Coach Ferentz Spring Press Conference Transcript
March 20, 2012
A little bit of an inconvenience right now with the remodeling, but it will be good to get in there next summer for sure.
Yesterday we had an NFL camp, hosted that. It's part of college football. We graduated a great group of seniors. Those guys worked out, did a nice job yesterday for a lot of NFL people. Had the combine I guess about a month ago, month and a half ago, somewhere in that ballpark. It's been kind of fun. Casey Wiegmann was back yesterday, came up with a group from Kansas City. Ran into Aaron Kampman this morning, up in the weight room. He's in town for a little bit. Scott Chandler walked in. Matt Kroul, those guys have been working out. Jeff Tarpinian, as well.
Good to see some of the former players around here training, around the building. That's always fun.
Obviously as we talked about our staff, we've had some changes with the staff. So it's been a busy several weeks here just getting ready for spring practice. We'll stay on the run here. So it's been fun to get back to football, a lot of positive energy I think going on right now.
The team really had a good out of season. I know Chris and his staff were really pleased with the way the guys worked. Did a good job in the weight room with the speed conditioning work, all those things. Making some progress there.
It's good to see the guys doing a good job there, now we start the next phase. They all got back from spring break the last couple days here. We'll get going here tomorrow.
We're eager to get out on the field. Certainly it's a very important phase. Everybody realizes in college football, spring practice is a great opportunity to do a lot of teaching, a lot of fundamental work, learn a lot more about the players.
Certainly it's a chance for us right now, we have a very young football team. The one thing we talked about our team is the need to grow. We need to grow as a staff. Every player needs to grow. The veteran players, the guys that have been out there that have competed, had a chance to do good things, they need to play their best certainly next fall and need to lead.
Then we have that next level coming up, some are seniors, some are juniors, some obviously freshmen, but that next group that needs to take this opportunity and try to move up and demonstrate they're ready to play, too.
It's an ongoing process, a fun time of the year for coaches. We're eager to get started tomorrow.
With that I'll throw it out to questions.
How are you health wise? Anybody out?
I think right now Dom will be out there more than Carl. Carl is probably still a couple weeks away from doing any significant work out there. They should both be ready in June. Those are the two guys right now that are out of spring ball.
What is going on with Carl?
That's a young group of defensive linemen. Talk about that group.
We're counting on Steve Bigach, we're counting on him to keep improving. Kind of leading that group. Joe Gaglione, another senior capable of doing some good things. This is his time to step it up and get going.
After that we are a very young group. Some of the guys you mentioned, redshirt freshmen, Riley, guys like Darian Cooper that we saw last year, Dean Tsopanides. Did a nice job on the scout team. Now it's a chance for them to learn what we're doing in our scheme, putting some things to use.
You look back, glanced at a depth chart in the last 24 hours, 2005, really veteran group in '04. Started out spring ball with Matt Kroul as a starter, defensive tackle, red shirt freshman at that point. Mitch King was second team will linebacker and third team middle linebacker going into spring ball. I think we moved him somewhere about halfway through spring.
That's kind of one of the neat things about spring ball, you never know where stories are going to come from. One constant is we always have needs. It's always been that way. It's that way again this year. We've been lucky to have guys step up. It's fun to see who emerges here in the next couple weeks.
Do you think there will be any significant position changes?
Offensive line, you have some movable parts there. Is that kind of a work in progress?
Andrew Donnal had a really good month of December down in Arizona. Then Brett jumped in there. Van Sloten did a good job against Oklahoma. Those are the three top guys competing for the tackle spots.
It's kind of like Gettis and Zusevics a couple years ago. They stepped in there and did a great job. The guys I mentioned came in here a little further ahead than Markus and Adam. Those guys were both 225 when they showed up there, had to build their way up. I think these guys are further ahead physically than Adam and Markus were.
How is MacMillan coming along?
But he's had a good out of season. I think he's really encouraged right now. I think we saw two years ago he's really capable of being a good football player if he can stay healthy. He really practiced well in Arizona a year ago December, not last December. Worked at left tackle as a two. Did a good job there.
