Narrowing Their Sights
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz held his last press conference before the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl Monday, saying that his team is starting to narrow its sights on its matchup against Louisiana State University.
"Things are moving along," Ferentz said. "We've been busy with recruiting, so we've been balancing a mix of a few things with bowl prep and recruiting. We've got our hands full, so we're looking forward to narrowing our sights now.
"I just hope to be on the plane that leaves on Thursday."
The nationally-ranked Hawkeyes have had seven practices since clinching a share of the Big Ten Conference Championship on Nov. 20, all with having to contend with a holiday and final exams.
"The workouts have been quicker," the coach said. "We just had a logistical meeting, and now we're really looking at LSU tape. I think a lot of the players are anxious to turn the page."
The coach also reported that senior offensive lineman Pete McMahon has been the only Hawkeye not practicing other than those who had surgeries during the season.
Ferentz also hasn't yet learned of any academic reports that may adversely affect the team.
"We'll know whenever they tell us," he said. "I'm not too concerned about a lot based on what I know so far."
Here are a few more points from Monday's meeting:
"They run the ball extremely well," Ferentz said. "Their running backs just have obscene yards per carry averages. And they have a veteran group up front. It's very athletic and very well coached."
Saban is rumored to be a top contender for the head coaching position at Miami, and Ferentz said it appears as if the longtime coach will take the job.
"It looks that way from where I'm sitting," he said. "He's got a very unique opportunity to carve out his niche, and I'm sure it's very attractive for him."
But, says Ferentz, all the staffing talk probably won't be a distraction for the team they're about to face.
"The team will be motivated, and Nick will fall right in line with that," Ferentz said. "We're going to get their best shot, which is a little scary because they're really good."
"Especially about the style of play up front," he said. "They're really physical, but they have different fronts and are more active in the blitz game."
Small wonder Ferentz says LSU is just "one more log on the fire - a big log."
"They're as talented as anyone I've seen," he said. "I felt that way about USC (in 2002). It's another top 10-quality team, and it's going to be heckuva challenge. It's going to take our best game to beat them."
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com