Is being a little smaller an advantage for you?
I use my quickness to my advantage whenever I can. For as small as I am, I've got a little bit of power in me.
Jared called you the secret weapon. Do you think the secret is out now?
I hope not. I'd like to keep it under there a little bit longer. I like Jared. He tries to give me a little attention.
Did you know what you had a game like this in you?
You always have to wonder whether you can do it. Coming into this game, I had some butterflies going through my stomach last night. Last night lying in bed, I knew I had to some up big because people were expecting me to. I knew I had it in me.
How did you persevere when people were telling you that you were too small?
Because I've seen it done in lots of sports. We've got a lot of people on this team that many schools thought were too small or to this or to that. Look at Bob Sanders. He's gone out there and done great things with his little body.
How big is the difference between 9-3 and 8-4?
It's huge. And even though we stressed all week eliminating the mistakes because that's what has killed us, we came out in that first half and it was just like it was square one again. We were making way too many mistakes. But it shows a lot of the character of the older guys and the whole team and the coaching staff that we can come out in the second half and just buckled down and got it done.
What was said at halftime? Was there a big speech?
We all knew what we needed to do. We knew what mistakes were hurting us. We all knew that the momentum was shifting. We knew that we froze up the crowd. It was pretty wild in there, and we just wanted to take them out of it and play our game.
Did you guys do anything different in the second half to establish getting pressure on the quarterback?
We really didn't blitz much. Usually when they're in regular personnel and we're going with four guys, three out of the four are getting the double team. It's tough to get a rush. But we just wanted to keep pressure on them. We broke down once or twice, giving them a lane to run in. Other than that, I think we played pretty well.
Are you surprised by what Tyler Luebke has been able to do?
No. Because just like anybody else that's going to come in, he might not have had all of the scholarship offers, but he's taught the same way as everybody else. He's got heart. He wants to be out there. And he's a tough kid. You can't teach toughness and you can't teach how much a kid wants to play. He has both of those. The technique is something that you guys don't see. He's getting the same teaching as everybody else.
Do you guys have a preference for a bowl game?
We want the best bowl game we can get. Part of getting a win today was we knew it was going to help us to up our bowl. We've got a good team, and we want the best place that we can get to.
With all of the things that you guys have been through this year, are you guys pretty proud of 9-3?
Yeah. Everybody wrote us off before the year. We knew we had a good team. The thing is that there was room for us to have a better year. We kind of gave some things away in some of those losses. But that's life. We dealt with it. We went through a lot of things. The one thing that shows the character of this team is all the things that we've been through; all injuries, ailments, not starting out fast, it just says a lot about this team.
Was today the culmination of that growth?
Definitely. That first half was tough. Usually you can't do those type of things and win. But everybody believed. And we knew we had a good team. And we knew we could beat these guys. We had to keep killing ourselves with those mistakes. Lucky enough, we got some big plays. The ‘D' pulled it out at the end for us.
How much better does 9-3 sound than 8-4?
It's unbelievable. That's 20 wins in two years for us seniors. It's a mark that's never been (accomplished) at Iowa (over two years). That's a big victory for our team. Once we get home, it will kind of settle in as to what kind of run we've had the last two years. Nine wins are great with all the things that went on.
Did it feel like you had a lead at halftime even though you were losing?
I think so. It was kind of a mirror image of what happened last week. It was kind of a close ballgame. I hit a long field goal going into half. Those points are bigger than three. It plays a lot bigger role in the ballgame than just points. We got a lot of momentum.
Do you almost laugh now when coaches call timeouts?
Going into halftime, I didn't really think that it was a bad idea. Looking back on it, you kind of question the call there in the fourth quarter, that short field goal. I mean, a 27-yarder in a close ballgame. It looked to me as though they needed that timeout there on that last drive.
Did they have 12 guys on the field at that point?
I'm not sure what they were trying to do. But to me, right before the half…I've been around four years. I'll run out there and kick the ball after 20 seconds. I'll run out there and kick the ball after five minutes. It's not really going to make a whole lot of difference to me. Either I'm going to make it or I'm going to miss it. That's just their prerogative. My job is to kick it through the uprights. Fortunately, I did that today.
You played in high school with Tyler Luebke. You can't be surprised by the way he's playing, are you?
No. You just look at him, how he's built and everything. He's a great kid. I'm glad to get to play with him in big games like this, especially just knowing the kind of path he's taken to get here. It's awesome to see him out there. I'm good friends with his family and everything. It's great to see regular guys succeed. He's a heck of an athlete. He deserves it more than anybody.
How did you guys hold it together today?
I think we still had a lot of emotion coming off of that win against Minnesota. We had a high. Yeah, Nate came out and made a few errors. But we invest in Nate Chandler as the person. We all had his back. We knew that he was very capable. He came out in the second half and made some big plays. We knew if we won the turnover battle, we'd win the game.
How does 20 wins in the last two years sound to you?
If I could sit back and say that we'd go to the Orange Bowl last year and share the Big Ten title, then come back after losing everybody and all the injuries and illnesses and what have you, and go 9-3 this year. And on a personal note, be able to put together the two seasons that I had and emerge as kind of the top player at my position, I can't tell you how happy I am and how proud I am of my teammates. There are a lot of special memories, and it's great to walk out of here knowing that you don't have any regrets, which a lot of people don't get the chance to do. That's the greatest feeling you could ever have.
Does it matter where you guys go bowling?
Not really. You look at our season in its entirety and you could say, 'Yeah, we could have been undefeated.' But we exceeded expectations. We didn't have any regrets. Being in that locker room after our 12th game today, just knowing that you played up to your ability. That's what you try to do in anything in life. So, whatever bowl we go to, so be it. We did our best.