The Iowa Hawkeyes leave for Tampa later today for the January 1st Outback Bowl against Florida. Much of the focus has been on how the Hawks will prepare in hopes of avoiding a lackluster effort like last year’s Orange Bowl loss to U-S-C. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says the season ended a week sooner last year and the players were allowed to go home for Christmas. That won’t happen this week. Ferentz says it just seemed to him, upon reflection, to try to develop a “little bit more of a rhythm” during the down time so the team can be in better sync. Ferentz says the Hawks were not sharp in last year’s Orange Bowl loss to U-S-C and points to several missed opportunities in the first half as examples. Ferentz says by his count, the Hawkeyes had a chance to score at least 21 points in the first half but they didn’t. Instead, Ferentz says the game unraveled for the Hawks because the team wasn’t sharp. Ferentz is not concerned about being in Tampa for more than an entire week before the game. Ferentz says they’ll hold a few things back to “pop on ’em down there” to keep the team mentally “stimulated.” Ferentz says Tamnpa will be a much different experience for the players than the Orange Bowl was. Ferentz says it was a 30-minute ride to South Beach, which is a whole different environment. He says Tampa is “a bit more Midwestern.” Florida coach Ron Zook says the first thing he thinks of when someone mentions Iowa football is the pink visitors’ lockeroom, something he saw firsthand as an Ohio State assistant. Zook says Iowa is well-coached and “hard-nosed.” Zook says while the Hawkeyes are physical they are not one dimensional on offense. Zook says Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has coached in the N-F-L and knows how to attack defenses.
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