TAMPA, Fla. – As Iowa puts the finishing touches on its game plan for the Outback Bowl, there is one wild card.
Coach Kirk Ferentz said today at a news conference that not knowing exactly what Louisiana State plans to do with first-time starting quarterback Anthony Jennings presents obstacles to preparing.
“That’s the one wildcard for us,’’ Ferentz said. “There’s not much tape of him, but the job of any quarterback is to lead and that doesn’t change from one player to the next.’’
LSU coach Les Miles said Jennings has handled the transition from back-up to starter well and seems to be growing more comfortable in his role by the day.
The true freshman saw limited action in eight games this season for the Tigers, but finds himself in a starting role after senior Zach Mettenberger suffered a knee injury in LSU’s regular-season finale against Arkansas.
Jennings led the Tigers on a game-winning 99-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 49-yard touchdown pass.
“What you saw on that drive is what he is capable of doing,’’ Miles said. “He does some things in our offense better than Zach and Zach does some things better than Anthony. We will try to play to Anthony’s strengths.’’
That could include a few more carries for the quarterback. Jennings ranked as one of the top dual-threat prospects as a high school player in Marietta, Ga.
Miles said that doesn’t mean the Tigers will abandon a passing attack which has piled up more than 3,000 yards through the air this season.
That also leads to the multitude of issues Iowa faces as it continues to prepare for the unknown in how the Tigers will utilize Jennings.
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“My only wish is that he would have three days to prepare instead of three weeks,’’ Ferentz said.
Iowa returns to the practice field this afternoon at Tampa Jesuit High School as rain moves through the area.
Ferentz said Iowa has enjoyed solid practices throughout the season and continues to get its needed work done in preparation for the bowl game.
“It’s a been a good group that comes ready to work every day,’’ he said.