Can you talk about the thought process of being at a bowl and all of the non-football events and parties and things like that?
It's pretty tough (to shut that stuff out). Every guy has 8-10 family members that are there. It's a vacation for them. They might want you to go out to dinner with them at night. You might have five high school buddies that want to go out and do a little partying at night.
It's tough. But you've just got to realize that we're down there to play a football game. You've got the rest of your life to do that type of stuff. You buckle down and concentrate for one week, because this game is going to be huge for the program, it's going to be huge for the players.
We just need to make sure that our number one goal is to win the football game.
You watch a lot of film. In some ways, is LSU like you guys? They started out with a couple of quick losses and then rebounded?
Yeah. Everybody knew it was a matter of time before that team got rolling. They struggled a little early. If you look at their schedule, it's easy to see why they did. They played great teams week in and week out.
They're a pretty young team. It was one of those things where they matured as the year went on not unlike we did. It should be a good game.
Have you noticed with all these Florida guys on the Iowa roster excitement?
Yeah. They're pretty excited and you can't get one ticket out of any of them. You know they're going to have a bunch of family. It's been the same way the last two years. They're the experts down there. We'll make sure those guys are keeping their focus.
Everybody talks about the SEC speed. Do you guys see that as a problem or do you guys think you're just as fast as they are?
That could be a fallacy. It's hard to say.
There's no doubt about it, they are fast. Year in and year out, they probably get the faster recruits out of high school than we get. They're a national powerhouse. Over the years, they've based their game more on speed. We kind of base our game on physicalness.
I'm sure that up and down the board they might be a little faster than us. But you're talking maybe a half yard difference. I don't know if it will be noticeable. Hopefully not.
Can you take that stereotype and use it to you advantage and kind of beat on them a little at the beginning and maybe intimidate them a little bit?
I'm sure they've played physical ballgames. I doubt that we're going to intimidate them. They're a good program. They've played in a lot of big games.
We've just got to come out and play our game. They'll come out and play theirs. We'll see who wins.
You talked a lot about how you just wanted to be all business. But what (were) some of things you're looking forward to as team activities?
I'm not really looking forward to anything. I'm looking forward to practicing and winning the ballgame.
I've been to Disney World before. I don't like waiting in lines. Maybe if we were going to be the beach I'd be excited. But there's beach in Orlando.
What the best part of a bowl trip from a player's perspective and what the worst part?
The best part of a bowl trip is you get another week to play. My first year here, we were 3-8 or something like that. We were done once the season was over. You lose a lot of time to improve, especially for the younger guys.
Maybe the hardest part of the bowl trip is keeping your focus, especially when you've got family and all of your buddies there. You want to come out and spend time with them. They're down there on vacation. We're down there on a business trip.
Have you had a chance to take stock of everything this team has accomplished over the last few years?
Not yet. I'll take time think about that type of stuff in January. We've still got one game left. There's no need to reflect on the past or look too far ahead in the future.
What is the feeling as you get ready to play your last game at Iowa?
It's going to be a huge change in my life. I'll be done with this place. It's something I don't really want to think about. You get a little too emotional. You start thinking about that stuff, you can thrown off from your goals, your objectives.
You just go into this game like it's any other game and hopefully we'll prepare and play like we have been the last few games.
What's the difference between the two bowl games you've played in Florida?
It can be the same as last year. We learned our lesson from the way that we prepared and went into the whole scenario at the Orange Bowl.
We lost our focus. We felt satisfied with where we were at. I don't see that happening this year.
We had a beat down against Arizona State. We learned our lesson and had our eyes opened. We became focused and came together as a team.
What worries you about New Year's Day?
LSU worries me. They're a good football team. They've got a lot of speed. They've got a lot of talent. We're going to have to come ready to play.
What was your reaction to making the Senior Bowl?
It was a great. I'm pretty proud. I don't really get too excited about things or too emotional.
It's just a great opportunity for me. Hopefully I can go down there and show some people my ability.
That's the top game, though. To get that invite, especially when you missed time this season, must be really special.
It probably hurt me a little to miss three games, but I was fortunate enough to get invited down there. It's going to be an opportunity to compete with the best of the best.
How tough was that stretch of missing three games during your senior year?
It was pretty nerve racking just based on the fact that with the injury I had it was questionable whether I would be able to come back this year or not. It was one of those things where I got pretty lucky.
Did you worry that it might not happen for you?
Definitely, especially the week or two after when I was getting all the X-rays and all of that type of stuff. There wasn't any guarantee that I was going to be playing anymore football this year. I was very fortunate.
Three straight January bowls, yet, you're a seven-point underdog. You look at the national landscape, you guys don't get mentioned a lot. What does that say to you guys? Does it create a chip?
We play better as underdogs. I'd rather be the underdog than the favorite. It's a situation that we feel comfortable in.
That's the way that it's going to be here at Iowa. Even with the team that they're going to have coming back next year, I'm sure they're going to be underdogs in a few games. People will be questioning.
But it's a situation we've been in before. We're fine with it.
Does that come from the guy with the big office?
Yeah. A lot of people around here just in the way that they've evolved have kind of been underdogs. Even Coach Ferentz, I don't know if he was the first choice around here. He's an underdog himself. We all feel pretty comfortable being in that position.
So, you're not offended when he refers to you players as mutts and things like that?
Nah. Coach likes to make us sound a little worse than what we are. (laughs) It makes for a better story. I know what he's saying.
It's fun to have the guys we have around here; guys that have had to work for everything they've received. It makes us a better team knowing the things that we've done to get here.