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The Quickest Slant -- KF transcript, presser notes
Here's Kirk Ferentz on the Big Ten teleconference (the questions and the gist -- lots on James Vandenberg and more "stand by your man" answers, which is what you'd expect):
KF: Tough loss, hard fought game. Came up short. Tough pill to swallow. We moved on Sunday. Focus to UNI and getting team to move forward.
One TD first two games, what has to improve offense -- Pretty much everything.
Going down the field -- Passing game isn't where we want it to be in any phase. We have to do a better job in redzone area.
LBs -- Thought all of the linebacker played well. James Morris phenomenal. Saved TD and gave us a chance to win. Unfortunately, couldn't convert that to points. Hitchens making progress each time out there.
Evaluate JVB -- We haven't won and haven't scored enough points, I'd say everyone, we're not where we want to be. James is doing a good job leading, the next step is getting into the end zone.
On UNI -- They've changed a little offensively. Another excellent UNI team. Got a QB (redshirt frosh Sawyer Kollmorgen) who's more of a thrower, showed tremendous poise. Gave them a chance to win. No interceptions yet. Defensively, they are typical. Looked the same. Playing good defense.
James VB confidence level -- He's fine. Easier to say than to verify. We don't have anyone more invested. James is totally in. I'm sure he's disappointed. Have to keep working. He will be a big part of our improvement. He can't do too much.
Not taking practice to the field -- Yes, absolutely. We have to make that happen. Not that far away. When we made plays and executed, the ball moved fine. Trick is having team execution. Easier to say than do. Not that far away.
UNI FBS -- No idea. Don't think it will affect the talent pool. I don't think it'll change things dramatically the way people in the state [assume high schools] would approach football. [He didn't know anything about this and didn't seem interested, so there you go.]
On to the press conference. Will update soon thereafter if not during.
From the KF main press conference:
Cure for drops: Just practice and concentration, conceding they certainly had too many drops on Saturday to expect to win.
OL: Better in protection, not there yet.
On D: Really grew in the second half. They were more decisive and played faster. Still, needs improvement. Some things on film that other teams will attack.
On UNI QB Sawyer Kollmorgen: Ferentz is definitely impressed. For a first year starter going up to Wisconsin, they know how hard it is to play up there, and for him to play like he did, especially in the second half, was impressive.
Vandenberg too hard on himself: Yes.
Asked if James Vandenberg is hard on himself: Yes. A lot of guys invested and James is right there at the top. He expects a lot from himself, maybe too much some times. If there's anything to worry about with James, it's him putting too much pressure on himself. That's the way he's built, tough mentally and tough physically. Why he's so respected.
Too much pressure leak into his game, decision making: KF said definitely. You have to let the game come to you. He went back to the 80's when Hartleib, McGwire, and Poholsky were all competing for the QB job and all three were pressing, trying to squeeze it in there and make a play. Hartleib was third coming out of the spring, and ended up winning the job.
Collin Sleeper: Back with the team. Off suspension.
Will drops and affect playing time: Has to at some point, but tough area. Don't want players freezing up afraid they're going to get pulled over one drop. Hopefully, all of the guys will start to concentrate a little more. Ferentz wasn't happy with the receivers in the spring, but they improved on that in August and now have to carry it over to games.
The notion of Northern Iowa in the FBS is incredibly interesting. I think it has to happen. FCS has been a great and fun division of football with a million great athletes, but if people have to wonder what conference or what division or what FCS means, the interest wanes quickly.
There's lot of college football on TV.
I would watch UNI play host to Northern Illinois on a Tuesday night ESPN MACtion game.
Scott Dochterman covered the topic here with UNI AD Troy Dannen.
As a UNI alum, I'm all for this. I know I would have to ramp up the donation.
Let's start the day off with some Big Ten notes, stats and such.
Kirk Ferentz speaks on the Big Ten teleconference at 11:40 a.m.
Michigan State and Notre Dame play for the Megaphone Trophy.
Quick Start to the New Year: Through two weeks, five Big Ten teams have opened the season with two consecutive wins . . .
Trending at 2-0: The five remaining undefeated conference teams have a history of getting off to quick starts in the new season . . .
Where We Rank: Six Big Ten programs received votes in the latest Associated Press (AP) and USA Today coaches polls, including five teams among the top 25 in at least one ranking . . .
A Threat to Run: Last weekend, eight Big Ten standouts rushed for more than 100 yards, five of which are quarterbacks . . .
Ranking Among the Nation's Best: Through two weeks, numerous Big Ten standouts rank among the nation's statistical elite . . .
Lay it On the Line: Big Ten teams celebrate numerous trophy games and Michigan State will take part in one of its annual rivalry series this weekend. In primetime on Saturday, the Spartans will host nationally ranked Notre Dame at 8 p.m. ET, with the teams looking to claim the Megaphone Trophy . . .