Posted by: marcmwm | September 30, 2008

Not-so quick news conference notes . . .

Sorry this took longer than usual. I went through some Kirk Ferentz quotes on coaches stuff we discussed earlier.

They’re at the bottom of this.

Interesting stuff on continuity and where the buck starts and stops.

— RB Paki O’Meara likely out with a sprained knee. By the way, Ferentz said the No. 3 running back is . . . Jayme Murphy, the special teams stuntman. The redshirt isn’t coming off true freshman Jeff Brinson unless some dramatic happens, Kirk Ferentz said.

— Ferentz said RB Shonn Greene was fine and would practice today. He left last week’s game after suffering a blow to the head in the fourth quarter. After the game, Greene said his head hurt but that he was fine. After the hit, a helmet shot from NU safety Brad Phillips, Greene was not medically cleared to play, so he had to sit.

— Ferentz on helmet-to-helmet: “I think it’s tough coaching tackling right now. I think it’s tough to officiate tackling. That’s just my observation.” The helmet-to-helmet call has marked two Iowa games now.

— No concerns about Shonn Greene’s running style, per Ferentz. He wouldn’t call Greene’s style upright, but punishing.

— Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Amari Spievey are “on notice” when it comes to kickoffs. Here’s what Ferentz said, “I think Jewel is doing a great job back there. So I’ll say that and I’ll leave it right there. I think Jewel is doing a great job. I wish we had two of him.” That’s “on notice.”

—  You hear TV guys and read writers use the word “finish” when it comes to football teams. I asked Ricky Stanzi what that word means to him and I couldn’t agree more with his answer, “Points.”

— Strong safety Tyler Sash was going to practice today after missing last week’s game with a shoulder injury. Ferentz said he has a chance. Guard Rafael Eubanks also has a chance. He also didn’t play last week.

— Ferentz didn’t want to talk much about the fact that the 2005 class had two starters out on the field Saturday, middle linebacker Pat Angerer and right tackle Kyle Calloway. Quick recap on this class: 2 transfers (Ryan Bain and Justin Edwards), 3 career-ending injuries (Alex Kanellis, Dace Richardson, Vernon Jackson), 4 injury-marred careers (Tony Moeaki, Trey Stross, Dan Doering, Tyler Blum), 3 academic casualties (Kalvin Bailey, Corey Robertson, Marcus Wilson), 1 disciplinary boot (Dana Brown) and 2 transfers for whatever reasons (Justin Collins, B.J. Travers). Then there are guys who are waiting for playing time, which would need to happen this year or next: Jake Christensen, Rafael Eubanks, Andy Kuempel, Chris Rowell. “It’s a great illustration of prognostications don’t always materialie like you think they will.”

— Mileage for backs? “It’s a good thing or bad thing,” Ferentz said. Greene is in unprecedented territory for his career, with 99 carries opposed to the 66 he had coming into the season. MSU’s Javon Ringer is on pace to set the FBS record for carries. It’s good in that it shows production. It’s bad if you don’t last. “If you’re winning, it’s not a bad thing,” Ferentz said.

— The optimum number of carries for a back in Ferentz’s mind is 28 or 30.

— On firing assistants, Ferentz said his first exposure to it was a Big Ten school firing an entire defensive staff in the ’80s. He didn’t know all the details for that school, but he did say “it looked to me like a passing the buck.”

“It’s real simple, if someone isn’t doing their job, they should be removed. If they’re not enthusiastic about their job. But I also think people should have the opportunity to demonstrate that they can do it. If there are some concerns, you’ve got to see if you can move those things along. It’s reflective of our whole society. We’re a throwaway society right now. We’re not huge into commitment in a lot of areas. I see it in our sport, football. That’s the magic pill right now. And I know part of that is a by-product of salaries and all that stuff. I understand the economics behind it. I just think if you study successful organizations in general and if you study successful sports organizations more specifically . . . I just happened to grow up in a town where the Steelers had as good a success as anybody over the last 30 years. Nobody has had no stability than them. They’re smart enough to know if you have good people you work through tough times. It’s all about having good people. If you don’t have the right people, yeah, you have to make changes. But if you have the right people, you try to address circumstances and persevere and correct and improve. That’s kind of how you do it. I’m a believer in that.”

— The conversation swung toward offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe. He’s the offensive coordinator. He calls the plays, so a giant amount of fan angst swings his way. One thing to remember, he’s running an offense that Kirk Ferentz very much had a hand in developing and had final say in its form. Ferentz certainly has a hand in the playcalling and can veto or provide whatever input he wants at anytime he wants. O’Keefe has a boss, too.

“Be mad at me. Be mad at me.  I approve everything we do in all three areas. It’s my responsibility. If you’re offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator, you understand you’re going to be a lightning rod. I look at it differently. I look at us having three teams that were top 10 teams, which hasn’t been done a lot at Iowa. We did it with three different quarterbacks (Brad Banks, Nathan Chandler, Drew Tate). I go back to the Redskins (Joe Theisman, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien) winning three different quarterbacks. I think it’s reflective of pretty good coaching. I don’t think that was a fluke. I look at our challenges, and I’m not denying we’ve had them, but I understand the reasons for them. I think they’re being addressed and I think we’re going to be fine.”

