Dec. 28, 2008
- Greene and the Iowa Hawkeyes
- Outback Bowl Central
- Iowa and the Big Ten Network
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
- Iowa Football wallpaper
- Coach conference, practice video | Coach conference, practice photos
- Busch Gardens Team Outing video | Busch Gardens photos
TAMPA, Fla. — When asked what Southeastern Conference football team the University of Iowa reminded him of, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier reached deep into his pocket of compliments and settled on Alabama.
“I guess you could say maybe Alabama plays a little bit like Iowa,” Spurrier said at an Outback Bowl media conference Sunday at the Quroum Hotel. “Alabama’s a run-the-ball, throw-the-ball combination team. Obviously Iowa runs the ball as good as anybody in the country. We’ll certainly be tested trying to stop Shonn Greene.”
Alabama might also be a `run-the-ball, throw-the-ball’ team, which just happened to go undefeated in eight regular-season SEC games and takes a 12-1 record into the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2. UI head coach Kirk Ferentz would have appreciated the flattery a bit more if the Gamecocks and Crimson Tide had played this season.
“Steve says we’re a little bit like Alabama — we’re certainly not as good as Alabama,” Ferentz said. “Maybe a little bit like them, which is nice, except they didn’t play Alabama, so we don’t know how they would defend them. We’ve played a lot of fantasy football this month. At the end of the day, they’re going to have 11 guys out there and a few of them are going to be close to the ball, I predict that, and we’ll have to make some plays in all areas of the game to have a chance to move the ball.”
On paper, there are probably more similarities between South Carolina and Iowa than between any of the other teams in the SEC or Big Ten. Both were 6-6 overall last season (with both narrowly missing a bowl game) and both used two quarterbacks a significant amount during the 2008 season. The Hawkeyes (8-4 overall, 5-3 Big Ten) play South Carolina (7-5, 4-4 SEC) on Thursday, Jan. 1, with a 10 a.m. (Iowa time) kickoff from Raymond James Stadium.
Ferentz and Spurrier met with the media for more than 30 minutes Sunday with Ferentz again echoing his appreciation for being in a fifth January bowl game in seven seasons as well as being in a climate with sun and 80 degree temperatures.
“Steve says we’re a little bit like Alabama — we’re certainly not as good as Alabama…maybe a little bit like them, which is nice, except they didn’t play Alabama, so we don’t know how they would defend them. We’ve played a lot of fantasy football this month. At the end of the day, they’re going to have 11 guys out there and a few of them are going to be close to the ball, I predict that, and we’ll have to make some plays in all areas of the game to have a chance to move the ball.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz
“We probably have more to be grateful for than maybe Steve and the Gamecocks with our weather in the Midwest,” Ferentz said. “It’s been tough since Thanksgiving. It’s great to get outdoors, great to feel the warm sun — we’ve had cold sun, but warm sun is great.”
Ferentz was asked by a member of the South Carolina media why the Hawkeyes arrived in Tampa on Dec. 24.
“Have you ever lived in the Midwest or Iowa,” Ferentz asked. “I’ve lived in Cleveland, Orono, Maine, Iowa City, Iowa, and I had a trip to exotic Baltimore — that was the nicest climate I ever lived in. We’ve been indoors and we haven’t been in warm sun now in months, so this is a chance to get outdoors, throw the ball around a little bit down the field. It’s tough to do that inside. Just to practice outdoors — we’ve been playing basketball for the last month practicing inside. I hate being inside.”
When it came to analyzing the Gamecocks, Ferentz praised their offense that was third in the SEC in passing offense and seventh in total offense.
“It’s no big surprise the passing game is strong and very effective,” he said. “They have a great corps of receivers, the tight ends are excellent in the passing game and they’ve played a couple quarterbacks and that adds a little bit of intrigue to the preparation.”
Spurrier said that freshman Tampa-native Stephen Garcia will get the nod over sophomore Chris Smelley, who started nine times this season and Tommy Beecher, who started once. Garcia completed 53.8-percent of his passes for 753 yards and six touchdowns (107.6 yards per game). Smelley completed 65.5-percent of his passes for 1,743 yards and 13 touchdowns (158.5 yards per game). Smelley threw 15 interceptions.
South Carolina led the SEC in pass defense and was fourth in total defense. Ferentz expects to see multiple sets and he said the Gamecocks play well against both the run and the pass.
“We anticipate they’re going to try to stop the run,” Ferentz said. “That’s usually where defense starts and they’ve done a good job of that all season.
A more specific challenge for South Carolina will be stopping Greene, who has rushed for 1,729 yards and 17 touchdowns this season before winning the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back.
The Gamecocks also led the SEC in kickoff coverage and they were fourth in kickoff returns (23.2 yards on 42 returns).
“They’re doing a lot of things great on special teams, too,” Ferentz said. “They have a lot of players that play hard and play well. They’re well-coached and it’s going to be a tough game for us, we know that.”
Ferentz says the Hawkeye focus has been `OK.’
“Kirk’s longevity? I guess he’s been winning pretty well. He hasn’t had a need to make a change and he does things the right way and that’s why you stay somewhere a long time. Stay competitive.”
South Carolina head coach
“We’re hardly coming off a championship season, but it was a good season,” Ferentz said. “The focus and determination is probably a little more even keel than it was in 2002 (that ended with a 38-17 loss to Southern California in the 2003 Orange Bowl). It is one of those things you live through and learn from.”
Spurrier spent some time talking about his coaching career that took him from the USFL to Duke, to Florida, to the NFL and now at South Carolina. Then he was asked about Ferentz spending the last 10 seasons at Iowa.
“Kirk’s longevity,” he repeated. “I guess he’s been winning pretty well. He hasn’t had a need to make a change and he does things the right way and that’s why you stay somewhere a long time. Stay competitive.”
Iowa will enjoy the DeBartolo Team Luncheon tomorrow from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., practice from 3:45-5 and spent the evening at Gameworks in Ybor.
Fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes who live in the Heartland or in the Sunshine State or in all points between should note that the UI Athletics Ticket Office is accepting ticket orders for the 2009 Outback Bowl. Click here to purchase your tickets online. Fans can also purchase over the phone by calling 1-800 IA-HAWKS or over-the-counter at the UI Athletics Ticket Office in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Those who need to purchase tickets to the 2009 Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day or to pick up tickets they have already purchased from the UI Athletics Department can do so at the UI’s Outback Bowl Ticket Office.
The Outback Bowl Ticket Office is located in room 1423 of the Hyatt Regency Tampa at 211 North Tampa Street. Fans can reach the office by telephone at (813) 225-1234. When the call is completed, please ask to be connected to room 1423.
The office will be open daily. On game day, the office will move to Gate D1 at the south end of Raymond James Stadium. Fans picking up tickets on game day are advised to arrive early — the office will open at 9 a.m. — and have a photo ID available.