run this week against Iowa State. Ferentz did say that Ball State was gearing toward the run:
I think specifically Saturday that was their plan coming in. They were not going to let us run the football, and they did a good job of it in a multitude of ways. That was a tough preparation, quite frankly. So bottom line is we have to get better, and there are ways we can do that, I think. Hopefully those things will start to show up as we go along. But I'm hardly ready to hit the panic button. It's a matter of us we have to work better and get through some things.
SPOILER ALERT everyone is going to do that to Iowa until it proves it can get downfield in the passing game. Iowa State might not have the guns to do it successfully, but it's certainly going to try.
As for the disastrous kicking game, the questioner gave him Nate Kaeding and Ferentz bizarrely responded with Ryan Donahue.
The kicking is not my expertise, but I watch kickers and punters, and my experience is to your point, Nate's first year was up‑and‑down a little bit. Jason Baker was not a young guy when we got here in 99, but erode the roller coaster and punted awesome in 2000 and ended up playing for a long, long time. So that's a really difficult position to play. I think kicking and punting, the psychology of it, and a lot of variables there. So my experience has been that guys tend to be up‑and‑down a little bit. Donahue was rough early. Then it kicked in.
The good thing, it was an obvious issue Saturday. As I said, I felt a lot worse in April because in April didn't see much in practice to make you feel better. But this past August both guys have kicked well and did kick well. So we've just got to stay the course and get better at it, and we'll go back to work today and hopefully see better results this weekend.
Ferentz said he has not yet named a kicker, so Mick Ellis -- whose redshirt was pulled Saturday so that he too could miss a chip shot field goal -- is still in play. He later cited both his and Marshall Koehn's inexperience as factors in their misses last week and said they were going to "ride the elevator a little bit" with them.
Even though he's cleared to play, Josey Jewell isn't necessarily going to drop into a starting spot.
He was having a good camp. He had a good spring last year, but he's still a young guy. He hasn't played a snap in major college football, so we'll see what he looks like this week in practice. He's been cleared. That doesn't mean he'll be able to play effectively. We've got to see what he looks like out there. At the very least hopefully he can help us on special teams. We're not the deepest group right now at linebacker, so hopefully he'll get involved in that. It's been kind of an experimental thing for us all the way through, and we'll keep looking at guys, but we'll have to see how he looks in practice.
This isn't a surprise -- he's never been listed higher than second at any linebacker position on the depth chart -- but his return does create a bit of a logjam at strongside linebacker with Bo Bower and Travis Perry. Alston and Spearman improved significantly from Week 1 to Week 2, and their spots should be fairly secure.
As for the usual Iowa State stuff, is it more difficult to recruit in-state against Paul Rhoads? "The answer is no." Is Allen Lazard good at football? "He was highly recruited for good reasons." Iowa State's backfield? "It's a challenge. It's a real challenge." And as for Big Brother-Little Brother?
I'm not sure I'd agree with that description, but I can tell you this, since 1998, maybe it was little brother, big brother, and the point spread was 20‑plus points. It ended up pretty dramatically. I got here a year later, and it's been a dog fight every year, a dog fight every year. That is the only way I know it. '80s are ancient history to me. I used to have black hair and all my kids were in elementary school then. So that's a long time ago. Brown hair, dark brown hair.
We've hit the discussion of Ferentz's hair color. You might as well turn off the tape recorders, assembled media, because we're done here.