Iowa suffered a 24-15 loss to Purdue on Saturday, dropping the Hawkeyes to 6-5 on the season. Here is what Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said after the game:
COACH FERENTZ: Needless to say, it was a very disappointing, frustrating game for our team. Early when we got challenged out there we weren’t able to execute the way you need to execute. And that’s just the bottom line. So we didn’t get it done.
Told our team in there you win as a team, you lose as a team, and certainly [Saturday night] that’s the case; we lost as a football team. As you look at it, we were hoping for a higher level of consistency in our play. That wasn’t there. And that makes it frustrating, and it makes it disappointing. And I don’t know what else to say about that. That’s where we’re at right now.
We’ve got a short week that we’re looking at here, six days to get ready for Nebraska. This will hurt [Saturday night] certainly, and we’ll have to move a little quicker [Sunday] when we come back. That’s the challenge that’s ahead for us right now. And that’s really where our attention will turn [Sunday].
Q. How do you explain the Ohio State game when you look at the last two weeks?
COACH FERENTZ: Those are some of the questions we’ll have to ask and try to figure out over the next 24 hours.
The one thing I would say, I think you’re looking at separate discussions in both cases. You know, we played, in my mind, as good a defense as you’re going to play last week. So they can make you look bad, and they did. They did a good job of that.
[Saturday], you know, Purdue is much improved defensively. I said that on Tuesday. And they’re a much improved football team. The most significant improvement we’ve seen was on the defensive side, and they played really hard [Saturday] and did some things.
We weren’t up for the challenge. We weren’t equal to it. And part of that was our execution or lack thereof. And the things that we did or didn’t do really seemed to kind of snowball or it was a domino effect, if you will. Get a good play, get a penalty, what have you. Don’t throw it well enough, don’t protect well enough. When we do, we drop it, that type of thing.
Not sure of the answers. We’ll have to get ourselves back on our feet by Monday, though.
Q. Which loss, last week or this week, was more disappointing?
COACH FERENTZ: Losses hurt regardless. And you never feel good after one. Certainly didn’t feel very good last Saturday coming home. And same thing again [Saturday]. We thought we had an opportunity to win. Thought we had an opportunity to win a week ago, too. We came up short in both of them.
So it’s tough to rank losses. There’s nothing really good about any of them. And it’s going to hurt, and we’re going to have to move on here [Sunday].
Q. What went into your decision to go into the wind in the third quarter and how much was wind a factor?
COACH FERENTZ: Wind was a factor. And that’s why we made the decision. That’s kind of a jump ball. And if you pick the right one or at least if you play well off of your decision, then you look like you did the right thing. If you don’t, you don’t.
But we were going to have to go into the wind one of the quarters. Certainly it affects the kicking game. The challenge is when you go into the wind you’ve got to move the ball and at least get it out to midfield and give yourself a chance to put your opponent back a little bit, but it didn’t work out. We weren’t up for the challenge, and that was one more thing on the list of things we didn’t do well enough.
Q. Were you impressed with how they moved the ball in the third quarter, the first series out of halftime?
COACH FERENTZ: They’re a wide-open offensive football team, and their quarterback has been playing well. So the real issue is we gave up some deep balls. And you can’t win doing that, either, giving up big plays. At least if you make people drive the ball and sustain drives then you have a chance to get them off track a little bit. And when you give up the big play you can’t do that.
Q. What led to the 6 sacks?
COACH FERENTZ: Probably a combination of things. They’re a high-pressure outfit. We knew that, just under 40 percent with pressure. So that’s a challenge in itself. But a couple of them were just mental errors where we cut guys loose, a couple more guys getting beat. And that part you can live with. But the mental errors, we’re not going to win football games where you just cut a guy loose. And we did that a couple of times [Saturday].
Q. You almost welcome a short week after 2 tough losses between now and —
COACH FERENTZ: You don’t have much time to dwell on things, that’s for sure. So I guess that’s a positive. And the biggest thing our players are going to have to do that. And how everybody feels right now and what happened [Saturday], it’s all pretty obvious. There’s nothing really good about it that we’ll take away from it.
So we’re going to have to move beyond it, and that’s a bigger challenge, and it’s easier to say than do. That’s going to be the challenge for us. And that short window we’ve got to show some improvement. And a week like this, this far into the season, a lot of it is mental and it’s going to have to be done.
