Spurrier, Ferentz preview Outback Bowl
IOWA COACH KIRK FERENTZ
"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 about sports."
SOUTH CAROLINA 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 here."
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:
"I 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."
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