MVP FRED RUSSELL
The first thing that I would like to say is that if I had a vote I think that Nate (Chandler) did a real good job today. I think Nate should have been the MVP. Our offensive line did a real good job. If Jermelle or Marcus would have gotten the same amount of carries, they would have put up the same amount of yards I had. Nate Chandler just went out on top.
How were you able to be so successful today? Was it something you saw on film?
The coaches would probably get mad at me, but I didn't really watch any film on these guys. The offensive line just did a real good job on opening holes and I just looked for daylight. When I saw daylight, I just hit the holes. And that was that. Like I said, if Jermelle or Marcus had the same number of carries, they would have done the same thing.
How much did the defense help you guys today?
The defense has been carrying us all year. Those guys keep us motivated.
How much jawing was going on out there with the Florida players?
There was a lot of jawing going on out there. But Coach Ferentz and the coaching staff, they do a real good job of teaching us to talk with our performance on the field.
What was the first play of the game?
It was a new wrinkle that we threw in just like it was a new wrinkle against Wisconsin when I went for a long carry. It was just something that they hadn't seen on film. It was planned to go right. They were pursuing real fast, so I just cut back. Then I was just off to the races.
Did you guys go right more than normal today?
Yeah. That had to do a lot with our preparation. On that right side, there were times this season when they weren't getting their keys. But during the preparation, a lot of those guys improved. We could equal it out in what side we ran to.
So, is this your last game?
Yeah. I think this is my last game (at Iowa). I just got invited to the (NFL) combine and I'm going to go out to Hawaii for the senior bowl out there.
How important was this game for your pro stock?
The whole season was good for my pro stock. Last year, I had a great offensive line. This year, we had less experience so a lot of people wanted to see if I could put up the same amount of yards as I did last year.
The (NFL) team that plays in this stadium needs a running back. Would you be interested in coming back here?
I like it out here. I've got to get adjusted to (the warm weather). We were a little winded in the first half. Once you get your second wind, you get going.
Did you think Florida lost its fight as the game went on?
Yeah. I could see their guys start to give up a little bit. They did a lot of jaw jabbing. If that's the thing they're doing when they're behind, then they know they don't have a chance.
What do you think of the future of the Hawkeye program?
With the coaching staff that we have, there's going to be some good things. With all of the ups and downs we had this year with the injuries, it had to do with the coaching staff to keep is prepared and keep the next man going in.
Do you think the coach will stay?
His son is on the team. So, I know that he's not leaving in the next three years. If anybody's son played on the team, I don't think they would leave their son.
They made it seem like your physical play would not be a problem for them. Did that motivate you guys up front?
That made us want to come out and pound it down their throats, which we did.
Most teams think all of your guys' success comes from running behind Gallery all of the time. DO you think that you surprised them by running right a lot?
That's great. And either way you go, it kind of goes both ways because the front side has got to get their guys and stretch them out and then the backside has got to cut them off. You need both sides of the line to be successful. Everybody is working as one. I don't really think of it as running my way or running the other way. Whatever way it is, I've just got to do my job.
On Fred's long run on the opening play, you took out two guys. Can you recreate that play for me?
The play was going right so I took my playside steps and snapped my guy. Then I saw a backer coming outside a little bit and I stuck my other hand out to slow him down while keeping my hand on the first guy I was blocking. Then Freddie just popped out behind me.
These guys had been giving up a lot of rushing yards all year long. What were your expectations in running the ball?
I knew we were going to be able to run the ball. We had a great game plan. The film showed that we were going to be able to move their guys. We were just ready to go. Our fundamentals were where they needed to be. We worked a lot of fundamentals before we got here and also when we came down. All that went together and made us successful.
They're not a big defense, but they're quick and athletic. You guys are big. Was this the day that the big guys won?
We're big, but we're athletic, too. The Iowa O-line is trying to not be a bunch of big fat guys that can't move. We want to be the guys that can move around. They were probably more athletic than us, but we were sound in our technique and sound in our game plan. Our center, Eric Rothwell, did a great job of making calls and making sure everybody knew where we were going. Everybody was on the same page. When that kind of stuff is going, things work out.
When did you feel like you guys on top of it in terms of running the ball?
