2006 MasterCard Alamo Bowl Preview

Dec. 22, 2006

Iowa (6-6, 2-6 Big Ten) vs. #19 Texas (9-3, 6-2 Big 12)
San Antonio, Texas - Alamodome
Saturday, December 30, 2005 - 3:30 p.m. CT - ESPN
Coaches: Iowa - Kirk Ferentz, Texas - Mack Brown
Series Record: Iowa leads 1-0

Iowa Website Iowa Roster Iowa Schedule

Iowa Statistics

Texas Website

Texas Roster Texas Schedule Texas Statistics

Pts./ Game
Pts. Allowed/ Game
Time of Possession
Yds Allowed/ Game
Yds/ Game
Yds Allowed/ Game
Completion %
With his team's first trip to the Alamo Bowl since 2001, Iowa's Drew Tate will have the chance to close out his collegiate football career where it all began - in Texas. The senior quarterback grew up in outside of Houston in the town of Baytown, where he set state career standards for completions (970), attempts (1,576) passing yards (12,180) at Robert E. Lee High School.

When Tate and Hawkeyes take the field against 19th-ranked Texas in San Antonio on Saturday, Dec. 30, they will face another talented state-native slinger in the Longhorn's Colt McCoy. The redshirt freshman quarterback finished his prep career on the other side of the state in Tuscola by edging Tate for the high school scoring passes record with 116. As a Longhorn, McCoy has been raising new standards in his young career. He marked a school record with 27 touchdown passes this season.

After winning in the Rose Bowl for the past two seasons, Texas will play only 75 miles from its home turf but in unfamiliar territory. Despite starting the season ranked in the nation's top 20, the Hawkeyes have been hampered with injuries. Head coach Kirk Ferentz expects his team to be well-rested and healthy when it clashes with the defending national champion Longhorns.

"It's a challenging draw but that's OK," Ferentz said. "We simply need to use the weeks leading up to the game to work hard and improve with the goal being that we play our best on game day. If we do, it should be a heck of a ball game."

Iowa on Offense
In the schools' only prior meeting, the Hawkeyes followed quarterback Chuck Long to a decisive victory in the 1984 Freedom Bowl. Tate, who trails only Long for the majority of the program's career passing records, will lead Iowa in the second all-time meeting. Despite missing two games with abdominal and thumb injuries, Tate has passed for 2,349 yards and 16 touchdowns.

His top target wasted no time securing his own place in Hawkeye history. Freshman Dominique Douglas leads the all true freshmen in the nation with 46 receptions and also bolstered the Big Ten's second-best passing game with a team-best 614 yards. That line ranks the rookie as the best freshman receiver in program history.

Like Tate, running back Albert Young also struggled with injury. But the junior kept the Hawkeye's run game alive with 715 yards and six touchdowns. Junior Damian Sims bolstered the ground attack with 638 yards and six scores of his own.

Texas on Offense
McCoy has been a steady leader for the Longhorns this year, posting 2,262 passing yards with a 68.7 completion percentage. The young quarterback has also struggled with injuries down the stretch, but is expected to start in the Alamo Bowl game. Giving McCoy plenty of pocket time is a talented front line that includes All-Big 12 first team selections in tackle Justin Blalock, center Lyle Sendlein and guard Kasey Studdard.

Limas Sweed has been McCoy's go-to guy downfield all season. The junior wide receiver grabbed 43 passes for 731 yards and 11 touchdowns. Quan Cosby added a pair of scores and 466 more receiving yards.

While the Longhorn offense is primarily run through McCoy's arm, Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young have combined for 1,385 yards and 13 scoring runs for a solid ground game.

Iowa on Defense
The Hawkeyes saw Mike Klinkenborg's talent shine as he gave one of the best defensive performances in the nation this season. The junior linebacker ranks eighth in the country with 129 tackles and averages almost 11 stops per contest. Edmond Miles, Mitch King and Bryan Mattison have all notched double figures in tackles for loss while Mattison leads the crew after pushing back opposing quarterbacks 57 yards on 6.5 sacks. The junior defensive end also forced four fumbles. Senior defensive back Miguel Merrick has led the aerial attack, breaking up seven passes and snagging three interceptions.

Two talented components could return to boost the Hawkeyes' defense after both missed the second half of the season. Right defensive end Kenny Iwebema missed the last six games with a shoulder injury, while corner back Adam Shada sat out the past five with a sore ankle. The pair are on pace to return for the Alamo Bowl and will add much-needed depth and speed to the Hawkeyes' pass defense.

Texas Defense
Young, who ranks ninth in Iowa career rushing yards, and the Hawkeyes will face one of their biggest tests when they clash with the Longhorns' defense. Although the unit surrendered more than 230 yards per game through the air, Texas boasts the second-best rushing defense in the nation. The stingy unit allowed a mere 58.8 yards on the ground per game. Leading the team are lineman Tim Crowder and backs Aaron Ross and Michael Griffin.

Crowder plowed through offensive fronts to claim 19 tackles for loss, giving opponents a deficit of 80 yards, and 10.5 sacks. Griffin led the team with 116 tackles, followed by his younger brother Marcus Griffin's 82 stops. Ross broke up 18 passing plays and notched five interceptions.

Keys to the game
Health is going to be one of the biggest concerns facing both teams in this game. If the Hawkeyes are healthy and well-rested, they will have a chance to finally showcase all of their potential in the team's sixth-straight bowl appearance. Tate and company will have to gel early and take advantage of the Longhorns often-porous passing defense, while the Hawkeyes' secondary has to find away to keep up with Texas' dangerous receiving corps.

When the unit allowed 17 points or fewer this year, the Hawkeyes have been victorious. With Shada and Iwebema back in the lineup, Iowa will have all of its key components back in place on a defense that led the team to a 5-1 start, and in a better position to end the season on a positive, above-.500 note.

Although Tate will have some familiar support in his home state, the Hawkeyes will have to stay focused despite Texas' virtual home-field advantage at a sold-out Alamodome.