This week’s five questions were answered by Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz:
1. After all the turnover the past two seasons, how nice is it to have your coaching staff intact?
Kirk Ferentz: “We’ve kind of re-invented ourselves in some ways. I feel like we’re loaded up for the next decade. I don’t know how the assistants feel, but that’s the way I’m looking at it. And it really came together quickly last spring. I was amazed, pleased with just how well everybody meshed during spring practice. Not only coaches and coaches, but players and coaches. The whole thing ran pretty smoothly.”
2. What do you think of the Big Ten’s new Western Division, which is more geographically friendly?
KF: “Going back to the expansion, we all knew it was going to be, not uncomfortable, but different. Not playing Illinois, not playing Wisconsin, it was different. I would imagine our fans, first and foremost, are happy about just having the ability to jump in a car and get to opponent’s stadiums a little bit easier. I personally like that concept and that idea.”
3. With the Big Ten moving to a nine-game schedule (in 2016), has that changed what you want in the nonconference?
KF: “Our philosophy for a long time was to play two (BCS level) teams. To me, all that happened is one of those two is going to be a Big Ten opponent. The trick was to make sure we have that extra home game. Get the Iowa State series to correlate with that, so we don’t lose a home game. To me, it was just a tradeoff. Probably made our scheduling easier in some ways.”
4. How has Connor Kornbrath responded to being challenged for the punting job, by junior college transfer Dillon Kidd?
KF: “Every one of our guys on our roster is basically in a competition. I think that’s a good thing. I think players want that. Players want to compete.”
5. Have you raised the ceiling or expectations for returning quarterback Jake Rudock?
KF: “First thing I think about Jake, going into last year … you don’t know necessarily about their physical toughness. How they’re going to handle getting banged around a little bit. And then, the highs and lows of the season, how do they deal with those things? We know a lot more about (Rudock) now, so our expectation level for him is going to be a little different than a guy who hasn’t played.”