Woods and White Press Conference Transcript
April 10, 2013
Opening Statement: How's everyone doing? Just to start off, I'd like to thank everyone for coming here, obviously. It's an exciting time for us here at Iowa with spring football going. With the new facility, the indoor facility, we're able to use that now. We're using it this spring for the first time in spring football. It's been a great facility. And also with all the excitement going on with the rest of the facility, the rest of the phase is being completed.
So exciting times around here at Iowa football, and some different faces with the coaching staff and some recruits we have coming in that we're excited about. Guys here, particularly the linebacker position, the position I'm around the most, guys are excited. Guys are hungry. They're here working every day. They're here when you come to the office early in the morning, the guys are here and you leave late at night and guys are still here. They're at your office wanting to know what more can I do, how do you see this, those kind of things. That as a coach makes you very excited and getting ready to keep moving, building on momentum that we're trying to build here in spring football into the summer and then into the fall.
Q. How has the adjustment been for you so far as far as working with Jim (Reid) in terms of working with the linebackers and with Chris on special teams?
And also with Chris, I'm excited to work with Chris because he has a background that from playing or excuse me, from coaching in the National Football League that I think will add a new dynamic to our team, and we're doing some things, coaching wise in making things competitive with special teams in the spring, that should help our team moving forward coming up.
Q. What part of special teams how is it divided up?
Q. Coach Ferentz said your experience in the NFL, one of the reasons you had success was on special teams, among other things. How are you able to translate that into coaching these guys and teaching things?
But if you the thing that I think that having played special teams and having a good understanding of it are some of the little tricks that can happen, because sometimes when it's you have officials that watch the game. They watch everything, but they can't quite see everything that happens. So sometimes they're sometimes plays, there are penalties, although there are plays on special teams that go unnoticed, and my point with that is that there are some tricks and little techniques that you can use to help guys be able to finish their block or help guys to understand and know where to fit on a kickoff or on a punt and know how to make the play.
I think having that experience as a player can help, being able to teach those kind of things to the guys, but also, the thing I was particularly excited about with Coach White is that he brings some of those elements to our team, some of the same schemes that I'm familiar with, having played in, Coach White worked with a coach at Minnesota who I played for his father, and some of the things are very similar, so some of the terminology and things have been sort of seamless, and excited to keep moving forward here.
Q. Anthony Hitchens last year made a lot of tackles, but was inconsistent in positioning and technique. What did you see of him on film that suggested he can become better and more consistent and kind of an elite type of defender?
Anthony has a tremendous amount of ability, and he's a guy that I think the sky's the limit for him as a player, and as long as he keeps honing those skills and keeps working on that with his technique and footwork and cleaning up his reads, I think the sky's the limit for him. And we're excited about him, the things that you had spoke about, with all the tackles he had and being able to compete and finish the way he wants to finish.
Q. Do you have any change in Christian, and you have a lot of experience coming back at linebacker. What does that do for this spring? Does it make it easier? Are you allowed to put more things in? What can you do with all the guys having all that starting experience?
What we are focused on is making sure that we have our fundamentals down before we keep installing more defense. But the thing that's exciting, like you said, the three guys all played together last year, so there's a great chemistry amongst those guys. They're always competing to see who can make the play, who's going to be the one to make the play rather than waiting for someone else to make it. So they're constantly competing, going back and forth and pushing each other. And when they push each other, they bring the rest of the guys in the group with them. And then when they do that, you bring the rest of the team with them.
It's been said the linebackers are the heart of the defense. They pump the blood into everybody. They make all the calls, get everyone lined up, and that's something that's held true around here at Iowa and around defense in general, and particularly at Iowa. It's been exciting to see that here this spring.
Q. I imagine you didn't play a lot of special teams at Iowa. But you had one memorable return of a blocked field goal, Coach Ferentz's first win at Iowa, your first season with him. Do you recall, is that a special memory of your time at Iowa, that play?
Q. How have you found the recruiting in Texas? Kind of what's your approach there with so much competition for players?
All the coaches want you to come there. And they'll drop anything to have you there at school and talk with you and visit with you about players, and it's a great opportunity in spring practice to see kids playing football, which is that's what we're trying to evaluate them doing is playing football.
So love recruiting Texas. It is competitive, because every school in the country is down there, but I think if you can there are a lot of Hawkeyes down there that'll help out that know different areas or know kids that'll pass on, you need to check this guy out. So that's been fun.
Q. This weekend you got practice in Des Moines. With that going on and have you ever experienced anything like that, load up, get on the bus?
Q. Did you do that in the NFL?
Q. Is it any kind of distraction or how do you keep the job at hand?
Q. When you think back to your first opportunity as a full time assistant last year, what do you feel is going to help you now going down the road?
