There is no trickery. No snazzy new scheme. No complicated offense.
Iowa, LSU’s opponent in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day, plays old-school football.
“They run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, play action,” LSU defensive back Jalen Mills said.
No. 14 LSU (9-3, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) meets an Iowa team that wields an old-fashioned offense, a rarity in the up-tempo, pass-crazed, no-huddle schemes of today.
Iowa (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) uses a pounding run game to set up a traditional passing attack. The Hawkeyes run 43 times per game and pass 28 times. Walk-on fullback turned starting running back Mark Weisman has run for 937 yards and scored seven touchdowns.
“Their running game is the bread and butter,” LSU linebacker Lamin Barrow said.
LSU players spent last week watching film of Iowa while conducting their first seven bowl practices. They practiced for the final time in Baton Rouge on Sunday before dispersing for Christmas break.
They’re set to leave for Tampa, Fla., on Thursday and arrive at 11:15 a.m. at the team hotel, the Westin Tampa Harbour Island. The hotel is on an island just south of downtown Tampa.
The Tigers will practice five times at the University of Tampa ahead of the noon game Jan. 1 against a Hawkeyes team that will offer LSU’s sometimes struggling linebackers group a stern challenge.
They run right at you.
“From a linebacker standpoint, kind of a game you want, game you welcome,” Barrow said. “Just come down and make the play we’re supposed to make. Game’s going to really be on our shoulders.”
LSU’s linebackers will be expected to stuff the run gaps, shed their blocks and make tackles at the 3- and 4-yard level.
Mills and the secondary must not be lulled asleep by the Hawkeyes’ ground attack. Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock doesn’t have explosive numbers, but coach Les Miles called him a “guy that can make all the throws.”
Most of Rudock’s passes go to someone other than a wide receiver. Two of Iowa’s top five pass catchers are tight ends — CJ Fiedorowicz and Jake Duzey — and another is a running back.
“He’s a big threat,” Mills said of the 6-foot-7, 265-pound Fiedorowicz. “We’ve got to jam those guys off the line.”
Depth chart changes
LSU released its depth chart ahead of the Outback Bowl on Monday with some expected changes.
At quarterback, true freshman Anthony Jennings is listed as the starter ahead of Stephen Rivers. Injured senior Zach Mettenberger is listed as the No. 3 with “[OUT]” next to his name. Mettenberger suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament against Arkansas.
The biggest shakeup is in the secondary, where three LSU players aren’t traveling to the bowl site and another, Corey Thompson, is out with injury.
Ronald Martin or true freshman Rickey Jefferson are listed in the safety spot opposite Craig Loston, Thompson’s old starting spot.
Loston’s backup is now Mills. Micah Eugene, who has left the team, had backed up Loston.
Mills and Tre’Davious White are listed as the starting cornerbacks. Derrick Raymond, not traveling to the bowl, has been removed from the depth chart. He had been the third-string cornerback behind White and Jalen Collins.
True freshman Rashard Robinson remains the backup to Mills. Robinson may start at corner, Mills said last week, if Mills starts instead of Martin at safety.
Radio on the road
Miles will conduct the bowl edition of his radio show in Tampa, Fla., on Dec. 31 at Tequilas bar and grill. The one-hour show will begin at 6 p.m. CST.
Tequilas is at 1613 7th Ave. in historic Ybor City. The Les Miles Show will follow the annual Outback Bowl Parade, which also travels down Seventh Avenue.
The show, hosted by play-by-play announcer Jim Hawthorne, can be heard in Baton Rouge on WDGL-FM, 98.1.