More Kinnick observations

September 13, 2008

Here are a few observations at Kinnick Stadium today:

Linebacker Pat Angerer and safety Tyler Sash are working with the first-team defense. Sash was listed as a co-starter with Harold Dalton entering the game. Angerer and Jacody Coleman were listed as first-team MLBs before the first game but then Coleman emerged as the starter for the first game.

Driving to the stadium was much more difficult today than during Iowa’s first two games. For two reasons, that’s shouldn’t have been the case. One, the other games were sellouts, so why were there more cars on the road this morning? Two, it’s raining so tailgating should have been less appealing. Either way, it took me twice as long to get to Kinnick from North Liberty as the last two weeks.

As The Gazette’s Iowa State reporter Eric Peterson and I cruised into our parking lot, I was struck by a pair of buses parked one behind the other. The first was a yellow school-bus type with the words “Alcohawk” on the side. I can’t imagine those riders were much older than 23. The second bus was from Aviva, which promotes a holistic and healthy approach to natural living. One wonders if the groups were sharing a Hamm’s or two, live from the land of sky-blue waters.

Iowa State is actually wearing cardinal red pants. That’s the only difference I can tell between the Cyclones and USC. Of course, the game hasn’t started yet so the comparisons could end right there.

QB Marvin McNutt is working with the wide receivers and not throwing warm-up passes. Earlier in the week Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said he needed to get McNutt on the field. He was evasive when asked if that would be at wide receiver, but his position switch would not happen “this week.”

Lastly, and I think I speak for everyone from the Midwest to Texas. Will it ever quit raining?


Ferentz said WHAT about Iowa State?

September 12, 2008

Friday morning. Sheraton Hotel. Kirk Ferentz and 400 Hawkeyes drinking 90-proof Hawkeye kool-aid with no chaser.

And Kirk Ferentz said the 13-point spread favoring Iowa is ridiculous. “They’re delusional and don’t understand the series.”

Ferentz gave credit to Iowa State Coach Gene Chizik and the Cyclones and didn’t say anything inflamatory.

“Iowa State is a much-improved team from a year ago. They look better physically and are certainly more comfortable in the second year under Coach Chizik. Offensively they’re playing with 2 quarterbacks, and they rotate them in. They’re both good throwers, accurate throwers, but they bring that extra dimension of being excellent runners.

“Defensively, they’re very aggressive. I think probably one of the biggest things is that they’ve improved in special teams. A big part of their team is very opportunistic.

“We have to raise our level of play. We know that.

As for news, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian (hamstring) and tight end Mike Sabers (bad ankle sprain) won’t play, Ferentz said. Tight end Tony Moeaki (broken left foot) will play in a limited role. Moeaki hasn’t played since Iowa’s fourth game last year.

Other Ferentz quips:

“I don’t know what caused the separation of the series back in 1934 but I think absolutely tremendous that it started back up,” Ferentz said. “I know one thing for sure is that it’s been competitive the last nine or 10 years.”

“I’m not close to a lot of people in the media, and that might not be a surprise to you,” Ferentz said. “Just about everybody in the media has been fantastic save for one or two.”

“We’re very pleased with the start of the season,” Ferentz said. “There are lot of positives and the most obvious is that the players are showing up at the stadium ready to go.”

“I’m happy to report that his record is better than mine,” Ferentz said about Rabbi Portman giving an invocation during big games.

Bob Brooks was the emcee and received a standing ovation. “Save that for the head coach,” Brooksie said.

“I have a long lineage of trying to figure out that the Cedar Rapids Gazette is not an afternoon paper,” Brooksie said when explaining he wasn’t a morning person.

When I-Club President Gary Upchurch said he paid $48 for a student season-ticket, Brooksie retorted, “Do you know what I paid in 1939? I paid a quarter … That was for the season.”

Brooksie talked about Ferentz’s weekly press conference and Ferentz’s way of saying little.

“He’s making progress,” Brooksie recalled when Ferentz is asked about a player.  “I don’t know whether that’s academic progress or progress.

“You ask about a game situation, and you get a sometimes yes, sometimes no.”

Brooksie said the real information comes from the post-press conference press conference. “When he pressured up against the wall and press from all corners of the state figures he he’s going to have a special moment, Kirk I admire you for that. I’ll guarantee it Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes would never never done it.”

Brooksie talked about the Iowa-Iowa State series restarting in 1977. By restarting the series after 44 years, “Iowa became more of a Hawkeye state,” he said.


Ferentz radio show highlights

September 11, 2008

On his weekly radio show, Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz talked about a variety of topics. Those include:

On Marvin McNutt: “(Quarterback and top athlete) Marvin McNutt I think one of the most outstanding young people on campus. We’re hopeful we can get him on the field.” That could include playing him at other positions, Ferentz said afterward.

Ferentz said he’s trying to red-shirt DT Cody Hundertmark. “If we can pull that off it would be a good thing and a healthy thing.” Hundertmark played last year as a true freshman.

Ferentz received his first call from an Iowa State fan from Marshalltown who complained about snotty Iowa fans during Iowa-ISU week. Ferentz’s response: “First of all I really don’t talk to Cyclones.” Ferentz then admitted he was joking but said the atmosphere surrounding the Iowa-ISU game is better today than it was 26 years ago when he started as an Iowa assistant coach. That was just four years after the rivalry was restarted.

On Adrian Clayborn: “Really came on during the course of last season. I think he’s got a great future. Good team guy.” Said Clayborn was lost in the shuffle early on but “has built a good foundation.”On backup defensive tackle Karl Klug earning the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Award: “I thought that was unusual but it was great to see. I’m only laughing because he was runner-up honorable mention on our own team.”

