Q: Minnesota quarterback Max Shortell camped at Iowa, right?
Kirk Ferentz: I don’t think there is a quarterback...there are some that haven’t. Cousins was here too, right? Everyone had a shot at him. Not saying it’s the same but it’s similar. A coaching change...it’s funny the science of recruiting, right? The five star recruits that don’t work and the guys that do. Kirk Cousins told that story at the luncheon a year ago. His first call was ‘Hey you are on our list but we may or may not get to you.’ Then a few weeks later they go after him and he ends up being the most efficient quarterback in Michigan State history. So it happens.
Q: I imagine James Vandenberg is not the kind of guy who needs mental maintenance.
Ferentz: Yes and no. He is a very mentally tough guy and has proven that. You have to be if you are a quarterback. But there is nobody who doesn’t need mental maintenance and if you make that assumption you miss the boat. You try to make sure everyone is doing OK mentally.
Q: Do you have conversations with James on how he is doing?
Ferentz: Yeah. I do with a lot of our players. Just to see how guys are doing, that is important.
Q: You guys built a lot of success back in 2002-2004 on special teams. What has been different these last few years?
Ferentz: It seems like we are a player short. We have talked about this in the past. Like Nielsen being hurt, it seems like one thing leads to another. It’s concerning as it is showing up and we are not getting the edge we need on a consistent basis. It’s interesting if you analyze how some of the teams back ten years ago, who those guys were. The door is open for good stories at any time. Weisman is a great story, we could use a few more of those on special teams and hopefully they are getting ready to emerge
Q: You have lost three of your last four home games, which is a disturbing trend...
Ferentz: Absolutely it is.
Q: Are the problems youth related?
Ferentz: We haven’t played well enough in those three games. They are all different but we didn’t get it done. You never want to lose at home.
Q: Coach Kill spent part of two a days educating players on the importance of rivalry games against Wisconsin and Iowa. Do you spend any extra time going over rivalry games or extra emphasis?
Ferentz: Yes. On top of that, conference games are important for obvious reasons, just like home games are important, away games. All games are. Last week’s game was damned important but we don’t get it back.
Q: How can fan criticisms affect the team?
Ferentz: When you lose a game like that, it’s very possible that you are going to hear negative reaction. Believe me, I don’t go into chat rooms and I don’t listen to talk radio. I can just imagine. I can probably write the script. What do you expect? Just like if we win a big game, it goes the other way. It’s easier said than done. Us coaches are not out there every day. Players are out there seven days a week. I am always thinking about what they are thinking whether we win or lose. If you are in sports, you have to realize that is how it is. I have been places where people really don’t care. It’s not as big a factor, but it still hurts to lose and feels good to win. It felt that way at Worschester Academy.
Q: You lost to Minnesota last year and came back and beat Michigan, you pulled it together and made it to a bowl game. What does it take to have a bounce back ?
Ferentz: You have to get on your feet.
Q: How do you do that?
Ferentz: Some how, some way you have to learn from what happened. In real life there are not things to learn, it’s just life. In football there are certainly things to learn and we talked on Sunday. Once it’s over you have to move on. I know this; the team we are playing has been working hard since yesterday getting ready for us an they are in a good frame of mind. We can’t give up any advantage by thinking about our problems or how it hurt. You can’t do that once Monday comes. That is how I have always tried to look at it.
Q: Is it easier for college aged kids to do that, who do have a lot of motivation. than it is for, say the outside world?
Ferentz: No question. It’s easier for anyone who is actually doing the competing. It’s not easy, but it’s easier for them. Their focus has to change. If I were a fan at home, I don;t have to get ready for Minnesota so all I will do is think about the 300 things we did poorly Saturday. That is sports; it’s always been that way. that is the difference. We have to move on. If we don’t, we will pay for it this Saturday. that is worse than losing last week.