Here's what Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said in his press conference before the Northwestern game

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY — Iowa football desperately needs some positive vibes.

Following two straight ugly losses, the No. 19 Hawkeyes (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten Conference) travel to Northwestern (3-5, 1-4) for Saturday's 6 p.m. showdown on Big Ten Network. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz met with the media Tuesday to discuss the matchup and the Hawkeyes' recent stumbles.

On Iowa's secondary injuries. 

Sounds like cornerbacks Riley Moss (knee) and Terry Roberts (bone bruise) will be out again Saturday, after both missed the Wisconsin game (Moss missed Purdue too). Ferentz said each is doubtful for the Northwestern game. 

That means more of Jermari Harris.

"(The Wisconsin game) was a good start for Jermari," Ferentz said. "He had to go in there and play, and no question, they were going to go in there and check him out. Why wouldn't you? He's our fourth corner, and that's really how it came out of camp. That's where we're at right now. I think he did a good job. You always worry about the new guy, a little too anxious or too jumpy out there. But I think he handled the situation pretty well. Looks like he playing again this weekend too, so it'll be another big test for him." 

Additionally, backup running back Ivory Kelly-Martin has a foot issue and won't play Saturday either.  

More:Leistikow's thoughts: Northwestern matchup gives Iowa football's lagging run game a crease of hope

On increasing Tyrone Tracy's involvement.

Tracy entered this year as Iowa's clear-cut top wide receiver, yet Tracy has only 13 catches for 89 yards through eight games. He has as many rushing TDs as receiving TDs.   

"That's a question we're trying to ask and answer in some ways," Ferentz said. "He's got plays on film that have been documented, and certainly if we can get him more involved, that'd be a good thing. But it's easier said than done. We're trying to probe every option there might be to try to get the thing moving more." 

On using struggles as motivation.

"When things don't go well, you can surrender and feel sorry for yourself and all those types of things. Or you can try to use it as motivation and focus on improvement," Ferentz said. "That's really what the game is all about certainly. 

"... It's a long season, and really what we need to do is maximize this seven-day block. And then just keep pushing forward. We're going to have a tough challenge next week too. The next four games are going to be like that. That's really what we have to focus on, what can we do right now with this opportunity?" 

More:What channel is Iowa football vs. Northwestern? How to watch and stream Hawkeyes' Big Ten game

On making big changes in-season. 

"You can't change your system wholesale in season," Ferentz said. "That'd be really counterproductive, and you can't go out and get mercenary players either. That's not part of the deal in college football. So you just try to forge ahead, and I guess if there's any good thing here, we certainly have plenty of experience.

"You go back and look historically at a lot of our seasons. Can't think of many that didn't have bumps and adversity along the way. Really, all you have to do is look at the last three years. Three years ago, we lost three in a row. We lost two in a row the last two years, and I think everyone was happy at the end of those seasons. At least internally, we all felt pretty good about our team and the way we did things. That's the great thing about sports, and really about life too ... It's all about how you handle the bumps. What are you going to do when they do come?"    

More:Leistikow's DVR Monday: What can be learned from Iowa football's very bad Saturday in Madison?

On tough times testing mental toughness.

"These are moments where you really figure out where you're at on that," Ferentz said. "And then the teams that fight through it, they usually have good leadership. They're getting good leadership from within. And then it takes maturity as well. That's tied in with mental toughness. We can't be fans. We can't ride the wave. We can't be up and down. We have to stay focused on what it is we're trying to accomplish. And it's easier said than done because each and every one of us are human. We've all got feelings and emotions.

"I promise you, no one felt good. That was a hard bus ride home (from Wisconsin). And we've had a few of those over the years, but if you go out and compete, that's part of the challenge and the risk. How do you bounce back from that?" 

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard. 

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz looks on from the sidelines during the first quarter against Wisconsin on Saturday in Madison.