We'll keep our fingers crossed. He's an older, mature guy, knows our system. He probably knows it as well as I do, which isn't saying much right now. But he's a guy that can really help us. Keep our fingers crossed. But I think he's on the right path right now.
How would you assess your receivers right now?
He's capable. He did a lot of good things last year, so now it's a chance to build on what he got started. After that we're really young, or inexperienced. I shouldn't say young. We have guys like Steve Staggs, who is a senior. We have Kevonte, who did some good things last year, but played young. It's time for him to get going. He's ready. I think he works hard.
Like a lot of positions, we have to try to bring the best out of all the guys we have out there.
Expand on your statement of 'getting familiar with the offense'.
It's given us a chance to examine everything we're doing on both sides of the football. I think we've kind of streamlined some things. Obviously with Greg coming in from the outside, we really had a meeting of the minds there. Greg has been a real delight to work with. He's a real professional. Just a tremendous person. Great expertise.
I think we're really comfortable with the path we're going down right now. But there's a lot of new nomenclature, terminology, and we're all learning right now. Even the old dogs are trying to learn some new tricks.
Was there a moment or time when something told you you needed some changes?
So the bottom line is we want to move forward. If 4 4 is the best we can be, that's fine. But we're shooting for something higher than that certainly, always have been. I think, again, the downside of continuity, stability I think is sometimes you just kind of stay on that same path.
It's time to look at a lot of things. That's what we're trying to do right now. It's fun. It's invigorating. We were going to do it regardless of what happened with our staff personnel wise.
What type of role do you envision a guy like Brad Rogers having?
College football, especially if you're coaching at a school like Iowa, you're more apt to have things go back and forth a little bit. So to me it just made sense to get someone who has had experience. He's played with two backs, he's played with two tight ends, three wide, four wide, all that type of thing. I think his system will fit.
What we always try to do is figure out who our best players are, who can help us move the football and score points, then we'll try to come up with an attack that suits our personnel.
Brad is a guy who we think is a real quality football player. A little different than Nolan, because he made it to the field last year. I don't think we saw anything close to what Brad can be. That being said, I don't think we'll be a hundred percent two backs, we don't want to do that, but we want to utilize his talents.
James Vandenberg is a film freak self described. Is he now watching film?
What is he watching?
You talk about fitting personnel with what you want to do. Defensively, I know you play two gap, I don't think that will change, but personnel on the defensive line being so young, maturity is a huge thing, do you think about changing something up there or do you stick with teaching these guys what you want them to be?
Leverage is a huge part of the game. Learning that is certainly something that is important. I would not disagree with the concept of experience and maturity being a big thing. But you can overcome that. You have to overcome it with athleticism and aggressiveness, attitude, those types of things. We can do some things coaching wise to try to help.
If all you do is throw fast balls, you better be throwing it up near a hundred coming in. But if you can't throw it up that high, you better have a couple other things in your repertoire, at least one other good pitch. You get a guy off guard a little bit. I think that's what we'll have to do.
With the secondary, what do you envision with Nico Law?
The strong safety position right now to me is wide open. We may have Nico listed there. I told the players this morning, the depth charts, you can throw those out a week from now. It's nothing. It's just a starting point. You have Nico back there. Tommy Donatell, we'll probably work him more in the back end. Collin is a strong candidate. I think John Lowdermilk, we'll let them compete at the safety position, see who emerges.
What has Blythe done to put himself on the depth chart so early?
We have six, seven, eight, maybe nine guys, maybe 10 for the offensive line positions. We're going into it with an open mind. There's no incumbents certainly. The best five guys will be the guys we'll fit in there, work from there.
Do you see yourself doing more spread next year?
Anyway, yeah, going to do whatever it takes to score points and win. Bottom line, we're going to throw it. We're not going to turn it over. We got to be smart about what we're doing. It's not just all the quarterback. It's protection. It's guys doing the right things with routes, not tipping the ball up in the air and making catches. We have to get better at making catches.
