Men in Middle Zero in on Tech

Dec. 28, 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following first appeared in the Dec. 27 edition of the University of Iowa’s Official Sports Report, a free daily e-newsletter. For more information about the UI’s OSR, click HERE.

MIAMI — Two University of Iowa starters from different sides of the football agreed that December practices in “The Bubble” went well. Now that they have arrived in south Florida, there will be a switch from staying in shape, to zeroing in on the Ramblin’ Wreck of Georgia Tech.

Hawkeye linebacker Pat Angerer and center Rafael Eubanks will participate in their first pre-FedEx Orange Bowl practice today at 12:45 p.m. (Iowa time). Iowa is scheduled to practice six times at Barry University in Miami Shores.

Angerer said that after dissecting plenty of game film, both teams are familiar with each other.

“Georgia Tech knows what we’re going to do and we know what they’re going to do,” Angerer said. “It’s going to be tough and the best team’s going to win. It’s definitely the most unique offense we’ve faced all year. The key to this is having a great scout team and our scout team has done a good job all year. They’re doing great for this game, too.”

The Yellow Jackets are 11th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in points per game (35.31). Angerer and the UI defense are 10th in scoring defense (15.5).

Eubanks referred to Iowa’s 10-2 regular season as special. Now that the temperatures are rising, so, too, must the focus level for the Hawkeyes.

“Yes, you’re in a bowl game and it’s fun,” Eubanks said. “You’re in a fun destination, but you still have a mission and that’s to win a football game. It’s crucial that everybody stays on key.”

Last season Angerer and Eubanks were members of the Outback Bowl championship unit that disposed of Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina, 31-10. This season the Hawkeyes are one of 10 teams to receive a bid to a Bowl Championship Series event.

“It means a lot,” Angerer said. “The coaches deserve it. They put a lot of work into this and hopefully we can go out there and put on a good show. The last time we went down there, it didn’t turn out too well.”

Angerer was referring to the 2003 FedEx Orange Bowl, when the Hawkeyes grabbed leads of 7-0 and 10-7 before Southern California scored 31 straight points to post a 38-17 triumph.

“This is real special,” Eubanks said. “You couldn’t ask for the season to go any better. We have a chance to play in a great venue against a great opponent. It’s very exciting.”

It will be the final collegiate game for Angerer and Eubanks, both seniors. Angerer, from Bettendorf, Iowa, was named first team all-Big Ten Conference and a permanent team captain. Eubanks, from St. Paul, Minn., was named second team all-Big Ten by league coaches.

This is the second year in a row that Angerer has led the Hawkeyes in tackles (107 as a junior, 135 so far this season). Last season Eubanks helped open holes for Doak Walker Award-winner Shonn Greene and a UI ground game that averaged 188.7 yards per game. In 2009, two freshmen running backs have gained more than 500 yards (Adam Robinson, 775; Brandon Wegher, 528), and the Hawkeyes have thrown for more than 221 yards per game.

Iowa and Georgia Tech will clash in eight days (Jan. 5) inside Land Shark Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. (Iowa time).