Dec. 27, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
LOS ANGELES — Fans might tire of hearing tales of players and coaches being resilient. They know all about the University of Iowa’s mantra of “Next Man In.” Countless times they have been told to take the season one game at a time.
Hawkeye offensive coordinator Greg Davis reminded media Sunday that even though those clichés have been repeated many times within the UI program, that shouldn’t discredit their validity.
“I know it gets old talking about it, but when you have really good teams, that’s what they do,” Davis said during a news conference at The LA Hotel Downtown. “That has been gratifying to see this team come together.”
Joining Davis at the news conference were senior tight end Henry Krieger-Coble, senior right guard Jordan Walsh, junior quarterback C.J. Beathard, junior running back LeShun Daniels, Jr., and junior wide receiver Matt VandeBerg.
No. 5 Iowa (12-1 overall) faces No. 6 Stanford (11-2) in the 102nd Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, California. The Hawkeyes got here by winning six games by nine points or less and three game by five points or less.
“Part of finishing (games) can be attributed to our offseason program and our strength and conditioning,” Davis said. “(Strength and conditioning coach) Chris Doyle and his staff do a tremendous job. It’s easy to mentally want to finish, but if your body won’t allow you to do that, you don’t finish.”
“Situational opportunities” is another vital ingredient that helped Iowa thrive late in games to either slam the door on an opponent or emerge with a win. While every other college football coach works on late-game circumstances, Davis has never seen it emphasized like it is under UI head coach Kirk Ferentz.
“One thing that you notice when you start looking at Stanford is the number of linebackers, number of athletes that they have. Because they play a bunch of linebackers, they’re able to create both the three-down and a four-down front. Your team has to be in tune to what kind of structure you’re seeing.”
UI offensive coordinator
“A lot of times we don’t know what that is going to be,” Davis said. “We think practice is over and (Ferentz) will say ‘OK, here it is. The ball is on the 13 (yard line), you have 20 seconds, and it takes a touchdown to win.’ Both sides of the ball have to immediately go out there.”
During its historic 12-0 regular season, Iowa posted victories of nine points over Illinois (29-20), eight at Indiana (35-27) and at Nebraska (28-20), five against Minnesota (40-35), four at Wisconsin (10-6), and three against Pittsburgh (27-24).
Because of its 3-4 alignment, Davis says Stanford’s defense is similar to what the Hawkeyes saw at Wisconsin in the Big Ten Conference opener on Oct. 3. In that game, Iowa gained 221 yards, a season low despite rushing 40 times for 144 yards.
“One thing that you notice when you start looking at Stanford is the number of linebackers, number of athletes that they have,” Davis said. “Because they play a bunch of linebackers, they’re able to create both the three-down and a four-down front. Your team has to be in tune to what kind of structure you’re seeing.”
In other words, you better have an intelligent and capable quarterback…or else. Enter Beathard, who in his first full season as a starter has completed 62 percent of his passes for nearly 200 yards a game and 15 touchdowns.
“Your quarterback has to be in tune to what’s happening and he has to be a very bright guy,” Davis said. “C.J. has shown during the course of the year that he can handle that. As the year has gone on, we’ve given him more and more things that he can do at the line of scrimmage.”
The Hawkeyes return to the StubHub Center for their third practice in California on Sunday at 12:40 p.m. (PT). They will enjoy dinner at Lawry’s Beef Bowl on Sunday from 4:30-6 p.m. (PT).
The Rose Bowl Game will be played Friday beginning at 4:10 p.m. (CT). It will be televised by ESPN.