"We're thrilled to be here.
It's been an exciting trip for us already. It's great to get outdoors,
great to feel warm sun. We're just excited to be in Tampa, this is
just an outstanding event. The Outback people and Jim (McVay) and his
staff do a great job. This is just one of the great bowl games to participate
in, so we're thrilled about that and awfully excited about the game
too. We've played this game twice now, this is our third trip. Any
time you line up against an excellent team from the SEC it's quite
a challenge and this is no different for us. South Carolina is an outstanding
football team, they're extremely well-coached and we know we have
quite a challenge on our hands."
On what stands out about the South Carolina team:
"It's no big surprise the
passing game is strong and very effective. They've got a great corp
of receivers; their tight ends are excellent in the passing game. They've
played a couple quarterbacks, that adds a little bit of intrigue to
the preparation. First and foremost, that's what jumps out on that
side of the football. Defensively, they played extremely well in both
phases; run and pass. It's kind of hard to figure out what you're
going to try to do. We anticipate them trying to stop the run, that's
usually where defense starts. They've done a good job there all season
long. It's going to be a challenge for us."
On his team's focus for the Outback Bowl compared with the 2002 Orange Bowl:
"I think it's been okay.
That really was more, I think, the result of the first time we were
in that kind of territory. We were 1-10 our first year. It felt like
it might as well been 0-11. So, a couple years later we were in a BCS
game. It was just territory we had never been in. It's just one of
those things. It's kind of like when we went to the Rose Bowl in '81.
We really didn't know how to act. We were thrilled to just be there,
but we didn't know how to act, how to get ready. We paid the price
in that game also. We're hardly coming off a championship season this
year but it was a good season. The focus, our whole demeanor is probably
a little bit more even keel than in 2002. That was predictable, explainable,
and just one of those things you've got to go through, live through
those things and learn from them."
On how he approaches practice for a bowl game:
"The first part of bowl preparation
is really more like spring practice or the first part of pre-season
for us. We just work on Iowa versus Iowa and hopefully get into game
planning. I think the players run the risk of losing focus. Plus we're
trying to recruit. We're not one of those schools that has everybody
committed back in October. We actually have to go out and work in December.
It's just tough; it's a little bit of a fire drill there. We didn't
start our preparation for the bowl game until pretty much the weekend
before we came down here. It's still relatively fresh for everybody
and hopefully it's enough."
On how his team is responding to bowl preparation:
"The toughest part of preparation
is the front end mainly because the game is so far away. I think that's
always hard for players. It's a little bit like spring practice. The
season is still months away and it's always a challenge. I think the
guys did a good job and we tried to explain to them what we were trying
to get accomplished. We didn't keep them out there a long time, but
we're just trying to keep a base because we do finish a little bit
earlier than some other conferences."
On the recruitment of running back Shonn Green:
"We've had some good players
from south Jersey traditionally. We knew about Shonn through the process
and we're just fortunate he picked us. He wasn't a seven-star recruit;
we don't get many of them. He was a good player out of high school
and was a good player a couple of years ago, played excellent on special
teams, but we had a guy, coincidentally from south Jersey, that led
the Big 10 in rushing in 2005. That's one reason Shawn wasn't playing,
but he's done a great job."
On how changes in South Carolina's defense have impacted Iowa's preparation:
"It's been a cause of concern
during the entire month. Trying to project what we might see is a little
bit of a challenge. Certainly, as Steve mentioned, we're a little
bit like Alabama. We're certainly not as good as Alabama, maybe a
little like them, which is nice except they didn't play Alabama so
we don't know how they would defend them. We're playing a lot of
fantasy football this month. At the end of the day they'll have 11
guys out there. We'll have to make plays in all areas of the game
to have a chance to move the ball."
On how the Hawkeyes rebounded in the second half of the season:
"I think they just stuck
with it pretty simply. I've made this comment pretty much all through
the season; we played hard enough to win football games all year, our
effort level was pretty good, pretty consistent, but we didn't play
well enough. It's usually as simple as that. The three games that
we lost when we were 3-3, if you looked at the errors that we made,
in the one game we turned it over five times and still had a chance
to win on our last possession when we were down inside the 10 yard line.
To be in that position with five turnovers expecting to win, you're
asking a lot. A lot of those things are predictable. The guys realized
that we had a chance to have a good football team if they stuck with
it and that's what they did. They stayed positive; they kept playing
hard and became a little bit more detailed, I think, in their preparation
and their play."