Once you get those first couple, you just know that you're going to be able to keep doing it. You've got your guy on his heels. You know that you're going to be able to run the ball, and he knows that your going to be able to run the ball on him. He knows in the back of his mind.
Was their a point where you felt them break?
Not really. The more we ran the ball it just seemed like the more they got tired. We just kind of wore on them. We were in good shape. We've been running like crazy for the last month and doing all kinds of stuff so that we would be able to do that. All of that was a huge help. We just kept grinding it. I don't think that they're used to that. They wanted us to pass.
Did you guys do anything defensively on Troupe to throw them off?
We played our base stuff where you have a Will linebacker and a middle linebacker on him. We're a matchup zone team, and we didn't really do anything differently.
Who matched up with him most of the day?
Were you guys jamming him?
Actually, Matt Roth did a great job of jamming him at the line of scrimmage. And then when he came out and ran his routes, you could tell that he was kind of tired. He wasn't really into what he was doing today.
Do you notice that they started to wear out?
Yeah, in the third quarter. You couldn't really explain why it happened. We were in better condition, I think. We worked our butts off this last month. We were really ready for this game. We were focused.
Did the offense pick you guys up after you gave up the long touchdown?
We gave up the big one. We were down a little bit, but we knew what they had. They couldn't do anything else. We knew we could stop them if we didn't make mistakes to hurt ourselves. The offense goes out there and has a nice drive and put some points on the board, and that gave us a lot of confidence.
Did that show their growth?
It was just a well-rounded victory today.
Did you see the line coming together and the offense clicking during the last month?
You think about guys like Mike Jones, a freshmen, he has a whole month to get better. It was like going to camp again. It was huge for him. It was huge for an O-line that was maybe patched up a little bit this year.
How much did they talk out there today, and at what point did they stop talking?
They talked quite a bit, and they didn't really stop at all. But, that's what they do. That's fine with us.
Did you see surprise in their eyes at all the way you were pushing them around the field?
Ratliff I think was the one that said, "You guys are balling today." We were just playing our game. That's all that we do. We play hard. We outplayed them physically. And I don't think that they were in shape.
Do you think that surprised them?
I don't know if it's a Big Ten thing. I just think the physicality we saw today, they couldn't match it. They had a lot of good speed, but we matched them with speed, too. We had an answer for every punch that they threw.
Leak never looked comfortable. Did you guys just get enough pressure on him to keep him guessing?
We didn't want to make him feel comfortable. We wanted to put as much pressure as we could on him knowing that he's a young guy, and it would be tough being back there with all of that pressure. Our D-line did a good job up there today. We wanted him to scramble and run a little bit. We know he can makes plays when he scrambles, but we also had to stay on the receivers.
Did the offense pick you guys up a little bit early in the game?
Yeah man. The offense worked it today. I can't say how proud I am of them the way they came in this type of game, in this type of atmosphere and do what they did.
Did you see their growth over the last month?
When we got down here to practice and just watching those guys on the other end of the field, you could tell that the chemistry had risen. The guys had done a great job, and they were ready for this game.
Did you notice that the Gators changed the way they played after you guys knocked them around a little bit there in the second quarter?
That was our plan to come in and be physical and hit them hard. We wanted to change the game around and make then do different things to put them in bad situations so if they made mistakes we could capitalize on them.
Did you guys change anything after their long touchdown?
Not really. We played our normal defense. We played the same defense. There was just a miscommunication in the back and they did a good crossing route. We didn't change anything. The coaches weren't mad. That was all we gave up. So, you just keep playing. You worry about the next play not the one that happened before.
How were you guys able to take Troupe out of the game?
I don't know. Keep our eye on him. Whenever he ran deep routes, we were on him and made Leak look the other way. That was one of his favorite receivers and we knew that coming into this game.
Did it help that you were able to give him different looks?
Yeah, it helped. But we knew what they were going to do. Everything that we did today was something that we worked on all week. We were prepared for it.
Did you sense any dissention on their team?
No. I think that maybe they were surprised maybe at how physical we were. That's our game though. We're not going to beat them with speed. We know they're faster than we are. That's the facts. We knew we had to play our game. We got up, and they were kind of looking around for answers. That really works in your favor when a team starts to do that.
