Dec. 11, 2009
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Travel with the Hawkeyes
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Rafael Eubanks has been watching two things very closely the past five days: Game tape of an athletic Georgia Tech defense and weather conditions in Miami.
Eubanks, a senior center, and the No. 10 University of Iowa football team (10-2 overall), will play the ninth-rated Yellow Jackets (11-2) on Jan. 5 in the FedEx Orange Bowl in Land Shark Stadium in Miami.
“Defensively, they’re a very athletic group,” said Eubanks, following Friday evening’s practice in The Bubble. “Up front they have a lot of quick, speedy guys who like to move a lot and make plays. (Derrick Morgan) at defensive end was right up there in sacks this year. He’s a great player.”
Morgan, the Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year, was named second team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. He had 18 tackles for loss this season, including 12 ½ quarterback sacks.
“It gives us an advantage now that we know who we’re playing,” Eubanks said. “As much tape as you can get in — you pick up on little things. You can get tendencies that their guys have. Whatever you can put in your arsenal to play a better game, you do it.”
In 10 of 13 games this season, the Yellow Jackets allowed 17 or more points. During practice, Eubanks faces a Hawkeye defense that ranks 10th in the nation in fewest points allowed (15.5) and 11th in total defense (286.67 yards per game).
“It’s nice to get back out there, get moving again and get the sweat going,” Eubanks said. “Guys have been humming out there — it’s been physical. Any time going against our defense…it’s a tough, physical battle, so it’s good to get back out there.”
Eubanks, from St. Paul, Minn., was named second-team all-Big Ten Conference by both the coaches and media. He helped the Iowa offense average 330.8 yards per game, with more that 221 of those coming through the air.
When Eubanks finished practice Friday, the temperature outside the Hayden Fry Football Complex was 10 degrees (Fahrenheit). At the same moment in Miami, it was 82 degrees.
“I check Miami’s weather every day,” Eubanks said. “Yesterday was a balmy 89 degrees out there. I’m just excited for the opportunity to play Georgia Tech in a venue down in Miami.”