You haven't steered an offense towards a wide receiver till last year. What do you expect from James without Marvin?
Marvin was a lot better player last year than he was in 2010. That's a challenge for Keenan. The other thing, too, I think it's well documented, we didn't get the production out of the tight end position we normally would and have gotten historically. We can help ourselves a lot by getting a little bit more out of that position. We'll focus on that, too. I think we have a group that's capable of that.
Where is Rudock in terms of his maturation?
When we try to move forward, that's one advantage that Jake does have. He'll be in the thick of things. I think it's going to be tough for anybody to beat James out. If they can do it, great. But I think that will probably be tough. We'll get three other guys that will get reps with Jake, Cody and John. We'll see how that goes.
Is the thought still to red shirt Sokol?
Is it realistic to think maybe you come out of spring with a clear number one running back?
You look at guys like Jordan, Damon Bullock, they should be better players than they were last August. They've had a lot more football experience. Damon, I think we made it tough on him because we moved him around so much last year. We were trying to find the right niche for him. Clearly right now we're going to keep him at the running back spot, give him 15 days to work on it. De'Andre is a guy I think is totally capable of being a good player for us. He's got to step it up and go. He's capable certainly, too. We're going to let those three guys compete and see how that materializes.
How fixated are you on having a 200 carry number one guy?
These three set the bar, then the true freshman come in and try to get to that?
With Greg in the press box, which offensive coaches will on the field?
Has Phil Parker decided whether he'll be on the field or in the press box?
It was maybe not quite 1999 when you kind of put it all together. Did it get stripped down on offense for you guys?
You started off commenting on the new construction. When that is finished, what will that building allow you to do?
It's going to be nice to have a permanent structure. We'll be able to practice more effectively, efficiently, safely. Those are all important things. The other part of the equation, facilities I think make everybody feel better, the people that are using them. I don't think they've ever been a reason to say you can't be successful. They do factor into recruiting. If you don't admit that, recognize that, then you're probably ignoring the facts. It is important in recruiting.
How close Shane DiBona to being full speed?
How is Dakota Getz?
Was it a tough choice to keep James Morris at middle linebacker?
The one thing about James, I think he could play all three of the positions. Chris Kirksey could play two of them. With those two guys we have position flexibility and gives us a chance to get our best guys out there. It's just good that we have some conversation about competition at the linebacker spot. Collins played last year. Cole Fisher redshirted, but I think he's a good prospect.
I think we have more depth than we have in recent years. The other part should help our special teams, which I think with our lack of depth at linebacker and tight ends, that shows up a little bit at special teams. Hopefully we'll take a step forward there, too.
Has John Wienke embraced being a punter?
Any of the new rules ring a bell for you? I know the kickoff is moving up.
Certainly in the next decade, that's going to be a major issue, just treatment of concussions. Comes right down from the top. So I think that part of the effort there is to rein that in a little bit. Go back to the '80s when we started wearing knee braces. Everybody complained about it. Now nobody says a word about it. I think that will all be good.
Probably the biggest rule change that's going to affect things is the kickoff. It's going to impact the game a little bit.
Kicker, wait and see?
Mike comes in as the number one guy, but we'll let them compete. Trent has been the number one guy. We may fool around and let him play some receiver, too. He's been doing that, when guys go out and throw the ball.
Urban Meyer made quite a lot of noise. How do you think him going to Ohio State is going to impact the landscape of the Big Ten?
The one thing that won't change is, I'll predict this, Ohio State has had pretty good players. What is it, 22 years I've been in this league now, then six in the NFL watching the draft board, they've had pretty good players. What does that make it, 28 years I've been watching. I'll predict this: as long as I'm here, they'll have pretty good players. They've usually had pretty good coaches too. That's a common denominator. That's going to be a tough out for sure.
At what point did A.J. Derby decide to not play defense and transfer?
Is he the only scholarship player that left?
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