Orange Bowl primer

Orange Bowl
Iowa vs. Georgia Tech
Tonight, 8 p.m. EST, FOX

Coaching rules

If I have any advice all you bowl pick ‘em fans out there, it’s this: Players don’t win bowl games, coaches do. And with about a month to prepare for Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense, I give the coaching edge to Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz in this one. Ferentz might get more out of less than any other coach in the country, consistently playing the field-position game, controlling the line of scrimmage and putting his team in position to win come the fourth quarter. Now, make no mistake -- Georgia Tech has a very bright head coach in Paul Johnson. However, I just feel that if you give four-plus weeks to a coach the caliber of Ferentz to prepare for a one-dimensional offense like Georgia Tech, he’ll find a way to slow down its rushing attack.

The defensive line will also help

I’ve discussed the Iowa front four in the past, and man for man they aren’t the biggest or most physically gifted of athletes. However, as a unit they play as disciplined and as hard as any defensive line in the nation and are consistently able to disengage from blocks in both the run and pass game and find the football. DE Adrian Clayborn is the best of the bunch. The 6-3, 282-pound specimen isn’t you typical quick-twitch sack artist, but what he can do is set the edge, push the pocket and simply overwhelm opposing tackles on contact. His ability to hold the point of attack in this one and keep himself upright from the consistent cut blocks of the Georgia Tech O-line will be key. Also important will be the play of defensive tackles Karl Klug and Christian Ballard, who both have the type of range to make plays in pursuit and chase down the triple option from the backside. The defensive linemen at Iowa are consistently among the most technically sound units in the country, and you can bet they’ll come fully prepared to keep their lower halves clean and find the football vs. all of Georgia Tech’s option looks.

The curveball

What makes Georgia Tech’s offense so tough to slow down is the fact that it has a wideout in 6-3, 229-pound Demaryius Thomas who has the ability to expose opposing defenses any time they try to cheat their safeties up into the box. Thomas is averaging more than 25 yards per catch this season and does a great job using his size and length to overwhelm opposing corners one-on-one. He isn’t the most explosive of straight-line athletes, but he exhibits impressive body control and jump-ball ability and knows how to go up and get the football. He isn’t thrown to often and has a tendency to almost lull opposing corners to sleep throughout the game, but he makes the most of his limited opportunities and will force the Iowa secondary to be on top of its game all night.

Strength vs. strength

It will be interesting to see how the Iowa coaching staff chooses to handle Georgia Tech’s All-America defensive end Derrick Morgan off the edge. Morgan is a physical, long-armed athlete who possesses the burst, body control and power to get after the quarterback in a variety of ways. He has 12

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