So instantly I learned, boom, right there. Some things I learned from Coach Ferentz and looking back and sometimes trying to be too perfect or trying to tell guys too much, if that makes sense, you know, like you can sometimes I think you can kind of paralyze a young man when you tell him do this, do this, do this, if he does that, do this. So that kind of paralyzes a guy. So I'm working hard to kind of just let guys go, let them play. Here's your responsibility. You know you have to be outside. You know you have to do this. Now go and play and then afterwards come back and say you could do this the next time and sort of just rather than kind of paralyze them, if that makes sense.
And from a recruiting standpoint, that was really my first time getting out on the road in my own territory and recruiting. Man, I learned a bunch out there as well because now I kind of know the lay of the land in Dallas, at least how to get around and where some of the kids are, basically a notebook and here are some schools to look at and then go to schools and you learn about other prospects and kind of door to door salesman almost, the first time, but no, when I went back down the second time in our winter recruiting, it was a lot easier. So I'm excited to get back down there in spring and get back on the road recruiting.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about some of those younger backups? I know everybody knows the three starters, but the progress they've made this spring, because you're going to need them a year from now.
And then we have some younger guys like Travis Perry, he's a guy that played a little bit, like I said, and excited about his development and where he's headed as a player. Then you have Quinton (Alston), who I know Coach Reid is excited about Quinton as am I, because one thing for Quinton, he's been sort of sitting waiting in the wings a little bit the whole time. The thing that's been good about him, when he gets in, there's not much of a dropoff, or at least that's what's in his mind, that there shouldn't be a dropoff playing behind James like he did last year. I'm excited about him mashing I use the term mash the gas, keep the pedal down, keep going forward and learn as much as you can, because it could be a broken shoelace and he's in, if he doesn't unseat if he doesn't actually win the spot here in spring.
And then from the will linebacker standpoint, some of the young guys like Laron Taylor, this is the first time I've really gotten a chance to work with Laron, because he's been on scout team before, and then also Marcus Collins, who's a young player and Cole Fisher who has been a young player, those guys just getting the work. And the great thing we had a great off season in the weight room. Guys have come back stronger and quicker than they were last year, which is good, and then continue to develop guys moving forward.
Q. Are James and Christian, you guys talk about going into the NFL, are they that caliber? I think Christian's only been playing since his sophomore year, I think.
Q. Can they make that leap? You know what it takes.
Q. Do you have to spend extra time with John Kenny making the big adjustment?
Sometimes it's stressful for a kid not knowing where do I pick up my books or where is my first class, and you're focused on that and you can't really focus on football. So he's getting all of that worked out right now while he's learning the defense. I think he's doing a good job for a guy that's never done it before. He's sort of playing a little out of position, but he's doing a good job.
Q. Can you put a percentage on your time with special teams and your time with the defense? I have no idea how that works. I'm just curious.
I think that instantly allows the coach to see this young man, if he can excel on special teams, if he can do that, then you can translate it to playing linebacker. That's the thing I'm excited about this year, some of the young guys getting the opportunity to play on special teams and then we'll have three seniors leaving the next year, that they'll be able to be that much better as linebackers in the defense.
I missed college football. I just missed the interaction with the players, the whole college atmosphere. And I came down here and I just got blown away. I've always admired this program. You know, I was at Syracuse for a number of years. We played, I guess it was '06, I believe, when they came to the Iowa came to the Carrier Dome, and we had that great game; and I can remember the goal line stand there that they had, and the thing that stuck out to me about that game was the crowd. The away crowd was probably the biggest away crowd that we had at Syracuse, and it was all Iowa fans. So the people here are passionate about their football, and it's very evident just coming for Sunday's deal at Valley and it sold out within how long.
And then the next year we came back and played here, and that was impressive, a night game, and we got whipped pretty good. And the other things, I worked with Chad Greenway. Chad Greenway to me epitomizes what Iowa football is all about, and you don't make them any better than that. And come down here and there's a bunch of Chad Greenways here.
So this has been a great experience for me. It's been a whirlwind just trying to juggle everything, but I'm really super excited to be here and I hope I can help out.
Q. When you kind of look through your career, you coached everything from receivers to defensive backs and quarterback. Is running back a different kind of challenge for you? What about that position drew you to it?
I used running back drills to teach the returners, in terms of ball security, how to catch a football, how to tuck it high and tight. And I'm very fortunate that I have an older brother that coaches running backs at University of Florida. He was at Wisconsin for a bunch of years, the offensive coordinator. He coached Ron Dayne, and I may be biased, but I think he's the best running back coach in the country, and I lean on him for drills and rephilosophy a lot.
Q. Just your thoughts on the running backs you have here. You've had a chance to look at them now.
Damon is a really talented player, and what he's focused on right now is little things, exchanging the football, getting the ball high and tight, not loose on his body, really being a physical, complete player. He made a block on a blitzing linebacker the other day and earned the respect of the whole team, including the head coach and the assistants. So that's been fun to watch.
Jordan has a chance to be a really good back, and the younger guys, you know, Michael Malloy, unfortunately he had a little tweak right before spring, and hopefully we'll get him back before the end of spring football. And then Barkley Hill, he's coming back from an injury right now and he had a good practice the other day. I'm excited to see him.
