The Auburn senior and his teammates are looking for a second straight win over the Florida Gators, something no SEC team has been able to accomplish since the Tigers took back-to-back victories in 1993 at Florida Field and 1994 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"We need to hold onto the ball," Nowland says. "We need to keep the pressure off the quarterback. We kind of played soft on Saturday. We need to not jump offsides--little things that stalled out the drives and put us in bad situations like first and 15 and first and 20."
Going into last year's game, few gave the unranked Tigers much chance of knocking off the Gators, who were No. 1 nationally with an unbeaten team led by Heisman Trophy candidate Rex Grossman and the inspired play calling of head coach and offensive coordinator Steve Spurrier. The old ball coach has packed his playbooks and headed to the nation's capital for the NFL leaving behind a Gator team that is a surprising 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the SEC after getting beaten 36-7 by LSU last Saturday night in Gainesville. If reports from Gainesville are correct, it is not certain that Grossman will be healthy enough to play in the rematch
Auburn's 2001 victory over the Gators was anything but one-sided. The Tigers used a Damon Duval field goal in the final seconds to take a 23-20 victory after quarterback Daniel Cobb led a late drive to put the kicker in field goal range. "It was a big win, the biggest win I have been a part of," says Nowland, a native of Ponte Vedra, Fla. "It was just a great experience."
One of the strengths of the 2002 Florida team is its defensive front. Nowland has watched video of the Gators and is impressed with 6-2, 290 senior Bryan Savelio and 6-3, 307 junior Ian Scott. Nowland says, "Scott is back and he is a load, a big kid, a hard worker, a heck of an athlete. We have our work cut out for us with their front."
Nowland says he is looking forward to having a chance to finish his college career with a victory over the home state team. "This is also the last year that Auburn plays them for a while, too," he says. "It will be nice to go down there and play in The Swamp and hopefully get the big W."