Tate Talks LSU

Iowa quarterback Drew Tate met with the media on Thursday for the first time since being named first-team all-Big Ten. The newest Hawkeye sensation talks about his growing popularity, the match-up with LSU, his team's ability to save the season after a 2-2 start, the bright future of the program, being the underdogs - Again, and much more in this HN.com premium Q&A Package.

Were you worried about how the season would unfold after the Arizona State game?

We still had a chance to go into the Big Ten. It was a whole new season when we went into that. After the Michigan game, it kind of had everybody down, but we started practicing a lot better. We didn't start repeating plays like we did before. Everyone realized we were 2-2 and we've got to get going.

We had a great game in Kinnick against State and then we had that week off. We had a great off week. And from then on, practice went a lot smoother. We had days that were down, but then we had three good days.

Could you tell the change when it was going on. Or is it something you can tell when you look back on it?

We could tell the change; just the way we practice and the way that people were staying after and watching tape and things like that.

What has enabled you to grasp the offense very quickly? Maybe you ran some of those same plays in the high school.

Nah. Ah, I don't know. I was around last year. I got a lot of reps at No. 2. That really helped out. And just getting with everybody on the team and just getting on the same page. That really helped.

There were a lot of things that went wrong, but they came out as pluses after the play. That was just the lucky side of it.

I mean, the more experience I got, you get better at it.

Was there a point in the season where you thought that this stuff might not be working. It might not happen this year?

No. I can't think of it right now. There might have been times; some stuff.

How about after Arizona State or after the 2-2 start? You played horribly, with all due respect.

Yeah. I don't know. That was our first away game for a lot people; a lot of the linemen and then I and some of the other guys. Then we got to Michigan. We had a tough two road games.

After those games, we just realized as a team that we started practicing better, we got a lot of good out of everything.

Have you given up any of your tickets to the Florida guys?

No. I need some tickets. I need a lot, actually.

How much have you seen of LSU?

We've got tape. We've been watching them the last week, week and a half. They had LSU tape before it was even announced that we were going to play LSU.

We've been watching it with some of the guys and just kind of going through things. We just do little things right now. When we get closer to the game, we get more and more into it.

Drew are you surprised of the success that you've had as a first-year starter just in terms of the accolades you've received?

I'm pretty surprised. I really hadn't throught about it much. I've just been doing things on my own, getting school work and stuff like that.

Phil Haddy just told me about the college football news. That's cool. But I don't want all of this stuff to blow up and then me have a bad bowl game. I'm just worried about playing good in the bowl game and just trying to get a victory out of it.

You've got to take care of business in this bowl game, but you've got to be excited about all the talent you guys have and the possibilities here in the next couple of years.

Yeah. We're going to have some guys coming back. We'll get some of the running backs back. That will help with our running game and open some more things in the passing game.

Are you surprised at the attention that you've gotten? You're more under a microscope.

I figured it was going to be like that. I mean, Nate was and Brad was. I didn't think that I'd be any different being a quarterback and then going to a January bowl. It's part of it.

What's your comfort level with it?

I don't care. People can follow me. Take pictures. Whatever. I don't care. I'm busy. I'm doing stuff.

How about LSU, just a chance to play the defending co-national champions? It's going to be a great opportunity.

Yeah. I'm excited about it. I know some guys that play because LSU is about three hours away from my town. It's going to be fun to get to play those guys. We've got a lot in front of us.

Do you think that Iowa is close in maybe taking that next step in terms of where they're looked at nationally?

I think so. We've won 30 games in three years. I don't know how many teams have done that. People are going to start picking up on that kind of stuff. Coach Ferentz and those guys get those kids in that aren't highly recruited and they come in and do a great job. Some more big recruits will start looking at us.

How will LSU be able to defend your abililty to get out on the edge and throw?

I don't know. They've got athletes from their D-line all the way to their secondary. They're going to have a good package coming into the game. And we'll have a good package going into them. It just comes down to whoever doesn't turn the ball over.

You think it's that simple?

I think so. Whoever has the fewest penalties and the least turnovers is going to win the game. If we just protect the ball and keep the ball and just let our defense play and just try to put points in the board and get a chance to get a field goal here or there, it will be pretty good.

Have you heard that LSU wanted to play Texas in the Cotton Bowl?

I didn't hear that. I did not know about that.

Well, that's something for your bulletin board.

Alright. (laughs)

How do you keep yourself sharp with the long layoff? Do you just throw when you can and watch film?

Yeah. That's basically about it. Right now, there's a bunch of school stuff going on. You just take care of that stuff. After that, we'll have a week here and then we'll go down. That's when we start hitting it really hard after finals.

When you're around town, do people notice you more than maybe they did last year?

It's gotten a little more. I don't have crowds following me around or anything. (laughter). It's not like that.

Maybe next year.

Maybe next year. I don't know.

Do you see yourself as a big player on this team?

I just see myself as a person on the team. I'm not any different than anyone else on the team. Everyone has a role. Everyone just executes. We've just been playing well together. That's what has made us 9-2 and co-Big Ten Champs.

I don't think we have any self players. Everyone takes care of themselves and takes care of each other and plays for each other.

Is it a myth, this Big Ten size verus SEC speed?

I don't think there's anything about it. Whoever plays football with the least amount of turnovers and penalities are the guys that are going to win the game. Our defense can play with anybody in the country. We just have to play smart on offense.

How do you make sure the concentration is on football with all of the distractions in Orlando?

A lot of guys played in the bowl last year and two years ago. They know how to handle all of this stuff. We're going down there the 23rd and get all of that stuff out of the wway so we can just start focusing on football and LSU.

People talk about Iowa and LSU being mirror images. How much does it help to go against your defense in getting ready?

It will help out. It will help out our linemen and everything with their speed and things like that. That's what the bowl prep is all about is getting ready and going against good people. If we go against our guys. If we just play within ourselves and not try to do anything more, then we've got a chance.

Do you guys view them being a touchdown favorite as a lack of respect for what you guys were able to do this year?

We've been the underdogs I don't know how many games. But people don't look at it that way. They just look at it as they're going to go out there and do what they're supposed to do, and we go from there.

Is this team terminally under rated though? Are people just not getting it?

I don't know. I don't think that it really matters what people think. It just matters when it comes down to playing football and what happens after the game.

What did Brian Ferentz's return do for this offense?

It helped out getting a guy in there with experience and knowing what's going in to help out the O-linemen. I don't know if he brought a potion or anything with him. He just knew what was going on and did the best he could to help us out.

Did it bring toughness? He was talking about losing a leg six months ago and he's playing without an MCL in one leg?

A lot of people see that and a lot of people are playing for him. But he's playing for Lee. And Lee is playing for Mickens. Mickens is playing for Hinkel. We're all playing for each other. We're playing for the guy next to us. We know that Brian is going to give us everything he can. And we're going to do everything for Brian.


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