Q. Is there in a nutshell an answer for why the offense stalled out in weeks 10 and 11?
COACH FERENTZ: As I said earlier, I think you’re looking at two different discussions, in my opinion at least. We played a team, I assume they won [Saturday], I don’t know that, Wisconsin. So you’re playing a top-5 team, and anything can happen. We’ve beaten teams in that category. But we certainly didn’t — they’re a good football team, and they played really well against us last week.
And I’m not suggesting Purdue is not a good football team, but they’re not a top-5 team. But they’re playing well. Said that on Tuesday — they’re an improved team. They showed it [Saturday night]; they played well. And we weren’t up to that challenge. It’s two different sources of coming up short.
Q. Offensively, the yardage is subpar, two straight weeks.
COACH FERENTZ: As I said earlier, I think Wisconsin is at the top or near the top in the country defensively. So they’ve done it to several people. It’s kind of like you go back to the Michigan-Wisconsin game last year, it was 14-7. You look at that game, it’s separate than a lot of the games that Michigan played. That’s how I look at things, like every game is separate. [Saturday night] I would like to have thought we could have done a little better. I would like to have thought we could have done better last week, too, but we came up short.
Q. The punt block, roughing the punter, and also the punt return. Did the players do something wrong there?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, both of those. Add that to the list on special teams. Any time you try to pressure the punter, which we did — that was our call on the play, the risk is bumping into him, running into him. And we had not one but two players do that.
So kind of takes me right back, I said on the radio, this happened at Indiana. It was a big play in that game and gave them new life, and they capitalized.
The challenge there is if we still have an opportunity to stop them on defense, and we didn’t do that. So they were able to sustain a drive.
And then fielding the punt [Saturday], there were some things that were better, but the one got over our head and that hurt us. And, obviously, it’s one that Matt would like to have back, and it’s just a tough break.
Q. You guys do such a good job, especially in the past few years, of playing week to week. After the Penn State game and after the Ohio State game, two emotional games, it’s kind of a letdown afterward. When it comes to that, how much does that kind of gnaw at you?
COACH FERENTZ: You deal with everything that comes your way, week to week and day to day. When you lose games, it’s hard. You always search for reasons, and you try to find out — zero in on what might have caused it. And [Saturday] we didn’t execute well enough on any of those three phases, like I said.
The cause, I’m not sure I’m smart enough to know that, but we’re going to have to try to find a way to remedy it at least and play more sound, consistent football. And it’s a six-day schedule, so that’s where we’re at.
Q. What you guys do, what [do] you expect your offense to be every week?
COACH FERENTZ: We clearly didn’t play well enough [Saturday night] on offense. When you talk about running the football, protecting, throwing well enough, catching the ball consistently enough. So you leave plays out there, it makes it tough. Makes it really tough to sustain drives.
And I’ll go back, talking about different games, I’ll go back to the Minnesota game. We had four or five critical plays there that kept us from moving the ball with success.
So against Ohio State we were able to sustain drives and do some good things. Minnesota, we weren’t. And then certainly [Saturday] we weren’t. Last week we weren’t, either, but again I give our team — I’m not giving our team a hall pass, but we were playing a team that’s pretty salty on defense. And against those teams it’s going to be hard to move the ball with consistency.
Q. You have so many players that [inaudible]. Do you find yourself after the last two weeks trying to figure out the right message because they’re not going anywhere; you’re not going anywhere?
COACH FERENTZ: A lot of those guys were playing three weeks ago, too, when we moved the ball. We’re not looking for crutches or excuses, and we’re not going to offer any up. We’ve just gotta do a little bit better, and there are certain things — it’s true of our whole football team — there’s certain things you can’t change when a guy beats you straight up. That’s football, and those guys are trying, too.
But I mentioned the MEs, we cut a guy loose in protection a couple of times. That stuff, you’re not going to win doing that consistently, if you can’t catch the ball consistently, those kinds of things. So those are the things we’ve really got to get shored up here between now and next Friday.
That, to me, is realistic. Some of the other stuff, you know, it’s going to come with time that type of deal. You’ve got to focus on what is realistic.