Travel and Preparations

Dec. 22, 2005

The Bowl Game

More About Iowa Football

When Coach Kirk Ferentz gave his final Iowa City-based pre-bowl press conference Wednesday, the temperature was barely breaking a sultry 20 degrees.

Ferentz and the 25th-ranked Hawkeyes will exchange a high temperature of 40 degrees, for a low temperature of 40 degrees on Saturday when they travel to Tampa, FL, for 2006 Outback Bowl game preparations.

But before the team can take on No. 16 Florida on Jan. 2, the coach has got to weigh through vast amounts of information and create a game plan – a task that began early this week.

“You’re always trying to project,” he said. “With bowl games, sometimes you have too much information. You have to pick and choose what you think might be applicable. That’s always one of the challenges.”

But the matchup is a replay of the 2004 Outback Bowl, when the Hawkeyes downed Florida 37-17. That’s got to be of some help, right?

“To me, that game is ancient history,” Ferentz said. “I think they probably underestimated us a little bit two years ago. You look at the way they’re playing football right now, and I’m not saying they’re the same, but they’re playing very much like (Louisiana State) does.

“They’re very athletic, they’re very well coached, and they play hard.”

Ferentz said that Iowa will have to “get accustomed to some things” it hasn’t seen before, saying the Gators don’t look like many teams the Hawkeyes faced during the regular season.

“We’re fortunate it’s not a three-day preparation,” he said. “They have a million different formation groups, motions, and a million different schemes. They’re very, very multiple, game to game and even within a game.”

What about the Gator defense?

“They’re totally different.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is Chris Leak, Florida’s quarterback, who threw for 268 yards on 22-of-41 passing and two touchdowns in the 2004 Outback Bowl.

He’s completed 63 percent of his passes this year, 18 for touchdowns.

“I think the biggest thing is like Drew (Tate),” Ferentz said of Leak, “the experience factor is always helpful. He had to go through a transition, but he seems to be playing very comfortably now. He’s very adept and a talented quarterback.”

Leak and Iowa quarterback Drew Tate both vied for the same role on the Iowa team. As recruits, they both visited Iowa City at the same time during the 2002 season. Leak chose Florida, Tate chose Iowa, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ferentz says Florida’s option attack is unlike anything Iowa has faced. Leak rushed 12 times for 67 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-42 win over Vanderbilt, all while going 32 of 41 for 257 yards and three more scores in the air in the same game.

He ran the ball seven times for 20 yards in the regular-season finale against Florida State, a 34-7 win.

“I don’t know if we’ve faced anybody who’s run the same option packages they run,” Ferentz said. “(Leak) was pretty confident as a first-year player. And now you have that experience working for you.

Offensively, it starts there.”

Even though the opponent is considerably different – even with a new coach at the helm in Urban Meyer – Ferentz says it is nice to go back to a bowl with past success.

“It looked like it was the Outback or the Alamo, so either way it would be win-win,” he said. “They’re both great venues. To me, familiarity is a good thing. We know the routine. In athletics, routines are always a good thing.”

Barry Pump,