Kirk Ferentz: It's not the worst one.
Q: Michigan State was pretty bad, right?
Ferentz: Not pretty bad. You are being kind.
Q: Is Purdue the worst?
Ferentz: No. No.
Q: How does it work when trying to find a left tackle? I know you have a few guys in mind, how does that sort out in practice?
Ferentz: We've prepared for this. Part of the equation is we have lost two of them; we have lost two tackles. That is Donnal's main position.
You never have enough tackles in the pool. We just lost two of them. That leaves three.
Q: Was there a good chance Donnal would have moved out to left tackle if he hadn't gotten hurt?
Ferentz: Yes, that would have been a consideration.
Q: Was that something you had thought about after Brandon had gotten hurt, or were you comfortable leaving Nolan there?
Ferentz: At that point, we would have stayed with what we were doing. Big picture, it would have been a consideration.
Q: You say you have three left, Van Sloten MacMillan...
Ferentz: Tobin has played tackle.
Q: The offensive line had a good rhythm going though.
Ferentz: It happens. When Blythe came out, Donnal had to jump in there. I would compare Blythe to Bullock. We talk about Damon like he is a veteran; he's played three games. Blythe has played three games.
He has played though, not that he has played his best football yet that is still ahead of him. We will plug that up. you have a guy there who has played and we will figure out the left tackle position. Nolan did some good things.
Q: How hard is it to get that rhythm back?
Ferentz: We have five days. That is what you do. It is a challenge any time but when any player gets eliminated because of injury; it makes it different. Those things happen.
Q: What are some of the things that JVB has to do if any to counteract the newness on the OL?
Ferentz: He just has to play. He can't worry about who is playing left tackle. I am sure he will be aware of who is in there. When the game gets going, every player has to play their position the best they can and worry about their responsibilities and James has plenty on his plate. He doesn't need to worry who is playing where on the line. You have to have faith in your teammates
Q: Quicker drops?
Ferentz: No. It's like anything, if the pocket breaks down, you have to improvise. We have had breakdowns in our first game with our starting group. We had breakdowns the other night before we were injured.
Q: With James, you expect improvement each week, to learn and get better..is there a maximization point with a 5th year senior that you know exactly what he can and can't do?
Ferentz: Tom Brady is still getting better. There was a great article on Peyton Manning a few weeks ago. It never ends. It's a great thing about life and sports; it never ends and you can always improve and do more. James is built that way; it's how he thinks. It's a good thing.
Q: When players get hurt like Scherff and Donnal, how do you keep them a part of the team?
Ferentz: It's really hard. Once they get through their medical part of things, they are around the team and in meetings...but if you talk to any player that is hurt or has been hurt, which is just about every player, no matter how close they stay there is a feeling of disconnect.
There are two phases of being injured. One is the physical thing to work through which is not a lot of fun. There are also a lot of quiet hours there that people don't realize that get stacked up. Be it rehabbing or doing the work to try to get back. That is hard and sometimes painful.
The medical staff are unsung heroes. People don't realize what they do behind the scenes. The other part is the mental part, besides the pain and the realization that you will be out for a while, you just can't help but feel disconnected and that is the worst part about it.
You can be standing right there with everyone else, you just don't feel like you are a part of it. I cant articulate why that is, but it's unanimous.
Q: What can you and your assistants do to ease that process?
Ferentz: you try to address it, but it's still...you can't erase the feeling. It's one of those things...like losing or winning. Those are feelings you can't really duplicate any other way. You have to experience it. It's a hard deal. The other part besides missing time is the mental stuff that you go through.
Q: Have you had any experience with a Diva type QB?
Ferentz: I've seen them, I have never had them.
Q: Ego management...you don't strike me as a guy who is into ego management. I am not saying you need that for James. Do you have that sort of arrow in the quiver there in case something like that comes up?
Ferentz: I am not sure I am following this whole thing.
Q: How would you deal with the diva QB, who needs stroked.
Ferentz: Do I stroke people? I am not sure I am following this whole thing. A big part of coaching, not just for a head coach but any coach, is trying to communicate with players. Whatever the topic may be. So the more that you do the better. Every player is different.
Q: Nolan, it seemed like a few years back he was on track to be next big thing on the line, then he had the injuries. What was his response through all that sitting?
Ferentz: It's hard to do. We talked about it. It's hard on a player when they miss time. There is the physical facet and the mental facet. As hard as it will be for Scherff and Donnal, the silver lining is they have a chance to come back. the worst thing is when a senior gets hurt and he is done for the year. That is a hard one to spin.
In Nolan's case you had hope. Those were not debilitating type of injuries. You have to stay with it. Pat Angerer's story is well documented. he went through challenges and hardships and was on the verge of quitting but he stuck with it and its a great story.
Anytime you pack it in, the only thing you are assured of is you have no chance of working things out. if you stick with it there are no guarantees but at least you give yourself a chance.