I’ve been to every Iowa football media day since 2000. Others have longer streaks, some shorter but it was an interesting day inside the walls of Fort Kinnick.
BRIAN FERENTZ: There is an old saying ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’. That may turn out to be the case as it relates to Brian Ferentz, however as of right now, his apple rolled down the hill and up the other side. I don’t mean that as a sleight to either man; Brian is one of the most quotable people that those walls have ever heard or seen. His father is a seasoned veteran and uses a lot of coach speak, or Kirk Speak. You have to do a little more deciphering with Kirk and even then, he is not wont to say anything that will make a headline outside of the fact he said something at a press conference.
Here were a few colorful comments from Brian today while I was around.
On media making a bigger deal out of Iowa moving offensive linemen around the line during the year: “With all due respect to you guys, you make too much of an issue out of everything. But that’s your job, and I certainly understand that. In my opinion, yes. In my time here, that is what I learned under. In my time in the NFL, we would go to a game with 46 guys who could enter the football game and 45 who could play. That meant we’d take seven linemen to the game. You have to be fluid. The tight ends, we took two, and they had to play both spots.”
When asked about wanting to get the program back to some of its past levels of success, he said “I think we’ve done pretty well in the past and even recently. We’ve beaten Michigan three times in a row and they won the Sugar Bowl last year. We’ve beaten Michigan State two of the last three and they were in the Big Ten Championship game last year. We have beaten Wisconsin two of the last three times we played them and obviously the last game we lost to them, let’s be honest, was pretty much our fault, and they were in the Big Ten championship game last year.”
Welcome back, Brian.
He also talked about when he is on the recruiting trails, in high schools or homes and he is wearing the Tigerhawk, that it has brand recognition, that he has a particularly unique story to tell having played at Iowa, been in the NFL as well as his family ties.
He is a smooth talker, but not in the ‘I want to take a shower’ way Urban Meyer is. You can see how much of a motivator he will be with his players. If he has desires of being a head coach one day, and I suspect he does, that’s a lock you can take to Vegas.
I will post the video to both of these later this week. I noticed a few scribes rolling tape on Brian for at least 30 minutes, so you’ll read much more from him in the coming days here and elsewhere.
YOUTH WILL BE SERVED: Kirk Ferentz wasn’t sure if Iowa would play 10 or more true freshman this year as they did one year ago, but he reiterated that this year’s team, which is his youngest at Iowa related to returning seniors, is not afraid to get even younger.
Greg Davis mentioned Tevaun Smith (6-2/190) and Maurice Fleming (6-0/185) as younger players who had stood out to him. Now, he wasn’t saying they were going to play big roles, but he didn’t mention any other freshmen. Coaches are typically loathe to talk about young players unless they have to. Connor Kornbrath is in the mix at punter, as expected.
DEFENSIVE LINE: I spoke with both Carl Davis and Darian Cooper. Both of them were enjoyable to speak with and wore sheepish grins when I asked them about the low expectations some on the outside have for this year’s line. Obviously, players believe in themselves. They sometimes believe in things no one else can see. Sometimes they pull it off and sometimes they don’t.
We’ll see how this year’s group does along those lines, but I can tell you one (two) things; it’s going to take a lot to move Carl Davis and Darian Cooper out of the center of the line if their technique is there. Davis will be the first 300+ pounder on Iowa’s DL interior since Colin Cole. Big doesn’t always equate to space eating; low man wins in the trenches. But he has a good head starter. Cooper is more of a fireplug and those guys can be tougher to move because of the leverage they can create. Cooper is listed at 6-2/280 and Davis 6-5/315.
As it relates to the defensive line this year, I am just going to have to see it. But they do have good attitudes, which is typically the case on Media Day.
OFFENSIVE ADJUSTMENTS: After speaking with Kevonte Martin-Manley and CJ Fiedorowicz, I came away smiling and happy. It was impossible not to, because both of them were gushing over the offensive system they now find themselves in. They were smiling and happy while answering the questions so it was infectious.
Then after I left and thought about what they said with regards to all of the freedoms the new offense would afford the passing game, I started to get a bit worried. Backyard football, KMM said? Presnap reads by the quarterback AND receivers? Relying on communication even more? I will cross my fingers and hope we don’t see communication breakdowns this year because that is a lot of moving parts to process inside of a 45 second play clock.
As stated, KMM said that the new system was a bit like pick up football; there is more freedom to break off or change routes based on presnap reads made by either the receiver or the quarterback. It sounds like Iowa will have more chances to get out of bad routes or a play call that is not suited to attack a defensive change and both players felt the adjustments were easy to make with this system.
“Coach Davis, he just knows what the players want,” Fiedorowicz said. “Every play call tells the tight end where to go. There is less time spent on thinking about things like that and more on looking at what the defense is going to give you.”
His comments were especially interesting given that I heard him talking about how he started to get real comfortable at the end of las season and then all of the sudden a new system comes in. He felt like the new system was easier to assimilate, something other players echoed. Nobody was throwing any former coaches under the bus nor were they dogging the old system; they were just real, real happy with with they will be running now. KMM said that it might not look all that different for the fans, but the players sure notice the differences.
We’ll have photos, player & coaching interviews and transcripts as the week goes along here at HawkeyeNation.com