I want to express the appreciation of our team and university to the Outback Bowl and the city of Tampa. It's a first rate operation. We are hoping to be back soon.
It was a tough game for us. The credit goes to Florida. They made the plays they had to make. I am very proud of our football team. They played extremely hard. They competed right down to the end; it's been that way for us this season. We have had some ups and downs. But our guys fought and that was evident today. They played with a lot of heart. We were not good enough today and you give Florida the credit.
Q: Were you surprised with Coach Meyer going for a score with :07 left in the first half and then again late on that fourth down play?
I can see taking a shot at the endzone with seven seconds. But the fourth down was a huge call. It was a huge play in the game; it forced us to use our timeouts. It takes a lot of confidence in your defense to make that call. And they executed it. It looked like we had him stopped at first, but it was a great individual effort. He refused to go down and it was a big play.
Q: What about the onside kick, from your vantage point
We are 0-2 on onside kicks. One today and one against Northwestern. They both looked similar to me. One worked and one didn't. I am a little biased; he looked a lot on side to me.
Q: They were a step ahead of you to start the game
They really were. We did a lot of things that didn't look like us in the first half, but our opponent had something to do with it. I felt it was an LSU type challenge from our vantage point. That is what we got. To win a game like that, you have to do everything right. The last two years, we blocked punts for six and today it happened to us. It will be tough to overcome, but our guys hung in there.
That is the thing I will remember about this team. If you look at the whole season, we had some ups and downs. This year, the bounces didn't go our way at times. They never hung their heads and that was evident today. It's a great group of seniors we are going to miss. I am proud of everyone on our team and everyone associated with the program. We will go back to work on next season here in a couple weeks. Our goes showed a great attitude today.
Q: Have you had any contact with any NFL teams, especially with what happened today with Green Bay? (Their coach was fired)
No, and if I did I wouldn't tell you. I don't know what happened in Green Bay today, other than the sun coming up. I will make a bold prediction; there will probably be a few jobs open up. This is that week of the year in that league. I have had contacts the last few years and I am still here, aren't I? You want to talk about the pink locker room? You talk about old news.
Q: Talk about what Drew has given you in the last two bowl games.
I think there were two excellent quarterbacks today. Chris Leak showed a lot of poise and did a great job. We have seen that from Drew for three years, even his first year as a backup. We felt great about his intangibles and continue to do so. He has a great attitude on the field. We have him for another year and we are excited about that. He has a lot of respect from all of us.
Q: When you were late in the game, did you really believe you had a chance there?
That is what you think when you are a coach or a player; you never believe you are out of it. It looked like we executed the thing. You get the possession and you have a shot at it. When it went the other way, we didn't execute the second one. We thought we were still in it.
Q: What will be your emphasis for next year?
It starts with replacing your seniors, particularly for us, it's a challenge. We are not a four-deep outfit. We have to bring along players and leaders and I have seen some young leaders emerge the last several weeks of the season and during our practices for this game. I am excited about that. We need to do better in September, that has been something in my mind for some time.
Q: Was that Bryan Mattison's best game?
Bryan gained ground each week. He has been a good leader for us, and the sky is the limit for him. All of those guys have grown. I am sure both his mom and dad are proud of him today.
Q: You seem to have a family atmosphere emanating from your program.
It's a tradition at Iowa. I have been here 16 years now. In the 80's, it made it enjoyable. The state lends itself to that and we encourage that to keep it going. We have a lot of players that care about each other. It's fun to be around them on a day to day basis. We are disappointed today, but the sun will shine tomorrow and we wish our seniors the best.
Q: Does anything stick out concerning the officiating?
You don't think I am going down that road, do you? I would say it was a very consistent performance. (LAUGHS). That is pretty neutral, right? I guess we were not ready.
Q: It has to bother you that you came back and you have a game decided by an official's call.
There were so many plays in the game. This was a close game in the end. I could go back and name four or five plays in each half that we made it tougher on ourselves. That is part of the game. It's disappointing at the end, but when you go through that, you have to look at the whole body of work.