What did you guys learn from the Orange Bowl last year?
The first few days at a bowl, things are different. But we came down here ready to play this year. The first few days are the reward. Then you get the feeling as the week progresses that its about football. Whenever you win, it makes it more enjoyable and we didn't want to go home feeling like we did last year. So we were willing to sacrifice some of the events down here to focus on football and it paid off.
Do you think Florida took you guys lightly at all?
Yeah, you could say that. We could tell that my their body language this morning. They are a good team. But we came out and played well, so all of the credit should go to us.
Did you guys work harder than normal this week?
It was not that bad. The only thing I feel right now is feeling good, so that is all that matters. That is what football is all about. In order to be great and accomplish great things, you have to make sacrifices. If you are going to walk into things and think you are going to pick up the trophy and go home, that is not how things work. If you are going to be great and do great things, you have to earn it. And we earned it this week.
Did you have any idea of the program you were walking into?
A little bit. I knew there were great people here. We didn't have a winning program at that time, but we had great people. That is what attracted me here. People like coach Ferentz and his staff, the great community…No program is bigger than the people that you have, and that is what has won us 10 ball games a year over the past two years.
Eaerlier this week when Ron Zook made comments about you as a running back did that server as motivation for your team?
That is the way it goes. I will refrain from commenting, because my mom told me that if I didn't have anything good to say, don't say it. We used it a little bit though. But like coach said, we are not a team that is about talking. I made 20 of 21 field goals this year, so that is what its about. We don't have big and flashy guys. My name is not up there on a billboard. I just go out there and kick field goals.
It was a great day and Tampa was fantastic. It was a sunny day with all of the Hawks fans out there, it was a storybook ending. Just like it was for me at the end of my high school career, it has been a fairy tale for me the last few years.
I remember the first media day I was at. I said that I just wanted to score points and help this team win.
Are you going to celebrate tonight?
I learned my lesson in San Antonio. I did a little too much partying down there. We have an 8 o'clock plane to catch, so I am going to relax.
So are you going right to work on NFL?
Yes. The 3rd and 4th I will be kicking in the bubble. I have no regrets here. Just a lot of great memories.
Has it sunk in yet that you will never wear the Iowa black and gold again?
A little bit. I have kind of come to terms with it over the last month. I have loved my time here. There is nothing I would have changed or done differently. The turnaround the program has made is what I will remember the most. You can't ask for anything better.
One thing as an athlete is you look for constant improvement, and you look for your team to improve constantly. We ended up here and that is the exponential growth all the way through.
You missed eight kicks your first year, but only eight since then. Would you have dreamed that this is how things would go?
I started to get control of the situation. When I missed those field goals the first season, I think I missed four the second season, three last year and one this year. That is all I care about is that improvement.
So you will start to work on Vanderjagt's record next year?
Yeah (laugh). That gives me something to shoot for.
It was a great win, winning how we did. We were able to get some of the backups in, some of the seniors in there.
Do they respect you now?
They have to now. Before the game, I could not tell. We came out and played today. We probably shocked them in some areas. They have to respect us now, if they didn't before.
I didn't hear too much of the trash talking. I am in a one on one battle. Receivers and DB's always go at it. Linemen, its gut on gut.
You don't seem surprised about the dominance, like you knew this was coming.
You win through preparation. We felt prepared today. No one was nervous or worried. We felt like we had a great scheme. Like I said in Iowa, we were coming down here to win. Like I said before we came down, you were going to see 100% from Iowa regardless of the outcome.
Did you learn from Orange Bowl?
Yes. We learned that we needed to stay together as a team. We hit more in pads. Our coaches did a great job of adjusting from last year to this year.
When Iowa recruited you, did you think your career would end with 21 wins over the last two years?
Well, from my first two years looking at this, it is a dream. I am living a dream right now. Because my first two years and the way we looked, I would not have told you that my last two years we would be where we are. One thing I noticed though, Beutjer's dad told us that we were going to make it happen. So I knew we were headed somewhere, but like I said, we are living a dream.
Where are you a better person for having come to Iowa?
Being humble. The fact that Iowa is so based on team. When big games come, people don't think that we are going to win. Honestly, who thought we were going to win other than Iowa fans? But we are humble and just work hard. That is what I will take away from my time in Iowa.
Will you miss the fans?
Oh yeah. I am going to miss it all. I am running on emotion right now. It is going to feel weird when I travel back home and I am finished at Iowa, but Iowa will never leave my heart. This is a phase of my life that is coming to a close and I am looking forward to what is next.
We established the run and they had to commit eight or nine guys to stop Fred and Jermelle. Sometimes, even with that many guys, Fred still made things happen. That makes play action work.
When they sniffed our the ball fake on your first waggle play, were you spooked at all?
That was a pure naked and no one was there to block him. So we made some adjustments and put a body on him. From there on, we didn't have any more problems.
They came a lot off the edges, a few CB blitzes…did you see them?
I always have a decision to make when people blitz. I have to decide whether or not the play we have can avoid making him a part of it, or if I should check away. I checked away a couple of times, but also there was one that I completed to Mo on the sideline where I felt he would bit on the play action and I could hit Mo and he could not get to me. It was close but I got the ball out to Mo and he made the catch. But we knew coming in to expect the corner blitz. That goes right to our coaches. They only showed that four times this season and we were ready for it. When coaches break down film that well, it makes us ready for it going into a game. It gives you a lot of confidence.
Do you think they respected you guys?
We came into this game with a different focus. Florida is a young team and they will probably learn from this, because they are going to be great over the next couple of years. Our team needed to win this game. We wanted to enjoy Tampa, but we came in with a focus. We wanted to leave here with a good feeling. We knew that if we won, we had tonight to enjoy Tampa. We can enjoy this win for the rest of our lives.
Are you going to give the NFL a try?
I am going to wait and see what opportunities are out there. I love to play football, I feel like I have a great understanding of the game. If I can use that and see what opportunities are there, I will give it a shot.
Did you talk to Chris Leak after the game?
I just saw him in passing. He is in a tough spot right now I bet, in looking at what Iowa has been able to accomplish the last two years. Hopefully this is a program that will continue to stay at a high level, and from all indications, I think that is what will happen.
There were not many people picking you to win this game. Does that make it more gratifying?
We are used to that. You would think that people would learn their lesson there. For two years in a row, no one expected us to do anything. They need to learn not to doubt the Hawks.
There were some Iowa fans that got on you this year. Is this win gratifying from a personal standpoint?
There are a lot of Iowa fans out there, and you might pick and choose which ones you listen to. For the most part, the people that I ran into were very supportive and just love the Hawks. Those people are fun to play for. They root for Iowa each and every game. During this game, we saw that a lot of the Florida fans had left quick. That is not the character of the Hawkeye fans. It is a great community to be a part of.
How do you want to be remembered.
I just want people to remember this team as a tough team. I would like to be the quarterback t hat epitomized that. I slid for the first time today, but that was not normally the case. We felt that we might not always have the most talent as we were injured a lot this year, but we always felt like that if we could be the toughest team, we would have a chance in every game. That is what we were able to prove this year.
I think this program has established that when you play as a team in all phases, you can have success.