1. Sports

Iowa spreads ball around on offense

Kirk Ferentz is leading the Iowa Hawkeyes to the Outback Bowl for the fourth time since 2004.
Kirk Ferentz is leading the Iowa Hawkeyes to the Outback Bowl for the fourth time since 2004.
Published Dec. 29, 2013

TAMPA — With two 1,000-yard receivers in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, and a go-to tailback in Jeremy Hill, who averages 6.8 yards a carry, LSU has offensive success with a handful of standouts who should soon play in the NFL.

Iowa, LSU's Outback Bowl opponent on Wednesday, operates a bit differently.

Iowa's leading receiver, Kevonte Martin-Manley, has 384 yards this season, and seven Hawkeyes have at least 150 receiving yards. RB Mark Weisman leads the way with 938 rushing yards, but a handful of other backs, including Damon Bullock (467 yards) and Jordan Canzeri (447), get their share of carries.

There isn't a lot of star power on his squad, but Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz thinks that's fine.

"The sum of the parts is a little bit better than the individuals," Ferentz said. "We've got a lot of guys that are just good college players, and they really melded together well. They have a lot of fun being with each other, and they take a lot of pride in what they do. And that's the kind of team that's fun to coach."

Risky ways: In his nine seasons as LSU's coach, Les Miles, nicknamed the Mad Hatter, has earned a reputation for trick plays, like when the Tigers scored on a fake field goal to upset Florida in 2007.

Miles' risks have paid off in big ways. Still, his trickery isn't planned, Miles said. It's a product of game-time decisions specific to each matchup.

"I think there's some enjoyment in making a play that takes real skill to execute," Miles said. "But I don't know that that's the reason you put them in. I think the reason you put them in is for success. The opportunity to execute them and win."

Back again: Unlike LSU, which is making its second Outback Bowl appearance and first since 1989, the Hawkeyes are familiar with the Tampa Bay area. This is Iowa's fourth appearance in the Outback Bowl, having played in 2004, 2006 and 2009.

Ferentz, who has coached Iowa since 1999, says a routine makes a bowl a little bit easier.

Ferentz's son Brian played offensive line for the Hawkeyes when they faced Florida here in 2004 and again in 2006. Now, Brian is an offensive line coach for the Hawkeyes, seeing this bowl from a new perspective.

"For the coaching staff it's great. I kind of know the routine a little bit, and things haven't changed dramatically," Kirk Ferentz said. "We know what a good deal it's going to be for the guys who haven't experienced it."