Here's what Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said in his Week 4 press conference before Colorado State game
IOWA CITY — One last nonconference breather before Iowa's Big Ten schedule ramps back up.
No. 6 Iowa (3-0) hosts Colorado State (1-2) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday inside Kinnick Stadium. Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz met with the media Tuesday to dissect the matchup and the Iowa program as a whole.
On Iowa's offensive improvement vs. Kent State
"I think we took strides," Ferentz said. "We were a little more detailed, and I thought today was probably our best offensive practice this year, which may coincide with fall. It felt like fall, but we seemed a little more cohesive out there and a little better with our execution, that type of thing. It takes time, and it's frustrating at times. You want things to go faster and all that. And we're not there yet, but I think we're at least moving in the right direction.
"We saw some things out there Saturday. Again, that (20-play) drive obviously sticks out. I can't guarantee that we would continue to drive on that one play on our sideline (Tyrone Tracy Jr.'s overturned catch), but I felt like we had momentum going. But in general, we're seeing better execution. A lot of it has to do with what goes on up front. Those guys played their best Saturday relative to the other two games."
On Tracy's workload
Iowa's top receiver has had a slow start to 2021, with just nine catches for 70 yards through three games. But he hauled in five grabs for 43 yards against Kent State.
"It's something for us to be mindful of sometimes," Ferentz said. "You can't always control that. But he's a really good football player and a great young guy. He knows what to do with the ball in his hands. My biggest fear is sometimes I feel like we're trying to do too much with one play. Just let it play out.
"It's kind of like defense; you get turnovers just by playing good defense and being aggressive. And then the ball will come to you when it comes. Same way that way. But yeah, we want to keep Tyrone involved, whether it's throwing or handing it to him, whatever. Really good football player."
On development of Iowa's young defensive line
"Nobody really cares if we're young at this spot or that spot," Ferentz said. "Because ultimately when you play the games, it's about getting the job done that day. Going into this season, that was probably my biggest concern: the amount of guys we had who hadn't really been through a lot. We're hardly there yet, but we're at least making progress. Held up in some tough circumstances and situations.
"It gives you encouragement, certainly. And then you see guys doing things with a little bit more confidence now. We've still only played one road game, and there are a lot of things in front of us that we haven't done or been faced with. But our guys at least have some evidence now that, 'Hey, maybe I can do this and do it pretty well. Feel a little bit better about things than I did a month ago, certainly.'"
On Iowa's rotation at offensive line now that Kyler Schott has returned
"The good news is now we have some guys who can play," Ferentz said. "And a month ago, I wasn't sure. Two months ago, for sure (I wasn't sure). You just wondered about a lot of things. Before that point, when Kyler got hurt, two things you could figure you could count on were (Tyler) Linderbaum and Schott.
"Felt like we had a pretty good idea about how they'd respond. So we have a lot more evidence now. And if there is a blessing about somebody being out of the mix, it gives other guys opportunities to prove they can belong and do some things. We're seeing improvement in practice, which makes me feel better."
On the injury front
Although Schott returned against Kent State, it was a push on the injury front. Reserve defensive end Ethan Hurkett "will miss some time" after the former Cedar Rapids Xavier standout exited early in the fourth quarter with a right-knee injury. Hurkett had been making progress as a rotational defensive lineman.
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.