Nike shorts and Santa hats gave way to helmets and full pads when the Iowa football team went to work on Day 2 of Outback Bowl practice Thursday at Corral Memorial Stadium at Jesuit High School.
“It was a good day of work,” said head coach Kirk Ferentz. “We have a lot of work to do, but it was a good day of work and good to be outdoors. We haven’t been outdoors since Lincoln, so it’s a little bit warmer. Not warm for the people here but it’s warm for us. It’s good to get acclimated.”
The Hawkeyes practiced under the sun in temperatures that hovered around the mid-70’s, which is beautiful weather for any Iowa snowbird, but a big change for men in battle armor.
“We’re coming from 10-below temperatures,” said linebacker Anthony Hitchens, “but we’re getting used to it. We had full equipment on and it was a much smoother day today than yesterday. That’s why we came down early. You have to get used to the weather. It’s a different climate.”
Iowa is six days away from facing No. 14 LSU in the 2014 Outback Bowl, and Ferentz said every day of practice is valuable, particularly under the sun when preparing for an early afternoon game.
“Practice for us is really important,” said Ferentz. “We haven’t been outdoors, first and foremost, since the end of November. We work indoors, but it’s not the same.
“For us to have a chance in this ballgame we’re really going to be on top of our game, which means we have to practice well and we have to get all the details down.”
Iowa will face an LSU team that finished 9-3 overall, 5-3 in the SEC. The Tigers can run the ball, pass the ball, and put points on the board. They’ve outscored their opponents by an average of two touchdowns per game this season, which means Iowa’s offense must be ready to punch and counter-punch.
“We’ve looked at LSU the past week” said offensive tackle Brandon Scherff. “They’re big up front and they’re fast like every SEC team. They’re physical and we’re just trying to play our style of football. If we do that we’ll be in good shape.”
Iowa’s style includes a workman’s attitude – show up every day, every week, and get better.
“We definitely improved from yesterday,” said Hitchens. “We have a good plan here and as long as we stick to the plan we’ll be alright.”
“Today was a little bit better than yesterday,” said Ferentz. “It’s good for the guys to get acclimated and get used to being in a different routine, different environment. They’re working hard.”
Iowa (8-4) and LSU (9-3) meet inside Raymond James Stadium on Jan. 1. The game will be televised by ESPN at 12:02 p.m. (CT).
(release courtesy of hawkeyesports.com)