TAMPA, Fla. – It’s not always about you finish.
Take the Iowa football team for example, in today’s Outback Bowl it might be all about the start the 21st-rated Hawkeyes are able to put together.
“We need to come out like we did against Nebraska, come out with a lot of energy and get things going on both sides of the ball right away,’’ linebacker Josey Jewell said. “We need to get off to the same type of start.’’
Iowa outscored the Cornhuskers 13-0 in the first quarter and rolled to a 40-10 victory which led the Hawkeyes to their eighth win of the season and a chance to face 20th-ranked Florida in the noon game at Raymond James Stadium.
It was just the fourth time this season Iowa held a lead after one quarter, and it mirrors issues in recent bowl games that Iowa will also work to turnaround today.
The Hawkeyes fell behind both Tennessee in the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl and Stanford in the 2016 Rose Bowl by 21-0 scores after one quarter.
In the four bowl games Iowa has played – and lost – since defeating Missouri in the 2010 Insight Bowl, the Hawkeyes have been outscored 56-0 in the first quarter and 91-7 in the opening half of the postseason games.
That factored into a thorough review of Iowa’s bowl preparations last offseason and today, coach Kirk Ferentz will see if changes made work.
“We’ve dug ourselves a pretty good-sized hole the past couple of bowls and that’s my primary concern, how can we turn that? We know we’re going to play a good team in a bowl, that’s a given, but we haven’t given ourselves much of a chance,’’ Ferentz said.
Iowa defensive end Parker Hesse said a quicker start is among the Hawkeyes’ objectives.
“We have to come out ready to go,’’ he said. “We learned last year that you just can’t ease into it. You’ve got to come out and put the game plan to work.’’
Quarterback C.J. Beathard said things snowballed on Iowa a year ago in Pasadena, something the Hawkeyes have worked to change throughout the current season.
He believes this team has developed a more resilient approach in recent games.
“Whatever we get hit with, we move on and continue to compete,’’ Beathard said. “That’s one thing I like about these guys. We keep after it and don’t back down. If you do that, you give yourselves a chance.’’
Ultimately, that’s what the Hawkeyes want to accomplish.
“That starts at the beginning of the game,’’ receiver Riley McCarron said. “We need to be ready to leave it all on the field right from the get go. Just like Nebraska, we need to come out fast and get after it.’’