How do you think bowl preparations will change this year?
Last year, I was worried about the things that we were going to be able to do in Miami. As a starter (this year), that all kind of takes a back seat. I think with everybody on our team, those things are taking more of a back seat this year. We kind of have a bittersweet taste from last year. We want to go down and we want to accomplish more things, like coming out with a victory this year.
Are there more favorable things in Tampa than Miami?
Just in talking to the guys on the team, we feel like if we had won last year in Miami, we would have liked that trip a lot better. That's our goal going into Tampa.
Everybody talks about size versus speed when the Big Ten and the SEC meets. Do you see that?
I'm excited about this game and I jumped on the tape early. The first thing that stands out is their defensive speed. That's going to be a challenge for us. I really think that this is the best defensive backfield that we've gone up against. That's going to be a big challenge for our passing game. But we've gone up against some good defenses this year. It's probably comparable to Ohio State and Purdue, that type.
Do you see any weaknesses in their defense?
Not yet. That's why I jumped on (the tape) early. We've got a lot of time. So, we're going to try to figure a lot of that out. I'm excited to see what the coaches find when we start the game plan.
Obviously, the first thing is that you've got to be able to run the ball, right?
Yeah. That's Iowa's offense. That's what we try to establish. The passing game comes from there. It's important for us to stay balanced and to keep them off guard.
It's almost like an away game, isn't it?
Yeah. We get to spend a week there and make it our home for a week. We expect great fan support down there. It's another away game for us. We've got to go with that mentality.
You guys have kind of bucked the odds all year. Is this another chance to do that?
It's another chance for our team to come out and...it feels like a first game. The way that you have so much time to prepare for it and kind of the excitement of just getting back out there and playing again. Hopefully, we'll have everybody healthy. That will be the first time since Miami of Ohio.
There are a lot of seniors on this team. You probably want to leave with some pretty good feelings.
We've been able to accomplish a lot of things this year. Winning in January is our last goal. We're going to prepare our best. We've got a great challenge in front of us.
Is Ratliff one of the best defensive backs you've seen all year?
Yeah. And he's complemented by three other guys that play really well back there. They're all over the routes in the passing game. And they're probably as involved in the running game as anybody we've seen.
What does it mean to have Mo Brown out there even if he isn't 100 percent?
I'm trying to remember when we did have a healthy Mo Brown. We've come to grips with him being at partial health. At this point, he is as healthy as he's been since Iowa State. It's a huge asset for us. It adds another receiver to our front line there. He's a big playmaker. That's what you need in bowl games.
What are the keys for you in this game? Does the offense need to avoid turnovers? Are there certain things you're trying to focus on?
We need to make big plays. We don't need to go out after those plays. We need to wait for them to happen and take advantage when we have the opportunities. That's pretty much the way that it has been all season. This is going to be a great atmosphere. It's going to be an exciting ballgame. And it's a great team we're going against.