Notebook: Ferentz, Jones excited for bowl experience


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Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones smiled during this particular admission.

“We’ll only have one player on our football team who’s ever experienced a bowl game before,” Jones said Thursday night. “And that’s our punter, Matt Darr. So you can tell that we have a lot of questions in going to our first bowl game in a number of years.”

This trip to the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl — set for Jan. 3, against the Hawkeyes — will be the Volunteers’ first bowl game since 2010, when they lost to North Carolina in the Music City Bowl.

Tennessee finished this season with a 6-6 record, too, after three-straight years of 5-7. This is also just the second year under Jones, who previously coached at Central Michigan and Cincinnati for three years each. As such, the questions about the bowl game are reasonably expected.

But Jones said his team is excited — not just for the experience of playing in a postseason game but also for how his team will be treated during its trip to Jacksonville.

“It’s very fitting. This will be our 50th bowl appearance in our program’s proud history,” Jones said. “… To be able to explain to [the players] the magnitude of a January bowl game and the magnitude of the TaxSlayer Bowl was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as a football coach.”

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz expressed similar sentiments.

“The one thing I do know is that this city has changed an awful lot in 30-plus years,” he said. “And in talking to guys that have been here, from the Big Ten — most recently, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Northwestern — they just had a fantastic experience with the TaxSlayer Bowl.

“We’re awfully excited for this opportunity to play for an outstanding SEC opponent like Tennessee. … We’re just thrilled to be coming to Jacksonville.”

Jones: ‘When you think Iowa, you think consistency’

Jones admittedly hasn’t watched a lot of tape on Iowa just yet — he and his staff have been busy recruiting. But he doesn’t need film in order to shower Ferentz and the Iowa program with respect and admiration.

Specifically, Jones lauded the Hawkeyes for their toughness and consistency.

“I’ve followed Coach [Ferentz], and I’ve followed the Iowa program for many, many years,” he said. “… When you look at Iowa, you think of stability. You think of consistency, and you win with consistency in everything that you do. They’ve had good consistency and good stability. Their teams have always been very tough, very physical, very well-coached.

“When I became a head coach eight years ago, Iowa was one of the teams I studied in terms of toughness and mentality. I’ve studied them from afar. Have I really dove into this year’s team? No, I’ll do that when we get back next week. But just the respect we have for that football program and what they’ve built is at a very high level.”

Rudock the starter

A report surfaced on the Twittersphere on Thursday that backup quarterback C.J. Beathard would start for Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl. It seemed like good timing — Beathard is a Tennessee native, after all.

But Ferentz said on Thursday evening, quite casually, that Jake Rudock, who started 11 of 12 games this season (he sat out the Purdue game due to an injury), is the starting quarterback.

“He’s our starting quarterback, Jake,” Ferentz said when asked about recruiting in Florida. “He’s been with us for four years now. He played at St. Thomas Aquinas.”

Follow @codygoodwin on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa football team.

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