“I was born right across the street," joked the defensive lineman. Ivie, who was born at Tampa General, will return to the city to play his last game as a Gator.
“I think it’s great, I mean I’ve got family all around that area. It’s a heck of an opportunity. Especially to play in this stadium, growing up a Bucs fan and everything," Ivie added. "Being close to home and the opportunity for your family to come see you. And it’s just exciting to be able to come home and play.”
Although it will be his last game for Florida, Ivie is just focused on what he can do in the moment and not what will happen once that clock counts down to zero on Jan. 2.
“Just focusing on what we can do now, trying to get better every day," he said. "Focusing on the now, taking every day as it comes. You definitely have to adapt from the loss and do your best to keep pushing forward. We’re out here trying to get better and taking advantage of these next couple of practices coming up.”
UF's ending to the regular season this season is eerily similar to last year's finish. The Gators have lost the last two games to both Florida State and Alabama, just like season, however, they do not want history to repeat itself in the bowl game and ending with another three-game skid. According to Ivie, he sees a big change on how the team is approaching this bowl game compared to how they approached last season's Citrus Bowl.
"The preparation," he said. "Obviously a lot of people who played last year are going to know what it takes to get a win, and that we’ve got to do a little more than we did last year, and we’ve got to focus a little harder than we did last year.
"We can’t let loose because we didn’t make it to the playoffs, or we didn’t win an SEC Championship. You can’t let that affect the bowl game, you know. And that’s how I feel about it. You can’t let the past affect the now. You just got to worry about today and tomorrow and the next day. And so we get to the bowl game, we’re well prepared and we can play a great fundamentally sound game.”
The Gators lost to the Wolverines 41-7 in last year's Citrus Bowl, and Ivie believes this defense has something to prove.
"I believe last year we just let it go because a lot of guys were either worried about the next level, or they were worried about not getting hurt, or they were worried about the past..we can’t do that this year," he said. "We’ve got to stay focused, we can’t worry about the last game, we got to focus on the now. And like I said, we’ve got to move to the next game and not worry about the past.”
Ivie admits, a win against the Hawkeyes in January can do wonders once spring practice kicks off once again a few months later.
“It can set the momentum big-time. Especially for the guys who are coming back. It’s hard to come out on a loss," said Ivie. "When you come out on a win, I feel like it’s really good going into Spring. A lot of times in the bowl game you get to see a lot of the younger guys play, so coming into spring a lot of guys will be like ‘Wow we really do have a team this year, we really can do something again’. So it’s that confidence and that motivation for them to continue to work and continue to get better.”