The Start of the Next Phase
March 27, 2013
"Today is the start of the next phase, and one of the important phases we have, spring practice," Ferentz said Wednesday at a news conference inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex. "We have 15 dates to see how the team develops and to see what kind of progress we've made and how we look different than we were in November."
The Hawkeyes finished the 2012 season with a 4-8 record, including a 2-6 mark in Big Ten play. Ferentz calls the campaign "disappointing," but says the team needs to flip the page and focus on moving forward.
"Our goal is to never be 4-8," said Ferentz. "That's never been our goal and none of us are happy and all of us take ownership. There's not much else we can say.
"The one thing I told the guys is you flip the calendar, it's a new year, a new opportunity. That's how we're looking at it. I don't think it's anything magical that's going to take us to where we want to go. It's a matter of doing the work you have to do and doing it better and the end result is playing better on Saturdays."
Iowa returns 39 letterman and 14 starters -- six on offense and eight on defense. The most notable position open on the depth chart is the quarterback, where the Hawkeyes graduated James Vandenberg, who took every snap in 2012.
"It's not often where this happens, but we're going in with a truly open mind," said Ferentz. "It's not like there's an incumbent there. I don't think anybody has a clear advantage or edge.
"They'll all work with the ones, twos or threes and have an equal opportunity. Whenever the picture becomes clearer, that is when we'll move on it. A lot of times, it goes a long ways."
Ferentz isn't looking for any specific traits in a quarterback aside from someone proficient and efficient in leading the offense.
"It's about moving the team and getting the ball in the end zone somehow, some way," he said. "All three guys have different attributes, but they all have attributes. All three have some things about them that really intrigue, excite, and make you feel good. They've got football mentalities."
Even with a new quarterback under center, the Hawkeyes are on a quest for bigger plays.
"It's tough to be perfect for 12, 14 plays in a row," said Ferentz. "You want to try to do that four times a game, that's hard. Somehow, some way, you have to come up with some bigger plays. Part of that is experience and part of it is us doing a better job in creating those things."
For the second straight offseason, there was movement on the Iowa coaching staff. Bobby Kennedy joined the staff as wide receivers coach, Chris White as running backs/special teams coach, and Jim Reid as linebackers coach.
Six new assistant have joined the program since the 2011 season.
"The room has changed quite a bit," said Ferentz. "It forces more conversation and more things to think about. We've had really good discussions in all three segments.
"It feels a little bit different. The things we thought were important 14 years ago are still important. That is really the foundation of what we try to do as a football team."
"His brothers told him five or six years ago, `Whatever you do, Steve, don't let him make you a lineman,' said Kirk Ferentz. "He started out as quarterback, then was tight end, outside linebacker and now is going back to that same spot in the middle just a little bit further. It's a genetic thing... I played center in seventh grade."