TAMPA, Fla. — Iowa has made strides on the offensive side of the ball this season, helping the Hawkeyes craft an 8-4 record heading into Wednesday’s Outback Bowl.
But moving forward, offensive coordinator Greg Davis wants more.
He would like to see Iowa operate at an even faster pace next fall as it grows more comfortable with the offensive changes the Hawkeyes have implemented the past two seasons.
Iowa raised its average number of plays from 66.1 a year ago to 72.1 this season, a number Davis expects to continue to grow.
“I think for us and our style we should be somewhere in the high 70s, 78, 79 snaps a game. That is what we should shoot for anyway,’’ Davis said.
Iowa has run 865 plays this this season while limiting opponents to 790 snaps.
IT'S A WRAP: Iowa and LSU put in their final practices at their Tampa practice sites on Monday morning.
The Hawkeyes and Tigers both have walkthroughs scheduled for today at Raymond James Stadium, a place Iowa passed each day on the trip from its headquarters hotel, the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, to its practice field at Tampa Jesuit High School.
“I can’t wait to get inside,’’ linebacker Christian Kirksey said. “It’s not every day you get a chance to play in an NFL stadium. I think we’re all looking forward to it.’’
BRING YOUR WALLET: Looking for a souvenir from the Outback Bowl?
A t-shirt will cost you $25, or if you prefer a polo with the bowl logo and opponents, the cost is $45.
A ceremonial football with the logo and participating teams was priced at $40 for a full size or $20 for a smaller version Monday at the bowl’s annual beach day.
MEMORY LANE: LSU coach Les Miles, a former Michigan player who spent 10 years as an assistant on the Wolverines’ staff, said watching tapes of Iowa from this season brought back all sorts of memories.
“If you’re from the Big Ten, you really enjoy seeing some of those old helmets,’’ Miles said. “I was fortunate to be on some great Michigan teams and to prepare for games in that conference. The teams in that conference are as capable as any conference in America.’’
PROTECTION PLAN: A change in quarterbacks changes roles and responsibilities for nearly every player on the LSU offense.
Running back Alfred Blue said the Tigers will take extra steps to help ease Anthony Jennings into his first career start.
“We have to think a little differently because we want to protect him more and not get out on a pass route too early,’’ Blue said. “We knew what Zach (Mettenberger, the injured senior starter) was going to do and how he would get rid of the ball. With Anthony, we want to protect his blind side a little more.’’
OFFICIAL FUNCTION: While many Iowa and LSU fans enjoyed a Monday at the beach, school administrators, coaches and bowl supporters were guests at a formal VIP reception.
The so-called Gridiron Gala on Monday night included a guest list of around 1,600 people who received official welcomes to the bowl and surrounding events.
MAKING A CHOICE: Iowa fans attending the bowl will have a choice to make tonight.
The New Year’s Eve Parade, an Outback Bowl tradition which runs through the heart of the historic Ybor City district where former cigar factories have been turned into night spots, is scheduled to take place at nearly the same time that the Hawkeye Huddle is going on at the Tampa Convention Center in downtown Tampa.
The parade has a scheduled 5:30 p.m. start, while the huddle event starts 30 minutes later and will include large-screen televisions which will allow Iowa fans to watch the Hawkeyes’ Big Ten basketball opener against Nebraska.