And we have three young recruits coming in that I watched film on and I think that the future of the program is in pretty good hands.
Q. There's been sort of a lot of talk or a lot of thought of playing Weisman and Bullock together. What that might present in challenging your defense and what are your thoughts on that?
Q. After coaching special teams in the NFL, have you had to cut back the sophistication at all or will you just go with your basic beliefs there?
There's things, rule things that are different, for example, on punt, this whole spread out shield punt deal you can't do in the NFL because they can't go down field. Only the gunners can go down field. So that's a whole different world. It's a huge adjustment for me. That's why I'm leaning on LeVar on a lot of things, too.
When I left college football, the shield punt was just kind of starting to be a new fad. Now it's the thing to do, and I don't extensively know a lot about it. So little things like that are different.
But as far as in style, we're going to run the same returns that we ran with Percy Harvin. I hope Jordan can do the same things Percy did and I know Jordan did a nice job on kickoff return last year.
Q. You mentioned shield formation. Is that something you contemplate installing here at Iowa or are you going to stick with the basic?
Q. With all the running backs healthy this spring, this was a big thing last year, how exciting has it been to have them healthy and see the different packages that you can use with Weisman having to take most of the carries last year, now with Damon healthy, how exciting has it been to see the combinations you have?
We got some young fullbacks, Adam Cox, and we moved Macon Plewa over, and I'll tell you what, those guys are football players, and they're making an impact. So it's been fun. And then we're going to continue to get better each day until spring ball ends.
Q. The special teams, the specialist kicker punter, I think it's Mike (Meyer) this year, is there competition in those spots?
Q. How much easier would it make all this talk about opening up the offense and creating those matches, if Weisman can prove to be that sort of north south slobber knocker type of guy that he was last year?
Q. With the injury history does it affect how you guys go through practice this spring a little bit, not that you take it easy on them?
Q. Not only the history with Weisman and Bullock, but with the eight running backs in the last four years, just different injuries and leaving the program. Does that affect how you approach the spring at all?
I firmly believe you have to learn how to fall with the ball in your hand. So there's times where we need to tackle the guy to the ground. But there's also times where the defense needs to be smart too. This is a thud carry, don't take the guy out don't take his legs out.
Q. If you coached special teams in the NFL, a lot of times the camera is focused on the special teams coach in the NFL, good or bad, it seems like I don't think Kirk has had sort of a quote, unquote director of special teams. Do you like that hat? Do you like that sort of spotlight? Are you ready for it?
But they bought in. And the special teams here have been pretty good over the history of the program, and I think what Coach Ferentz wants to do is make sure the emphasis is back to where, you know, he always says this is how we win here. We're tough. We got the best strength coach in America, special teams, Chad Greenways of the world. They've worked their way up, okay. And we're smart, tough, disciplined and play great special teams, and that's why I'm here.
Q. How do you envision Iowa running the ball? Now that you're here, is it kind of what you thought it was on the inside?
Q. You've been away from recruiting for a while. Is it like riding a bike?
When coaches say, would you prefer to be in the NFL or college, recruiting is why most coaches want to be in the NFL. My phone's ringing off the hook. I got 3,000 emails. That's the part that kind of wears you. You gotta juggle that with the special teams and the running backs.
I think I've lost seven pounds since I've been here. My wife's not here yet and we gotta get our house settled. So I haven't been eating well.
Q. What's your philosophy in recruiting? What's your approach with kids?
Q. Fullback's been on the field about 25 percent to a third of the time during the last couple of years. Has that position been de emphasized a little bit or do you expect the percentages to go down or will it stay about the same?
So that's the dilemma that we're going to have. Well, not dilemma. It's the good problem we're going to have of figuring out which tight end do we want in there or do we want the fullback in there.
Q. Maybe the wide back kind of replace some of the stats where it could be like offset high.
Q. One thing that Coach Frasier you talked about the 3 and 13 team, once he knew the starting possession, was it a big thing for you guys, like you said, you went off the starting position and you guys were No. 1 in that. Is that something you want to bring to Iowa, too, talk about starting possession?
Q. Coach, on Twitter you said you have the opportunity to coach the best one two combination in the country.
Q. You mentioned Jordan being one of the return guys. Who else are you looking at kickoff, punt return?
What we're doing, like LeVar said, is we're trying to put the guys in competitive periods. At the end of practice everything's going to be a compete deal, and for the returns as well. We're either going to punt it or shoot a jug there and there's going to be guys flying at them. I want to see who can catch it with bullets flying at them, who can leverage the ball, who can get off a block and make a play. So we're finding out a lot about the guys who can play in space and the guys who can catch the ball and who are not afraid to catch the ball.
Q. Barkley Hill and Jordan Canzeri are both coming off injuries, how much contact are they dealing with at practice now and how are they looking in their return?
Barkley is more in the we need to make sure that you don't give him too many reps, make sure that he's still kind of feeling his way through that injury. And he's fighting it, but it's good.