powered by the Iowa City Press-Citizen & The Des Moines Register
Subscribe via RSS Feed

Harty: Ferentz defends keeping A-Rob in MSU game

[ 8 ] November 9, 2010 |

Don’t be fooled by Kirk Ferentz’s humble nature or his self-deprecating view of things.

Iowa’s head football coach has an ego just like anybody else.

Even though he may not admit it, Ferentz doesn’t like to be second-guessed or criticized by fans or members of the media, which has been happening since sophomore running back Adam Robinson sustained a concussion Oct. 30 against Michigan State at Kinnick Stadium.

Robinson suffered the injury early in the fourth quarter when Iowa was nursing a 37-6 lead. Ferentz is being blamed for not pulling Iowa’s leading rusher from the game sooner.

Robinson missed Saturday’s 18-13 victory at Indiana but has since been cleared to play against Northwestern this coming Saturday.

The debate goes on, though.

Should Robinson still have been playing in a game when Iowa’s lead seemed insurmountable and when you consider the lack of proven depth at running back?

Ferentz was asked Tuesday to explain his decision.

“The fourth quarter had just started,” Ferentz said. “And we had a lot of starters in the game on both sides of the ball.

“I wouldn’t change it. We’re trying to win the football game.”

Ferentz wasn’t rude or confrontational while explaining his decision publicly for the first time because he knows that being second-guessed goes with the territory.

But you could tell that he seemed annoyed by the line of questions and feels that he is a victim of hindsight, which he is.

“Anybody can get a concussion at any time playing football,” Ferentz said. “If I’ve got to start worrying about all that stuff, we’re afraid to come out of the building.

“If I had known that he was going to get a concussion, hell, yeah, I would have taken him out the play before. If you want to know when I would have taken him out? The play before he gets hurt.”

There are definitely two sides to this debate because it was risky to leave Robinson in the game for so long. Even more so with fellow running back Jewel Hampton out for the season with an injury and with former running back Brandon Wegher out of the picture for the foreseeable future.

But on the other hand, Michigan State was loading the box with eight and nine defenders in the second half after it became apparent that Iowa’s strategy was to use its running game to burn the clock. Iowa only attempted five passes in the second half.

And with Robinson being Iowa’s most experienced and dependable running back, Ferentz apparently wanted him in there until he felt absolutely certain that Michigan State was toast.

Part of being a head coach is being paranoid. What seems like an insurmountable lead to fans and reporters might seem different to a head coach.

Ferentz always will lean on the side of caution, but this time it backfired on him.

It would’ve looked worse if Ferentz had kept Robinson in the game beyond the midway point of the fourth quarter and then the injury occurred. But we’ll never know if that was the plan or not.

Another thing to consider is that perhaps Ferentz felt uneasy with having true freshman Marcus Coker spend an entire quarter running against a stacked and angry defense that has a reputation for being extremely physical.

The Michigan State players were in a nasty mood by the fourth quarter, and who better to take out you frustration than a true freshman running back.

Somewhat lost in the jubilation of pounding Michigan State is that Coker only averaged 2.5 yards per carry on his 16 attempts.

Coker still was mostly unproven when Iowa faced the Spartans. But that no longer is the case with him having rushed for 129 yards against Indiana on Saturday.

Coker has earned the trust of the Iowa coaches, so you can expect to see him in the game sooner under the same circumstance.

But you’ll never get Ferentz to admit that he made a mistake, because he doesn’t think he did.

Football is a violent and risky sport, and Ferentz was trying to win the game.

There is no right or wrong in this case, although Ferentz and those who second-guessed his decision probably would disagree.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

Comments closed