Posted by: marcmwm | October 14, 2008

Quick news conference notes . . .

— On injuries: LB Troy Johnson, a solid special teamer and a backup WLB, is probably out this week with a leg strain. TE Tony Moeaki, “Bet the under,” Kirk Ferentz said, referring to the low probability that he’ll play this week. There’s hope, but Ferentz said he’s not optimistic.

— RB Shonn Greene’s right ankle will be fine. DE Adrian Clayborn was there saying his ankle was fine. He’s getting treatment. He’s not wearing a boot. He looks good to go. I imagine he’ll have to show something to coaches during the week, however. RB Paki O’Meara (knee) should be available this week, but with the rise of freshman RB Jewel Hampton, O’Meara’s contributions will likely be on special teams.

— DT Mike Daniels has had a battery of tests after collapsing on the turf at the end of the game last week and “there’s nothing dangerous, no red alerts,” Ferentz said.

—  I asked how Mitch King and Matt Kroul make it work as 275-pound defensive tackles (actually, Matt today said he’s 285) in the Big Ten.

Here’s what coach Ferentz said:



Q. Something you look for in those guys?

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, there are a couple things we look for. They’re good football players. It starts with that. Both Matt and Mitch were tough, productive players in high school. I don’t think we were sure in either case what they would be. Matt is probably a little bit more like Mike Elgin. We weren’t sure what Mike Elgin would be, but we thought he’d be something. Mitch we thought would be a linebacker. We thought that even in the spring of 2005.

But it got a little tough to watch our front. We just weren’t good up there, so we approached

him about moving, and Matt has really taken off and done a good job with it.

Q. Are you ever even surprised by what they’re able to do against the 330-pounders in the world?

COACH FERENTZ: No, I go back to Jonathan Babineaux — I’ll interject this. I have a snapshot moment of one time I saw Jonathan get physically knocked off the football, and it was at Arizona State during that massacre game. I mean, I got a snapshot. Watching the tape the next day, I was like, whoa, and it was because Jonathan abandoned his technique. It was later in the game and there were some circumstances there probably.

But for the most part Jonathan was just wired into what he was supposed to do, and despite his size, it was tough to move him. So that’s the key to our defense is everybody playing their position, playing it well, and those two guys are like the poster children for that, that mantra.

That’s just how we play. They’ve worked extremely hard in a couple areas, strength and conditioning a fair amount. And then they understand technique. They really understand it, and they work at it. Technique is something that can fade. It’s like hitting a baseball or shooting a basketball. I mean, you’ve got to work at it and practice it routinely. They’re very well-coached. We’ve had great line coaching from Rick and Ron Aiken, also, but that’s kind of the way we are.

I mean, we tend to be a smaller group up front; both sides of the football historically has been that way. If you compare us size-wise to other teams around the Big Ten, either line, usually we’re somewhere in the middle or in the bottom. That’s just how we’ve played.


— I know this question occasionally pops up, but don’t look for sixth years for C Rob Bruggeman or WR Andy Brodell. They haven’t been knocked out of two years because of injury and they’ve already taken redshirt seasons.

— One question that I don’t think anyone has really thought much about but hey, why not?


Q: Do you think Shonn Greene ought to be in the Heisman Trophy discussions?

COACH FERENTZ: I’m not worldly enough to talk about that. I just know he’s playing pretty well for Iowa, I know that, and I’m happy about that. I don’t know where he ranks with everybody else, but he’s playing pretty well — not pretty well, very well.

— The “walk off” portion of Ferentz’s conference included an examination of the play-action pass that the Hawkeyes have gone to town with this fall with the rise of Shonn Greene. Iowa pulled its guards in pass pro with Tate. They’re not there yet, but it might pop up. “Things are working for fairly well together. We’re not as proficient as you want to be, but they’re working fairly well,” Ferentz said. “One thing for sure, they’re honoring Shonn. We’re not having any problems selling him (to defenses).”

— Andy Brodell was talked about. When he first came to Iowa he was a running back from Ankeny. Ferentz said he was thought of as a receiver/safety type. He said Brodell’s injury last year looked totally undramatic, like how did a torn-from-the-bone hamstring happen on that?

— On QB Ricky Stanzi’s slow starts: Ferentz was asked if there was any way as a coach if Stanzi could be relaxed a little bit, “We could probably slip something in his Gatorade,” he joked. “I think that’s something they call experience.” He responded after what Ferentz called “a curious start.”

— Of course, all you guys know Shonn Greene left school because of academics. He wasn’t able to get into Iowa in 2004 because of a test score and went the prep school route at Milford Academy. He made it back but had to leave prior to last season because of academics. What happened? “I think Shonn would be the first to tell you, he dropped the ball,” Ferentz said. “It wasn’t a matter of capability. Usually, that isn’t the problem. . . . Shonn would be the first to tell you, he dropped the ball.”

— Banking on Greene returning (a helluva gamble, in my book): “We were,” Ferentz said. “I talked to Shonn very rarely during that. But we had Albert Young, who was his roommate and that as good as talking to Shonn. And everything was coming back very positive. That was his goal. He was focused on that. . . . He was aware of what he had to do and he took care of business.”

— Of course, you know Greene had to leave Iowa City twice, but he kept coming back. “I think he’s comfortable with his teammates, the program. His family has always liked it here. He’s always like it here,” Ferentz said. “I think he wanted to finish up here. It was important to him to finish.”

— On redshirting QBs James Vandenberg and John Wienke: “Both are doing very well. Both are delightful kids,” Ferentz said. I whispered, jokingly, just ask him who’s the better QB. Ferentz heard and said, “I don’t know. Right now, I don’t know,” he said. “I know they’re both doing well. I know that.”