Nathan said that he was able to check things at the line and get into the right play.
The great thing about having extra time to prepare is that we had a lot of checks. We knew they had a lot of looks and a lot of defense that would screw up a lot of our plays. Nate picked up about every one. We knew there was a possibility of a big play if we got the check and we got the right block. It worked out on a lot of occasions.
Are they a well-coached team? Were you more prepared?
(laughs) They're a well-coached team. They've got a lot of great athletes. We came to play today. I'm not going to…he's a great coach. They've got a lot of great players; a lot of big time recruits. We're just a bunch of hicks from Iowa. We were focused, and we knew what we had to do.
Did you get the feeling that maybe they didn't respect you as much as they should have?
There was some of that all week that maybe we were just Iowa and this is Florida. But we came to play, and we knew that we had to play well to beat them.
They were talking even when they were way down.
That's the great thing about sports. Some guys like to run their mouth and some of them do that more than playing. When you're down by that much, I wouldn't be saying a whole lot.
Do you think they respect you now?
They figured it out. That's football. You've got a lot of different types of players. We knew that talking wasn't going to get is anywhere today. So, we came out and stuck them in the mouth. That's our game.
How much pride does the O-line take in Fred Russell's performance?
Fred was running really hard today, really hitting the holes. The other four guys on the line were doing a great job like they always do. We were just clicking together. It was a group effort. The defense was getting us back on the field. And we got it in the end zone.
Does it feel good to win in Florida and kind of stick it in their face?
Definitely. The only people that thought we were going to win were Iowa fans. And they always think we're going to win. To be in Florida, and beat them on their home turf, and kind of silence the critics that thought we didn't have a shot in this game, that was a great feeling.
Do you think you guys answered the critics that said you guys couldn't contend with their talent and speed?
Football is football. There are so many factors. You can't just go out there and take off running without expecting to be hit. You have to take more than a 40 time into account.
Did you feel that before the game and maybe even during the game that they didn't respect you?
They came out jumping around when they were introducing their team. After about the fifth series, I think they realized that they were in for a long game, especially their defense. Our offensive line was just manhandling them and swallowing them up. That's going to take it's toll.
What about all of their jawing? That never did anything, did it?
It wasn't anything that was that bad. It was just guys from Florida who had played guys from Florida that we had on our team. Some of that is just giving each other a hard time. It's harmless, and it's something that everybody is used to at this level.
Could you sense this type of performance was coming with the way that you guys prepared?
From last year's bowl game to this year's bowl game is just a completely different attitude. We weren't going to go back to Iowa City with a loss. That's something that we made up our minds was going to happen. The seniors were going to make sure that that happened. Everybody sacrificed all week, whether it was watching extra film or taking time to stay off of your feet rather than hang out with your family and some of your friends.
You guys looked like you really rattled Leak. Did you sense that?
He's faced some great defenses all year, but SEC plays a lot more man coverage where if you put the ball in the right place a guy is going to make a good play. When you've got linebackers jamming guys up underneath and great safety and DB play behind them, it's hard to find those creases.
What's it like to beat Florida in their backyard?
It's something that not a lot of northern teams get to do. It's special and it's something that the program can build off of.
What is the legacy of your senior class?
To go out in the last two years with 21 wins and to see this program make a complete 360 is just great. I remember one of our first meetings as a class when some of the administrators where having an NCAA meeting. They asked us, "What do you guys want to accomplish in your careers?" A Big Ten championship was up there and turning things around was up there. We got it done. The ball is rolling. I just can't wait to see these guys keep it going. It will be exciting. It's a challenge. Every senior class has got to pick up the slack. You don't want to be the class to let it slip. It's a good challenge for the guys that are coming up. They'll be ready to take it on.
Did you see the offensive line gel over the last month?
It's so different playing against our offense line than playing other teams. They take their initial step and you're getting a face mask right in the chin. That's something that a lot of teams don't teach. It's a way that Coach Ferentz has always had guys block. It paid off today. Fred Russell had a great game. When you're running behind guys like Gallery and Sam Aiello and Rothwell, who are seniors, it's something that they've been working for all year. They had a great month of practice.