Kirk on the Side

July 28, 2011

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation’s Big Ten & Iowa Media Day coverage is brought to your courtesy of the Iowa Clinic’s Urology Department

Q: Is Dan Heiar redshirting?

Kirk Ferentz: Most likely. I don’t see him getting back full speed until September.

Q: Will he face discipline when he gets back (from OWI charge)?

Ferentz: Naturally. He missed a lot of time, and has been in serious shape physically. He has been working to get his academic work completed and once he gets back, we will handle that.

Q: How is Brad Rogers?

Ferentz: I think we are making progress, but it has been a long road. That part is frustrating for everyone. The good thing is at least with each turn and with each test, things are positive. He is working, not with us, but with the cardio people in the hospital. We are hopeful at some point he will have some reentry back into the program. We have to be very cautious to make sure everything is OK.

Q: Any idea how far away from playing he is?

Ferentz: No, I don’t. I wish I did. I may know more next week. Next time we meet. I think we are meeting on Tuesday. It’s been a serious issue and a lot of the things they are concerned about have been ruled out, which is good. There are some things that take time to run tests and see how he is progressing. We are hoping to have him back, we are on eight months now. The good news is he is moving in right direction.

Q: Will you save a camp spot for him?

Ferentz: He is coming to camp, unless I learn something contrary to that next week.

Q: Are all the freshmen players eligible?

Ferentz: As far as I know, I expect everyone ready to go

Q: You have been around long enough to see the Big Ten in a lot of stages, do you feel like this is a transition period with Nebraska and all of the high profile coaching changes?

Ferentz: I wasn’t here in 1992 with Penn State coming in. It’s different. It will feel different. I said that before they decided on the divisions. It will be a different feel this year, certainly. We will all get settled in and what have you. One thing about change, if you look around the world of sports, we live in a world of change. I developed a motto back in Maine and asked my wife that if I ever say I am surprised by something, to hit me.

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Q: What do you think about Brady Hoke and Luke Fickell?

Ferentz: Brady Hoke, we faced when he was at Ball State. They were well coached. One of the films that helped us the most in preparation for our bowl game was the San Diego State vs Missouri game. I expect to see a Michigan team that is well coached and they have good talent. Luke Fickell, a friend of mine told me about him six or seven years ago to keep an eye on him as an up and coming coach. I expect him to do a great job.

Q: Can you imagine the challenge of stepping in as first time head coach in that high profile situation?

Ferentz: Probably different than starting out at Maine, for sure.

Q: What was your reaction Tressel’s dismissal?

Ferentz: It’s an unfortunate circumstance I guess. That is part of what goes on in the world, not only in sports but our world in general. We all move on.

Q: Can you give us a health update?

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Ferentz: The guys that had surgeries are all doing fine. We had a few guys that had some things later on that may make them slower to start camp, but overall we are doing well.

Q: How big do you expect the Nebraska game to become?

Ferentz: They have such a strong tradition that goes back forever. It’s like playing Ohio State or Michigan. Ours is more recent. Looking back as my first game as a head coach in 1999, we were ranked 140th and Nebraska might have been first, and the next year was the same. The field should be more level now than a decade ago. We played them in 1981 and 1982. One was fun and one wasn’t so fun. They have a great team, great program and Bo has done a fantastic job. It will be a great challenge for us.

Q: People have been referring to your team as being a ‘sleeper’ team this year. Do you like that role?

Ferentz: Time will tell. Time will tell. I like our team. I think we have an opportunity to grow and develop, but we have to do it. We have done that better in some years than others. That will be the challenging task for us and we have to stay healthy

Q: Did any of your summer drills changed due to the heat?

Ferentz: Those guys have worked hard and pushed hard. It seems like every time we have the Shrine Game, that week is particularly warm. It was last week. It reminded me of Gallery’s picture in the paper when he was coming out of high school in the summer of 2000. It was 99 degrees and ridiculous. It has been tough, but you adjust things some. Our players are tired, I know that. I had a group out to the house last week and it was a pretty quiet group. They didn’t move around a lot. they were talking, but they were not playing basketball or anything like that.

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Q: I was talking Matt Millen earlier and he was talking about how impressed he was with James Vandenberg in 2009 against Ohio State. Do you take more confidence away from that performance as it relates to James?

Ferentz: I do. It’s a real credit to him and he had a lot of help. Stanzi and Ken O’Keefe helped him get ready You can’t ask a guy to compete any better than he did. He made a few mistakes, but for a first time start that was impressive in an important game. The next week was another step in the education. We will see some ups and downs in September, but he will level off and do well. He has worked hard. We have watched him prepare in practice, as have his teammates. He is so invested, and Stanzi was the same way. that makes you feel good, and now he has to go do it. We have all the confidence he will do it. We had to replace AJ Edds, a three-year starter, with Tyler Nielsen and he may have played better than Edds did the year before.

Q: Is Donovan Johnson still with the team?

Ferentz: He has left the team. He has left school, I should say.

Q: Was it his decision?

Ferentz: I think he will end up in a junior college. you can connect the dots on that one

Q: How did you find out about Dean Tsopinides?

Ferentz: It was a random thing. Ken was spring recruiting and they had a combine going on at the school and he caught Ken’s eye and we looked at tape and one thing led to another. I am guessing he is undersized and that is why some chose not to recruit him. We liked his aggressiveness and we are not a size team. We didn’t have those slot bars you see in amusement parks. We are excited about him and impressed with all areas.

Q: Dominic Alvis at defensive tackle raised a few eyebrows today.

Ferentz: He played both in the spring, tackle and end. I am not saying he is Karl Klug, but Karl had that versatility. There are parallels between the two guys. He is a guy that can do it mentally and physically at both positions. With our line next year, we know what we have with Binns and Daniels, then its fitting the pieces a bit. That is one position, and in the secondary, that are going to be interesting to watch to see how it unfolds in August and maybe even September

Q: Can we officially call Micah Hyde a free safety now?

Ferentz: if you want to you could. He is right now. But we know what he can do at corner. It’s more a matter of the other pieces of the puzzle. We wanted to see if he could do it, which we are confident he can and play well back there as far as knowing what to do, making the calls. It’s a real quarterback position. We are not sure what else we have back there. The other factor is what happens at corner. you have BJ Lowery and Greg Castillo, they are in the mix. I am confident that Prater and Hyde will be starting will be starting when we get going.

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