— How often does Ferentz interject on gameday playcalling? “As often as I feel necessary. I may comment on a given situation, offensively, defensively or special teams. I also have the right to veto anything we do, a blitz, a punt block or whatever. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility, if people want to get upset, I’m the person to get upset with.”

More, “In my mind, I’ve earned the right to make some decisions. Not that I make every one of them. I don’t want to make every one of them. I’m also big into ownership. I think coaches have to have great ownership. I always appreciated that as an assistant. Ultimately, it gets down to if you have the right people. If you do, my job is to give direction, but I won’t micromanage. Some coaches do. Some don’t do it at all. But we’re all on the same page. I think we’re all compatible, yet I think there are healthy differences with us. We’re not all just sitting there saying, this is a great idea. We discuss a lot of things. (All yes men) doesn’t work, not in any organization.”





  1. we’ve discussed that before with regard to Coach Ferentz and his assistants. Personlly I think he can be loyal and stubborn to a fault.

    anyway. I don’t see us winning in East Lansing … Stanzi’s first Big Ten road game, Kirk has never won there and most importantly Michigan State is good and at home.

    then another road game at Indiana. Road games are never easy for Iowa, even when we are good.

    I see that as two more losses with Wisconsin coming next.

    Run down how you see the wins-losses breaking down the rest of the way. I see us winning three Big Ten games TOPS. That would be another ho-hum 6-6 season TOPS and no bowl game more than likely with the other lesser-thans, the Indianas, Northwesterns, etc. off to get rercords.

  2. sorry, in previous message last words should read: good records

  3. Good for KF. This team will be fine and I think we may just win at EL this weekend.

    Don’t get me wrong, this should be a slobberknocker but for some reason I like our chances this weekend.

    This is a good looking squad that has to make a couple of it’s own breaks. I’m also ECSTATIC to see DJK and Amari on notice about KR.

  4. Nice article–some extra stuff that I didn’t see elsewhere.

    I’ll reserve judgment on our record until after MSU. Historically we lose up a win at MSU would make up for the NW loss and put us in decent position for .500 big10 season.

  5. Let’s see, without a lot of analysis:

    MSU — L, it’ll come down to Stanzi making enough plays. I think the backs cancel out.

    IU — W, Kellen Lewis owns Iowa. But so did Randle El and Iowa finally overcame him.

    W — L, Wisconsin is better at being Iowa than Iowa is.

    At Ill — L, Illinois has gotten out of bed thinking about this game for a year. Stanzi’s progress might hold the key. Just think, he has a chance to be a legit passer. That could change the complexion of Iowa’s second half.

    Penn State — L, You guys have seen Penn State.

    Purdue — W, It’s a toughie though. It’s tough to gauge Purdue. Right now, they’re like a drunk bat. You don’t know which way they’re going to go.

    At Minnesota — W, Remember when Iowa sort of owned November, that’s what I’m banking on here.

    That’s 6-6. Probably no bowl with a glut of fat Big Ten teams.

  6. EP, I hope you are correct, but I don’t see it. Iowa State is the best team we’ve been able to beat and the Cyclowns are not as good as Michigan State, plus we are on the road. … Just watched Iowa at Indiana circa 1988 on the Big Ten Network on my day off. Hoosiers won in a slugfest 45-34. Chuck Hartlieb & Co. cut it to 42-32 on a fourth-quarter TD and Hayden went for 2 & got it to get within 42-34 but they couldn’t get over the top the last 8 minutes. Enjoyed seeing the Marv Cooks, Dave Haights, Jim Reillys out there. Phillies up 3-0 early today. Need a Cubs win tonight in the opener vs. LA.

  7. Who is making the trip to Indiana in a week? We will be getting to Bloomington on the Thursday prior — any interesting sites to catch in the area? Any good bar or eats suggestions? As for this week, my only trip to East Lansing, Mich., was Kirk Ferentz’s first Big Ten game at Iowa. Marc I remember seeing you in the press box that day … ugly game. What, 49-3ish on a drizzly day. Nick Saban was Michigan State’s coach then.

  8. Yep, 49-3, you remember it well.

    My snapshot of that game is going down to the sidelines and seeing MSU’s Robaire Smith hit QB Randy Reiners so hard that Reiners went tumbling like a Hollywood stuntman with a cable tied around his waist and a pickup at the other end.

    Sadly, we’re taking charters on the next two road trips, so it’s in early morning and out a few hours after the game.

    I’m not sure where this is in relation to Bloomington, but the Beef House is an excellent place to eat.

  9. How early do you leave in the morning on a Saturday from Iowa for a noon game Eastern??

    6 bells??

    Will look into the Beef House. We’ll have a group of five on the trip this year representing Dubuque, Muscatine, Keokuk, Davenport & CR. Looking forward to the fall-football weather. You don’t get those 50- , 60-degree temps in Fort Lauderdale very often! Keep up the good work. Enjoy all your tidbits.

  10. I think we’re leaving at 7. It’s early, but I get Friday and I’ll be home Saturday before midnight, I think.

    That’s a good deal.

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