That's what Fred Russell has in mind. And probably his coaches, too.
Russell kept saying it.
"Hopefully, since Southern California is so fast, we can just go right up the gut and pound ‘em," he said of Iowa's game plan for the Orange Bowl football game Thursday night in Miami. "To beat team speed, you've got to go right up the gut. "Hopefully, we can wear them down with a good offensive line and the good backs we have."
Russell is certainly one of those good backs. Indeed, he was good enough to be named a first-team all-Big Ten player.
Russell said "it's going to be real important" for the Hawkeyes to establish a running game against USC.
"If we can do that, we can get our big-play skill guys going like Mo Brown, Dallas Clark and C. J. Jones," Russell explained. "Me and Jermelle can make big plays, too, but hopefully we can pound ‘em and wear ‘em down and hit ‘em with a few big plays."
Russell a junior running back who missed two games because of injuries, led the Hawkeyes with 1,219 yards during the regular season. Jermelle Lewis, his main backup, totaled 678.
The 5-8, 185-pound Russell, who is from Inkster, Mich., became the 10th player to run for at least 1,000 yards in a season.
Russell missed the Utah State and Wisconsin games because of injuries and reinjured a shoulder in the regular-season finale at Minnesota, but said he's healthy now and will be ready for the Orange Bowl.
"Everything was giving me trouble (late in the season)," he said. "I was battered and bruised."
Asked his thoughts on Iowa being tabbed a one-touchdown underdog to USC, Russell said, "We've been the underdogs all year. That's nothing new to us."
Iowa and Ohio State tied for the Big Ten title with 8-0 records, and the Hawkeyes were 11-1 overall. USC was 10-2 overall and was 7-1 in the Pac-10 Conference.
Although some people wonder if Iowa will be able to recover the strong play it showed down the stretch of the conference season, despite not having a game since Nov. 16, Russell said not to worry.
"I don't think having so much time off will bother us," he said. "It won't affect our timing. I think it was an advantage for us to have the time off."
Ex-ISU Assistant is USC's Coach
The Orange Bowl game will be the first coached by Pete Carroll of Southern California against a Big Ten opponent.
As a head coach, that is.
Carroll spent the 1978 season as an Iowa State assistant when Earle Bruce was the head coach. The Cyclones blitzed Iowa, 31-0, at Kinnick Stadium that season in a game that helped cost the Hawkeyes' Bob Commings his job.
After Iowa went 2-9, Commings was replaced by Hayden Fry.
Before going to USC, Carroll spent 16 seasons in the National Football League. He coached defensive backs for the Buffalo Bills in 1984 and the Minnesota Vikings from 1985-89. Carroll then was defensive coordinator for the New York Jets (1990-94) and San Francisco 49ers (1995-96). He was the New England Patriots' head coach from 1997-99.
Carroll had a 1-1 record in games against NFL teams on which Ferentz was a staff member. Ferentz spent six seasons as an assistant with Baltimore and Cleveland of the NFL.
"Pete is a West Coast guy," Ferentz said, "and looks to be a real good fit (at Southern California). A lot of guys in the NFL figure out this (college football coaching) isn't a bad deal. Talking to Pete briefly, he seems to enjoy where he's at. I feel the same way."
Carroll, who is in his second season at USC, has a 16-8 record. His team lost to Utah, 10-6, in the Las Vegas Bowl last season.
Norm Chow, USC's offensive coordinator, was the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Brigham Young in 1991 when Iowa and BYU played to a 13-13 tie in the Holiday Bowl.
Chris Carlisle, USC's strength and conditioning coach, is a native of Mason City and attended North Iowa Area Community College there.
Vol. 2, No. 113
Dec. 28, 2002