Kirk Ferentz discusses slow start against Illinois, looking ahead to senior day matchup with Wisconsin
One of the stories that continue to fly somewhat under the radar is the Iowa turnaround in 2020.
Things looked bleak after two games as the Hawkeyes sat at 0-2. Since then, however, Kirk Ferentz’s squad has kicked it into high gear and then some as Iowa has won five consecutive games and looks to make it six on Saturday against Wisconsin.
A day after his team’s latest win against Illinois, Ferentz sat down for his Sunday conversation.
"The best thing that happened was our players kept playing, the coaches kept coaching and things started getting better.”
Sunday Conversation with Coach Ferentz ⤵️
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— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) December 6, 2020
It started with Ferentz talking about the win over the Illini. Iowa did not have the quickest start as the Hawkeyes trailed 7-0 after the first quarter and then 14-13 at the half.
“Our slow start was a team effort. There’s nothing that looked very good the first 18, 20 minutes,” Ferentz said. “Sometimes, defensively, it takes time to get a feel for the game and how things are going to go. The defensive staff did a good job making a couple tweaks once we got a feel where (Illinois was) trying to attack us.
“Most importantly, our players responded to what was going on.”
That response was aided by an offense that came to life in the first half.
“Leave it to a fullback to get you started in the passing game of all things,” Ferentz said. “It was a good decision by (quarterback) Spencer (Petras) to drop it off to Monte and then it was a 20 yard gain. Monte took it and made a nice gain.”
Petras is having this sort of success all while still learning on the fly.
“You have to give Spencer a lot of credit because he was part of that bad start to the game,” Ferentz said. “For a guy who is inexperienced, still developing confidence to start out that badly…and then rebound it the way he did gives you insight to his character.”
Now, Iowa turns its sights to Wisconsin, a team reeling after two consecutive losses in a season overshadowed by cancellations due to COVID-19 protocol. It’ll be senior day in Iowa City, a much different senior day than we’ve seen previously.
“To honor the seniors is always special but won’t be quite the same,” Ferentz said. “It’s like the military heroes that we honor, you wish they could be there in front of 70,000.
“I wish the same for our seniors, but I can’t say enough about what they have done, whether it’s guys that have been here four years, five years or guys like (defensive lineman) Jack Heflin that joined the team this past year or (defensive lineman) Zack (VanValkenburg) two years ago.”