Q: Is Northwestern’s locker room the worst in the Big Ten?
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.