TAMPA, Fla. — The work of Iowa’s offensive line hasn’t gone unnoticed by Florida defenders.
The Gators, who dealt with top-ranked Alabama’s front five in the Southeastern Conference title game a month ago, don’t believe they are catching a break when they face the Hawkeyes in Monday’s Outback Bowl.
“You watch them on tape and they do a lot of good things,’’ Florida nose tackle Joey Ivie said. “You see why people think pretty highly of them.’’
Iowa’s offensive line edged the Crimson Tide this season for the Joe Moore Award, presented to the top line in college football.
The only award in the collegiate game that is not presented to one individual has a lot to do with the cohesion of the offensive line, its technical skill and its development from the start to the finish of the season.
A balloting of every offensive line coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision is part of the selection process and it’s the finer points of the work which made the difference.
“From a technique standpoint, they do a lot of things very well,’’ Ivie said. “They’ve got a good run game and a lot of that has to do with the way those guys up front are playing. They’re like a lot of the good lines we saw in the SEC. They won’t make it easy on us.’’
Gators defensive coordinator Randy Shannon, the head coach at Miami (Fla.) from 2007-10, said Saturday whenever the Hawkeyes have offensive success, it is largely a byproduct of executing a sound system.
“They like to run the football, that’s no secret,’’ Shannon said. “They like to run it and they like to use the play-action pass. That’s their bread and butter. It’s what coach (Kirk) Ferentz does, it’s what (offensive coordinator Greg) Davis does and they do a great job controlling the game that way starting up front.’’
Defensive back Marcell Harris points to Iowa's rushing statistics as an example of that.
"They have two guys (LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley) around 1,000 yards rushing and to get there, you have to be pretty good up front,'' Harris said. "They are. They're opening some holes and doing what good lines do.''
Ivie said the precision in Iowa’s technique separates the Hawkeyes from other teams the Gators have seen.
“Zone-wise, scheme-wise, they’re really sound,’’ Ivie said. “All around, they’re a great team. We’re a great team. It should be a good game.’’