With all the practice and festivities out of the way Iowa and South Carolina are set for Thursday morning’s kickoff of the 23rd Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida. The Hawkeyes are 8-4 and this is a matchup of highly ranked defenses. Iowa defensive tackle Mitch King says the game plan for the Hawks is no different than the regular season.
King says the number one goal is to stop the run and make them one-dimensional. He says if you can do that, it gives you a much better chance to win. South Carolina has turned to redshirt freshman quarterback Stephen Garcia to help ignite an offense that struggled in two losses to close the regular season.
Garcia started two games during the Gamecocks 7-5 season and also is a threat to run the ball. King says they’ve faced a lot of mobile quarterbacks, and have done well, so he’s not too worried about it.
Fellow defensive tackle Matt Kroul says the Hawks will try to keep it simple. He says South Carolina will throw a lot at them, but they will just try to do the basic things they do on defense and be disciplined. At one point the Hawkeyes stood 3-3 but with a victory on Thursday would close the season with the program’s fifth January bowl victory.
All-American running back Shonn Greene says it is important to finish the season strong with a win. He says the Hawks would like to establish the ground game and run straight at them and do what they do best.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz expects the Gamecocks to load up against the run. He says they will make it tough to run, as he says most of the teams in the second half of the season did that to them. Ferentz says like in all their games the Hawkeyes will try to control the football. He says equally important will be "ball security" and not turning the ball over.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier says Garcia has performed well in practice this week, and he says it all depends on playing under pressure. He says it’s easy to play well in practice, but the games are what separate the good players or "gamers."
Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi says moving the ball against the South Carolina defense will not be easy. He says you want to have a challenge and he says fortunately Iowa has a great runningback to take the pressure off the passing game. Stanzi says recognizing what defense the Gamecocks are in will be a key.
He says their ability to disguise coverages makes it tough on quarterbacks and makes it tough on offenses.
Kickoff in Raymond James Stadium will be 10 o’clock, Iowa time.