Dec. 26, 2003
Make no mistake. To many, the Outback Bowl is as predictable as it comes: The lumbering giants from the great white North, a.k.a. “The Big Ten team,” versus the lean and mean, slender and quick cats from the Southeastern Conference.
“Sure. They’re pretty much what you’d expect. Well-coached…talented…quick,” said UI Coach Kirk Ferentz Friday at the University of Iowa’s 2004 Outback Bowl media day when asked about the Hawkeyes’ opponent, the Florida Gators.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s not like we haven’t played well-coached, talented and quick teams. Michigan comes to mind,” added Iowa’s well-spoken field general.
Iowa and Florida will meet for only the second time in the 2004 Outback Bowl. Kickoff is set for shortly after 10 a.m. Iowa time from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The game will be televised live by ESPN.
Ferentz said he likes where the Hawkeyes stand six days prior to kick. Practices have gone well and the team hasn’t been healthier than what it is in Tampa. And, while the adjustments to the team’s bowl preparation plan that were made after last year’s performance in the 2003 FedEx Orange Bowl won’t bear fruit or at least be up for review until later this week, Ferentz likes what he sees so far.
“We had a couple good days before coming down and we had another good one today,” said Ferentz.
“What is it…Friday? Yesterday was kind of a bonus day. So was today in terms of a regular game week. We worked a little on the game plan and things that we really couldn’t do much of back home like passing down field,” he added.
“It’s not all about winning and losing,” Ferentz continued. “It’s also about putting on a good performance. We didn’t do that last year. You want to do your best and we didn’t. I think we’re off to a solid start. We’ll see,” Ferentz said.
Ferentz said Iowa’s second visit to the Sunshine State in two years could provide a boost to recruiting in what has proven to be a fertile area for the Hawkeyes “Florida has been good to us from that perspective and being here again certainly can’t hurt,” he said.
Florida might have been too good, in fact, for some members of the team who remained nameless but we’re off in the distance during the post-practice press gathering doing a little extra work.
“Yeah, we had a couple guys get in a little later than they should have. Who knows, maybe there were more. These just happened to be the ones that got caught,” Ferentz joked.
“Sure. They’re pretty much what you’d expect. Well-coached…talented…quick. It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s not like we haven’t played well-coached, talented and quick teams. Michigan comes to mind.”
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz
“In a little later than we’d like, nothing more and nothing serious,” he added, noting that the plan isn’t significantly different than in previous years when it comes to curfews and things of that ilk.
“We’ll give them a little rope early in our stay. They’ve earned it. Then, as we get a little deeper into game week, we’ll start pulling it in,” Ferentz explained.
Ferentz said that the squad hasn’t been this healthy from the top of the roster to the bottom since late summer. However, there was a little scare during practice on Friday when all-Big Ten safety Bob Sanders was carried off the field.
“He dehydrated. We couldn’t keep enough fluids in him,” Ferentz said. “We were joking a little bit with the younger guys. We thought maybe they could help Bob get through it.”
Ferentz’s humor might get lost on those who don’t follow the Iowa football program too closely. Those in the know, know that Sanders has played through pain for much of the 2003 season.
“He’ll be fine. It’s going to take a little more than that to keep Bob off the field. There’s no questioning Bob. He’s a tough and as solid as they come,” Ferentz said of his star senior and team leader.
Ferentz said he wasn’t overly concerned about dehydration and other weather-related ills. “Yesterday was ideal. A little cooler with some clouds. Today was a little warm, but nothing to really worry about. We’re getting acclimated and we’ll be fine,” he said.
In addition to their second team practice, Iowa’s Friday in Tampa included dinner at the Tampa Convention Center compliments of Outback Steakhouse, the title sponsor of the 2004 Outback Bowl.
Coming soon to hawkeyesports.com…
– Running back Fred Russell looks back and looks forward.
– Quarterback Drew Tate talks about his versions of “Next Man In”