“We play better when we run the football.” Funny comment: “They want us to play a little bit left-handed.” Ferentz, by the way, is left-handed.

On recent recruiting classes, especially along the defensive line: “We worked hard to build depth.”

On weekly improvement from week one to week two: “The good news is we can still gain more ground. The big thing we have to do is keep pushing forward. We have a lot of room for improvement.”

Another caller asked about Iowa’s tight-end situation, highlighting Tony Moeaki returning from a broken foot and Brandon Myers playing solidly since last year. Ferentz said: “We’ve always considered those guys both starters. Tony will be back on a limited basis. He’s way behind in terms of conditioning.” We’re probably more anxious to get

Another caller asked about Iowa’s coin flip possibilities. Ferentz said: “I’m a little superstitious. We chose to defer (at Michigan State in 2003 and the Spartans went up the field and scored). Ever since then I’ve been a little gunshy on changing that strategy. (He prefers to take the ball)

Another caller asked about the QB situation and Rick Stanzi winning the job: “I think the thing I like about it is both guys are playing better. If we’re throwing the ball well it just means we’re having more production. … I think to me he has played better than Jake has the last month and a half. We’re happy with both guys. We’re continue to learn a lot more about Rick, about Jake and our team.”

On special teams: Our return game is off to a great start. The kick return area just fell off the table last year, and that hurt us. For us to to have a chance to be successful with the rest of our schedule, we’re going to have to be good on special teams. …

On comparing the blocked field goal in Ames last year with the blocked field goal Saturday vs. Florida International: “That (in Ames) was a breakdown fundamentally, and that was disappointing. The one Saturday was a technical thing. It’s correctible.”

Ferentz said practice has been more intense this week, and the team has practiced well since the school restarted.

Injury front: LB Jeff Tarpinian (hamstring) “is working his way back. He’s making progress.” Offensive lineman Dan Doering (broken hand): “He’s back working and now finding a comfort level.” WR Trey Stross likely will play.

On freshmen QBs James Vandenberg and John Wienke and RB Jeff Brinson: “We’re pleased with all three of those guys. Pleased with what they did in camp. Doing a good job representing our opponents on a weekly basis. We’re really pleased with the last few recruiting classes.”

Ferentz on ISU: We’re going to have to be our sharpest out there, there’s no doubt about it.” He said one difference is that ISU likes to use the QB to run the football.

On Austin Arnaud and Phillip Bates, ISU’s QBs: Ferentz said Arnaud is a better passer and Bates is a better runner. He said he tried to snag Arnaud but couldn’t seal the deal.

Ferentz said the team needs to tackle better and didn’t tackle well last week.

On new assistant coach Erik Campbell (wide receivers) and his recruiting area: Michigan, Texas and look at specific positions. “He’s a perfect fit for our university and our state.”

 

On teaching a football philosophy class like Ohio State’s Jim Tressel: “Probably not.”

On offensive line: “When you talk about pass protection, everybody is involved. There’s times at practice I wonder, but I wonder about a lot of things.”

On secondary: Amari Spievey is playing well, Ferentz said.


“America’s Game” returns to NFL Network

September 3, 2008

The latest installment of “America’s Game” returns to NFL Network tonight with a one-hour documentary on the 2007 New York Giants. These documentaries — one for each Super Bowl champion — are among the best in sports television history. That’s likely to continue tonight.

I think I join most football fans who remain in shock that the Giants actually won the Super Bowl last year. With Michael Strahan as a key interview, I’m sure it’s filled with less coachspeak than any of last year’s Patriots’ players. The Giants certainly have an interesting story to tell.

The only issue I have with the recent “America’s Game” installments is the lack of context they sometimes provide to the viewer. If the Giants win one or more Super Bowls over the next 5 years, the 2007 season will be viewed differently than its current interpretation. That was true about the 2006 Colts episode and 2005 Steelers. But make no mistake: this series is worth watching, either on the NFL Network now or eventually on DVD.

Later this month, the NFL Network will start the series “Missing Rings,” which profiles five great teams that failed to win the Super Bowl. On Sept. 18, the series debuts with the 1981 San Diego Chargers, which lost the “Freezer Bowl” to Cincinnati in the AFC championship. On Sept. 25, the network airs the 1969 Vikings’ story. On Oct. 2, the network features the 1990 Buffalo Bills. Two other installments — the 1998 Vikings and the 1988 Cincinnati Bengals — will air later in October. I can imagine the depth of emotion and perspective of each losing team could make these episodes even more revealing than the “America’s Game” series. I hope NFL Films continues to make these documentaries into the future.

The NFL Network has streamlined its nightly lineup, with the “Missing Rings” series played on Thursdays, a Classic Game airing on Friday and its Top 10 series on Saturday nights. The network has plans to air the 1975 Hail Mary Game between the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 12. That game was bumped four times in August to accommodate breaking Brett Favre news. A few of the Top 10 episodes planned include Super Bowl performances and home-field advantages.


Curing cancer, satellite woes

September 2, 2008

Just kidding about the cancer part, but our sports department was bombarded Saturday morning with calls from satellite customers who couldn’t find the Iowa game. We hope this situation never recurs again.

To prevent such a happening again, here is the site to end all sites: http://www.bigtennetwork.com/gamefinder/ 

This site will tell you which channel will televise the game, whether it’s DirecTV or Dish Network. It’s right up there with the wheel and Al Gore’s favorite invention, the Internet.


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