KIRK FERENTZ OPENING REMARKS
It’s spring practice. As you saw today, we have a lot of work to do now through 12 practices. The guys have been attentive all spring and are doing a good job of learning. That being said, we have a lot of work to do and are hardly a cohesive group right now. We have guys making process and a lot of guys working but we have a lot of work. It will be a good teaching tape to work off of this coming week, and we have three more practices and we have a lot to work towards at this point and we will go from there . It was a decent day of work and we are making some process.
Q: Have the changes in offensive nomenclature slowed things down development wise?
Kirk Ferentz: It’s hard to gauge. That is one of the things I am surprised by. The players have handled it pretty well, pretty adeptly. There is a bit of mental gymnastics at times with calls and formations. You saw us not line up correctly a few times. That type of thing but that is part of the process and it’s as part of the process when you have younger players. The guys knew they had a lot to learn coming in.
Q: Can you assess the play of Bullock and Johnson so far at running back?
Ferentz: Today was OK. On the positive front, they have improved every day. that is the good news. We lost Jordan a while ago and it seems like the guys picked up the pace even more. They made some errors today, especially Damon. I hope we get those out of our system during this period and in August because we are not there yet. We are asking progress
Q: Talk about replacing your offensive tackles this year.
Ferentz: Brett (Van Sloten) got thrown in there during the bowl prep. Zus was ill that week and that gave him experience and Brandon played inside more last year. They are having a good spring overall. Andrew Donnal is in that mix. Nolan has been out here working all but one day this spring and that is a positive step. We are making progress but we are not ready to play. We have reasons for optimism.
Q: Did Keenan recover faster than you thought?
Ferentz: All the injuries, the guys in red shirts are normal football injuries. I didn’t anticipate Keenan back today or next week so that was a positive. The only negative thing we had this past week was we lost John Chelf with a knee injury and Casey McMillan sprained a knee. It won’t require surgery but he will miss the rest of the spring.
Q: How has the defense looked to you, it created turnovers today.
Ferentz: Ball security is a huge issue. If we don’t take care of the ball we won’t win games. It’s true every year. That has to get cleaned up. We haven’t tackled an awful lot and that is part of it and why you have to tackle…especially with guys that are not used to it. On defense, we are doing some good things. We had a critical holding penalty after we had a turnover so there is a lot to clean up.
Q: Is it hard to assess some things in this atmosphere with music blaring, freshman looking into stands.
Ferentz: The music blaring is for everyone else’s benefit. that is fine, it’s like a distraction drill. Our first spring, we are running a play to our left and Robert Gallery went to his right. It dawned on me later on it was the first time he had been in Kinnick with fans and it was a big deal to him. It’s important to have a different environment than the practice environment.
Q: Barkley Hill was on the sidelines. What are the odds of both he and Garmon playing?
Ferentz: When Jordan got injured that increased the odds. It’s true at every position, we will give everyone an opportunity to come in here and help our football team. Some positions more than others and running back is a spot where people will have that opportunity. We will encourage both of those players to get ready and do the best they can this summer and we’ll evaluate them in August. I can envision both of them playing next year.
Q: How has Vandenberg looked to you in this new offense?
Ferentz: He has been knocking on Greg’s door a lot as you would expect. There were a few times today where it wasn’t clicking for him. You saw a lot of near misses on offense today and that is part of being at practice 12 as opposed to how we will look in August and adding more cohesive execution. He is doing great, he has had a good spring and he is as knowledgeable of anyone outside of Greg as to what we are doing.
Q: Will your RB’s catch more passes this year?
Ferentz: If they have the ability to, yes. When we had Shonn and Marcus we didn’t do as much of that. But I think both Damon and DJ have that capability, like Albert Young could. Not only out of the backfield but use them out wide a little bit. We’ll do what our players allow us to do.
Q: LB corps, Morris, Hitchens, Kirksey
Ferentz: With both James and Christian, they are both veteran players and have two years left. A few years back, Hodge and Greenway were in that spot after four years, these guys are here after three years. That is a sign of the times. I expect both to be good players and leaders for us. Anthony is making ground and is having a good spring. We have always felt he was capable and so far so good. We still have a lot to learn there too
Q: DL, what do you see that needs to be done and what has been done?
Ferentz: We are not ready to go. Overall I am pleased with the way they are coming along. Everyone has a different story. Bigach, we expected him to do well and he has. Joe Gaglione has had a good spring and has been out every day working. Riley was a guy who got off to a good start and had a minor injury and now he is back. He is trying to get caught up mentally so he is not playing as fast as he will. Cooper when he is on is on pretty good, then when he has bad plays it looks bad but that is part of being young. Trinca-Pasat may be the most improved guy we have up front. He struggled in December but has had a great spring. Hardy is making improvement and we have a lot of guys climbing the ladder. Carl Davis’ rehab is going well and Dom will be back in the fall. When it’s all said and done we’ll be OK.
Q: Coach Davis praised CJ this week, how have you seen him progress?
Ferentz: It was really new to him a year ago and we were asking him to do a lot of things he hadn’t done in high school. Last year he made progress but there was inconsistency. This spring he is clearly at a different level which is good. It’s what you hope to see as players get older. He is ready to play good football for us. He has a lot of gifts and good skill sets. Zach Derby has had his best stretch of football. The three young tight ends are doing a good job
Q: You were standing off to the side away from everyone…
Ferentz: I just wanted to watch from afar. When we do the play the game part, and that is the first time we have done that, it’s good for the players not have the coaches telling them how to line up. It’s a chance to see better.
Q: Was everything scripted?
Ferentz: Up until the quarter. That was situational.
Q: Talk about the play of BJ Lowery
Ferentz: He has done a good job and that is not a surprise. He was making progress and injured his hand last year. He is doing a good job. Greg and Jordan Lomax are doing a good job behind him. We have a good chance to have four guys that are playing capably right now. BJ is ready to step in there, he has worked hard.
Q: This state takes heat for not developing a lot of talent but you could have five Iowans on the OL protecting an Iowan.
Ferentz: Possible. Hadn’t thought about that. We just try to get the best guys out there. There have always been good players in our state and this is no exception. you look at a guy like Matt Tobin who came in as a walk on, he worked hard and did a good job earning that job last year. There are a lot of guys capable in our state that play here or elsewhere. We will see how that shakes out in September when it all plays out.