On the importance of Big 10 – SEC match-ups in bowl games:
"This is a traditional match-up,
it's the same thing with the Capital One Bowl. There are a lot of
great conferences in the country. I think you can argue that both the
SEC and Big 10 are widely acclaimed. Traditionally, I think both of
these conferences have been excellent. People equate the Southeastern
Conference with speed and talent. I think that's fair. We're a little
more lethargic, I guess, in a lot of people's minds. The traditions
are there, the programs are outstanding. It's just a nice way to finish
the year, and we don't overlap during the season frequently, and we
don't overlap in recruiting an awful lot either. It's a good way
to finish here, a good match-up, it gives everybody something to talk
about going into it, talking out of it. It's one of the great things
COACH STEVE SPURRIER
"We're obviously thrilled
to be here in Tampa at the Outback Bowl. We had a good year, we didn't
finish as strong as we would have liked. Seven and five turned out to
be a pretty good record this year. We beat some good teams and our guys
played pretty well most of the year. Not our best towards the end, but
overall it was a good year for South Carolina. We look forward to playing
Iowa. Kirk and his guys do a super job. They've been to a whole bunch
of bowl games over the years, a solid program up there at Iowa. We're
looking forward to a heck of a game here on January 1st."
On what SEC team compares to Iowa:
"I guess you could say maybe
Alabama plays a little bit like Iowa. Alabama is a run the ball and
throw the ball combination team. But obviously Iowa runs the ball about
as well as anybody in the country this year, with Shonn Greene being
the second leading rusher and winner of the Doak Walker award as the
best running back in the country. We didn't have any runners do that.
We'll certainly be tested against trying to stop Shonn Greene."
On the team's Tampa accommodations:
"The facilities, the hotel,
the Harbour Island Westin is magnificent, one of the tops in the country
without a doubt. Even Jefferson High School, they've got that fixed
up very nicely, the grass is good over there. We've got wonderful
facilities here. Our wives and our children and our grandkids are having
a big time here. It's a nice treat for both teams to be able to be
On Iowa running back Shonn Greene:
"I think he's definitely
an NFL type back because he's big. He can run over people, he can
block linebackers. He can do about all they're looking for."
On the SEC this season:
"I think the last couple
years, prior to this year, the SEC went about bragging how our conference
is the best in the country and all that. And we did have a lot of statistics
to back it up, the size of our stadiums are the largest in the country,
so we have more fans at our games. We sent more players to the NFL combine,
more were drafted, all of that kind of stuff. Of course national championships
were won by LSU and Florida. We had a good time there to promote SEC
football. But realistically, this year Alabama and Florida were definitely
our two big teams. I really think overall we were down a little bit
this year. The SEC wasn't quite what we had been the past two or three
years. We did not fill our bowl spots, I think only eight out of 12
qualified for bowl games. We were a little bit down this year, but hopefully
we'll be back up there next year. We'll be a little quiet this year
unless one of our teams wins the national championship."
On whether the styles of the SEC and Big 10 fit the stereotypes of speed versus strength:
"It don't know if it's
the styles of the conferences or sort of just teams. Purdue, they throw
the ball all over the place up there. Northwestern has been very good.
I think you coach to whatever your talent is, both places, and go from
there. The Big 10 has speed also. They get that reputation that the
SEC is faster than the Big 10; that's not necessarily so. In 1999
we played Michigan State in the Citrus Bowl and we had a sprinter named
John Capel that ran the Olympic 200 meters, and he got loose on the
kickoff and they had a guy that ran him down. Of course, that was Plaxico Burress. Speed is everywhere, not just in the south."
On his plan to use one quarterback in the Outback Bowl:
"We try to figure to go with
one and hopefully he (Stephen Garcia) can go the distance. That's
been our plan. We wish we had one that was clearly our best player,
and let him go play. I think all coaches would love to have that. They're
pretty even talent-wise, and the team is struggling, you've got to
keep trying new guys. Just like you would try a new left guard or receiver,
you've got to try a different quarterback at times."
On Stephen Garcia's health for the Outback Bowl:
"We're going to give him
every opportunity to play as long as he can. He sprained his ankle,
so Chris Smelley is ready to play also. A lot can happen out there.
You always have to have two ready to play. If Stephen is playing well
and doing okay, we'll let him go."
On the decision to start Stephen Garcia in the Outback Bowl:
"After our last game we sort
of announced that Stephen was going to get a chance in the bowl game
and we've been trying to coach him up for about a month now. He actually
does seem to appear he knows a lot more about what we're trying to
do. He seems to look like he's capable. When the live action starts
that's when we'll find out, when they start rushing and all that
stuff happens. To have three weeks taking a whole bunch of snaps has
got to help anybody out there."
On playing Iowa in the Outback Bowl after both teams missed bowls last season:
"I guess that is a little
ironic both of us were 6-6. It's sort of unusual, but that's the
way it worked out. We qualified but didn't get in. One thing we did
this year is when we got our sixth win we said that's good; we didn't
take it for granted. When we got our seventh we said that's good too
because we learned last year six wasn't quite good enough. We appreciated
our victories a little bit more and maybe last year taught us that."