— Next week is a big week for the freshmen. There will be a lot of developmental time, which means the scout teamers will actually run the offense and defense they were recruited to run. Coaches will be able to get a better gauge as far as they’re developed.

— Ferentz said his football team would be what the Hawkeyes now if he were at Florida or USC. “It’s what works for you, what you believe in,” he said. He said Iowa would love to have a QB like Indiana’s Kellen Lewis, but Kellen Lewis would still be playing Iowa’s “neanderthal offense.” Those are in quotes because they’re Ferentz’s words. “We’ll play with anybody, if they’re good players, we’ll play with anybody,” Ferentz said. “But they still have to play for a neanderthal, a cro-magnon. Bam Bam, Peebles, all that stuff.”

— At the core of Iowa’s recruiting is “projection.” “We’re in the business of projecting. Projections work sometimes, they don’t work others,” Ferentz said. “But we have to be in the projection business because, as I’ve said before, the guys my sister could tell you are good don’t always put their hand up and say they want to come here. We have to keep looking for other ideas and ways to get the puzzle solved.”




  1. No one asked him about Shonn coming back next year or has that been addressed with the good captain?

    For the most part I think this staff has done a PHENOMENAL job projecting players.

  2. He was asked that last week, E. His answers were what you’d expect, cross the bridge when it comes, hope Greene has the kind of year that makes it an option.

    I agree on projecting. A miss costs this program a lot more than an Ohio State miss.

  3. “I agree on projecting. A miss costs this program a lot more than an Ohio State miss.”

    I agree Marc. And boy did we miss in the 2005 class.

    They need to promise Shonn that they’ll promote him right out of the gate next year with 25 carries a game no matter what the score early in the year is. He really is a Hiesman trophy candidate.

    I hope they can get him to stay another year, but I really think Shonn does not like school much, and he would be 24 years old next year.

  4. I’m not sure how much Iowa could sell Greene on another year. I imagine he’ll apply to the NFL to get a projection on where he’d go. (I’m not sure exactly how this works, but a player is allowed to get a feel for where they would go in the draft.) If it’s a first or second round, I imagine he’d go. It also depends who else is in this RB class. Bottomline is if Ferentz thinks it’s the right thing for Greene, he’ll tell him to enter the draft.

    I remember when Dallas Clark left a year on the table. Ferentz didn’t try to sell him. Clark was going to be 23 or 24 and it was time. He did everything a TE could do in 2002.

    Coaches have to be honest on this subject, even if it hurts. This is one that will sit until mid-January, that’s when this stuff comes down. The combine is in February. If Darren McFadden went through it, I imagine Greene would.

    Greene’s birthday is 8.21, so he’ll be 24 just before next season started. His RB mileage is relatively low, but that might make him even more draftable, fresh legs.

  5. Does moving McNutt to WR have anything to do with how Vandenberg and Wienke project for next year given Jake may leave? I recall that you (Marc) had wrote in the sping that one of the freshmen QBs might play this year.

  6. I forgot about that and did read KF talking about that, thanks.

    How often does he speak with former players? I know Bob was on the sidelines Sat. and DC has been back to Kinninck this year I believe.

    Does he ever talk about how often he or his staff speak with their guys? I know I read about him speaking with Yanda after his injury and am just curious (if the last two paragraphs did’t clue you in…)

    BTW- I love your write ups and your blog is one of the first things I look at every day so keep up the good work as us Hawkeyes in other states need the read.

  7. DB,

    You’re right, I did write that I thought one of the frosh QBs would play. I thought they would to at least stagger Vandenberg and Wienke. Looks like I’m wrongo on that one. I really thought they would.

    So, I’m batting .000 when it comes to QB predictions.

    I do think they feel good enough about the frosh that they felt they could make the move with McNutt. McNutt is a nearly 6-4 kid with a lot of athleticism. I’m not sure about speed or explosion, but that’s only because I haven’t seen him play very much. It’s an intriguing body type, though, one that Erik Campbell turned into NFL millionaires at Michigan.

    Here’s my prediction at QB this spring:

    1) Ricky
    2) Vandenberg/Wienke
    3) Jake
    4) Vandenberg/Wienke


    I think Ferentz has an open door policy for former players. They’re always welcomed to practice. I know he’ll occasionally go out of his way during the season, but when he says he lives in a submarine, I believe him. These guys clock the hours. From everything I’ve heard and read, Ferentz is a good father and with five kids, I’m not sure there’s a choice. I’m not sure that leaves him much time for socializing. When I say open door, I believe that extends to any former Iowa football player.

    Thanks for the compliment, E. I really enjoy the blog and value of your input.

  8. Marc –

    I was kind of curious to what your thoughts of Pat Hardy’s Acticle about Jim Ecker??? Given the fact that Ecker did call out the Iowa beat writers which if I’m not mistaken, includes yourself Marc….

    I think a better question is, doesn’t Jim cover the Clones, so are things really that bleak that he has to do a drive by to get his two cents in??

  9. What column, Duane???? 🙂

  10. I’m with Duane on this one. Ecker sounds like a first class fool. Also, I left a long comment after his article, but it doesn’t post. I was logged in, it just will not accept comments.

    Typical Clown.

  11. Paul, I would encourage you to keep trying.

  12. I have some definite thoughts on this, but I’m leaving it alone (my call, BTW).

    But you guys go nuts with it. I’m not deleting anything on this. Let ‘er rip!!

    In fact, if someone wanted to post a link to a column from the biggest Iowa city south of Cedar Rapids, gosh, I just wouldn’t think that’s a bad thing.

  13. Marc –

    Couldn’t help but oblige here, seems like some people are in line with the rest of us…

    Who does Ecker cover???

  14. Thanks, Duane. Er, I mean what column! 🙂

    I don’t even know on your question, Duane.

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