Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

Johnson ready for the big and physical Hawkeyes

The Florida Gators (8-4) face off against the Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4) in the Outback Bowl on January 2, and the defense has a heck of a challenge in terms of the physical play of the Hawkeyes. Redshirt freshman starting linebacker Kylan Johnson and the defense have embraced the challenge.

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE Iowa loves to run the ball. They line up and pound teams with two running backs, one that has eclipsed 1,000 yards in Leshun Daniels (1,1013 yards, 10 TD’s) and another in Akrum Wadley (988 yards, 10 TD’s) that will likely do so against the Gators on Monday. The offensive line is an award winning unit that plays physical and the team prides itself on playing that way.

Kylan Johnson knows what is at hand in Raymond James Stadium.

“They are definitely a physical team, we just have to be ready to play ball with them,” Johnson said Thursday following practice.

“The running backs (stand out) and that’s it. They have a pretty good offensive line too. That is one thing we have to watch out for.”

Florida will no doubt concentrate on the run when on defense, but Johnson stopped short of saying they would stack the box regularly in the contest. They have to contend with talented senior quarterback C.J. Bethard (1,874 yards, 17 TD’s) and his ability to get the ball to heir deep threats.

“I can’t really say (about stacking the box), but we have to stop the run,” Johnson said. “I see that (Bethard) is accurate, so we have to make sure coverage is tight.”

According to Johnson, the Hawkeyes unfortunately resemble a team that really took it to the gators during the regular season.

“Kind of, sort of Arkansas, because they’re big and physical,” Johnson said. “Their running backs are good too.”

The freshman has really worked hard since the SEC Championship game on technique things to improve his game. He says the heat I Tampa is something they weren’t expecting.

“It’s been a lot of learning for me, conditioning and a lot of learning for me,” Johnson said. “It’s been pretty good. Kind of easy right now. Getting used to this sun coming off of break. I have no idea why it seems hotter out here than it was in Gainesville.”

One would think that the heat would favor the Gators, but Johnson isn’t so sure of that.

“I don’t know, they’ve been out here as long as we have, so they might be used to it,” he said.

In the meantime, the Gator practices have gone quickly. The staff must be happy with the way things are transpiring on the field and aren’t having to repeat things to correct them.

“I mean we’re coming out here and getting the work done and that’s why it’s quick.”    

Johnson hopes that translates into a win on Monday.                                                                                                                                                    


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