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The Walk Off -- 'We've got five days'
The off-camera portion of Kirk Ferentz. [Note: I'll post video and a PDF of the transcript here when they're finished.]
Worst opposing lockerroom in the Big Ten -- Ferentz wouldn't come out and say, but Michigan State was the general response. (I thought Purdue, but Michigan State.)
Trying to find a left tackle when there's injury -- We've prepared for this, hopefully. Part of the equation is we've lost two of them. We've lost two tackles, that's what Donnal's main position was. You never have enough tackles in the tackle pool, if you will. We just lost two of them, that pretty much leaves three.
Would Donnal have moved to left tackle? -- If he were healthy. That would've been one of our considerations for sure.
Was that something you thought about after Brandon was hurt? -- At that point, we would've stayed with what we were doing. Big picture, it would've been a consideration.
You say three tackles? Van Sloten, MacMillan and . . . -- Tobin has played tackle a lot since he's been here, at least he has the last two years.
Your offensive line has had a pretty good rhythm . . . -- It happens. When Blythe came out, Donnal had to jump in there. I would compare Blythe to Bullock. We talk about Bullock like he's a veteran player. He's played three games. So, Blythe has played three, so that makes him veteran. At least there is some comfort, he's been on the game field and he's played a little bit, not that he's playing his best football yet, I still think that's ahead of him. We'll plug that up. At least I think you have a guy there who's played and then we'll figure out the left tackle position. Nolan did a lot of good things the other night.
How hard is it to get that rhythm back? -- We've got five days. It's a challenge anytime, but it's like any player who gets eliminated because of injury, it makes it different. Those things happen. That's part of football.
What are some of the things James Vandenberg has to do, if any, to counter the newness along the offensive line? -- He just has to play. He can't worry about who's playing left tackle. I'm sure he'll be aware who's in there, because he's watching like we're all watching. When the game gets going, every player has to play their position the best they can and worry about their responsibilities. He's got plenty of things on his plate where he doesn't have to worry about who's playing left tackle or left guard. Part of football is you have to have faith in your teammates.
Quicker drops? -- No, no. It's like anything. If the pocket breaks down, you've got to do something. You've got to improvise and get the ball out or whatever. We had plenty of breakdowns in our first game with our starting group. We had plenty of breakdowns the other night before we were injured.
With James, you expect improvement every week, you expect him to learn and get better. Is there a maximization in a fifth-year senior in that you know exactly what he can and can't do? -- Tom Brady is still getting better. There's a great article on Peyton Manning a couple of weeks ago. It never ends. That's the neat thing about life and certainly in sports, it just never ends. There's always an opportunity to improve, do more. James is built that way, that's how he thinks. It's a good thing.
When players get hurt, like Donnal and Scherff, how do you keep them part of the team? -- It's really hard. Once they get through their medical part of things, they're around our team, they're in meetings, but if you talk to any player who's hurt or who has ever been hurt, which is about every player you talk to, no matter how close they stay, there's a feeling of disconnect. There's two phases in my mind of being injured, No. 1 you have a physical thing you have to work through. That's not a lot of fun. There are a lot of quiet hours there that people don't realize, that get stacked up, be it just rehabbing or certainly doing the work trying to get back. Thats hard . . . sometimes, painful. That's the medical staff, sometimes they're unsung heroes. Nobody realizes some of the things they do behind the scenes. And then the other part of it is, besides going through the pain and the realization you're going to be our for awhile, you just can't help but feel disconnected. That's the worst part about it. You can be standing right there with everyone else, you just don't feel like you're part of it. I can't really articulate why that is, but it's nearly unanimous with everyone I've talked with.
What do you do to try to ease that? -- You try to address it, but it's still . . . I don't think it erases the feeling. It's like losing and winning. Those are feelings you can't really duplicate any other way, either. You have to experience it. It's a hard deal. It's a hard deal. There's the part of missing time, but there's also the mental stuff that you go through, too.
Do you have any experience with a diva-type quarterback, not saying James is, not at all, but it can be a position that comes with ego management . . . -- Oh sure, sure. . . . A big part of coaching is trying to communicate with players. Whatever the topic may be. The more of that you do, the better. Every player is different, certainly.
Talking about Nolan MacMillan, his response to injuries -- It's really hard to do. It's hard on a player when they miss time. There's the physical and the mental. But it's like Scherff and Donnal, as hard as it's going to be for those guys to watch, the silver lining is they will have the opportunity to come back. The worst I always think is when a senior gets hurt and he's done for the year. That's a hard one to spin. In Nolan's case, you still had hope. It wasn't like it was a debilitating type of injuries. You've got to stay with it. Pat Angerer's stories are well-documented. He went through a lot of challenges and hardships and was on the verge of quitting, but he stuck with it and it turned out to be a good story for him. Anytime you pack it in, the only thing it assures you is you have no chance. Nothing is going to work itself out, but if you stick with it, there are no guarantees it will, but at least you give yourself a chance.
Transcript from the main news conference:
Intro, captains and the news on OT Brandon Scherff and OG Andrew Donnal. Scherff suffered a broken fibula and dislocated ankle. Donnal suffered a torn ACL. Iowa is now down to three players it feels good at for OT and one of those is guard Matt Tobin. The search for OT begins and ends with Tobin and Nolan MacMillan. Ferentz also discusses running backs. Mark Weisman might be better than last week with the sprained ankle. That's a wait-and-see. Sophomore Damon Bullock has been cleared since suffering a second concussion pre-Michigan State. Jordan Canzeri is in the mix. Probable redshirt for Michael Malloy.
NW ultraback Kain Colter comes up here. Ferentz sounded intrigued about having a player with that kind of versatility around. Passing game, specifics of the passing game (all of it, facetiously, I think), "how far is James ahead of the other QBs?" "31-0 and not play the No. 2 QB?" Some stuff on freshman Jake Rudock, the backup QB everyone is wondering about. Getting the best players on the field.
And more quarterback. Northwestern's rotating QB thingie. Does Vandenberg have a say in the gameplan? The QB position in the future is "clearly cloudy." To blame one person for Penn State is misguided, including the coaches and including himself (Ferentz said). Penn State "trashed" Iowa, Ferentz's words.
Micah Hyde, Nico Law (played well and made mistakes, was injured at some point earlier this season). Nolan MacMillan. Weisman, Keenan, where have the fades gone, Marvin McNutt. The stones were being turned over today.
Plays per game, that's the main challenge for Iowa's defense in the next three games. Some Penn State stuff. The bus ride to Northwestern. (Iowa buses to Evanston, in case you didn't know.)