ORLANDO – In an era where rule changes are made to make the scoreboard spin ever faster and players are spaced as wide as the open pitch allows, college football will take a dramatic step in its history on Saturday when Kentucky faces Iowa in the Citrus Bowl.
Iowa has a long and rich history for its online game with three Outland Trophy winners including legend Alex Karras and one Rimington winner this year with center Tyler linderbaum.
Kentucky Doesn’t Fit Hawkeyes History, But Since Coach Mark Stoops arrived the “Big Blue Wall” was the driving force behind the unprecedented success of the Cats. This year, in fact, the entire offensive line was a finalist for the Joe moore reward and tackle Darian kinnard was a consensus All-American selection.
This game, to put it simply, will be won at the line of scrimmage. But frankly, that has always been the case since the first game.
“It’s respect I have for the way Iowa plays,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said Friday. “I want the opposing coaches to put on the film and feel the same for our team and it’s a fundamentally strong team playing the game with great technique. There are a lot of cute things you can do, but it’s about being physical, being fundamental, and playing extremely hard.
“It’s almost like looking at yourself in the mirror,” Iowa coach Kirk ferentz noted. “We don’t run exactly the same programs, but there are a lot of similar characteristics in the programs. They play hard, compete and make you win things. They make the opponent win what they get and I think that’s a goal any coach has every time you play.
“Football is not going to change,” Stoops said. “It’s about blocking. It’s about being physical, it’s about getting off blocks, containing the football, playing with leverage, all the basics and that’s what you see when you see Iowa. Hope this is what you see of us when you edit the movie on Sunday after playing this game. ”
Kentucky appear to have a big advantage in terms of offensive firepower. The Wildcats are averaging 10 points per game more than Iowa, and that was before the leader of the Hawkeyes retired from the bowl game.
But Stoops warns that fundamentals tend to balance this spreadsheet.
“We started watching an Iowa movie and immediately put a smile on my face,” Stoops said. “Well, that was a frown and a smile. The frown was, ‘Oh, damn, they’re damn good. But the smile was, I love the fundamentals of the game, and Phil and his defense and the whole program that you see the minute you put the movie on.
For Stoops, who played in Iowa, it took him back 30 years.
“Seeing black and gold, and seeing the way they basically play, you have an appreciation as a coach,” Stoops said. “The biggest compliment you can give a coach is to put them on this screen and see how they play. They play extremely hard and extremely fundamental and their pattern is fantastic. When you put it all together, it’s a hell of a good product. You always have an opportunity to win when you do this.
If Iowa is to keep pace, its offensive line will need to step up dramatically.
“We are not as veteran as we would like,” Ferentz said. “We have had a difficult year. We have had a few veteran players who have been injured. We’ve played a lot of young guys this year. We are now at 13 games. We should be better and more developed than we were in September. Hopefully it will show tomorrow. We will need it if we are to have a chance in this game. “
Stoops love offensive online play.
“One thing about the offensive line is it sets the tone for your team,” Stoops said. “First of all, there are a lot of them. There are 15, 16, 17, 18 great men walking around all the time, and just with their attitude, their personality, the way they behave, the attitude, the tenacity that they wear, set the tone for your team. It is extremely important.