SAN ANTONIO - The Iowa Hawkeyes have been plotting ways to combat Texas Tech running back Byron Hanspard in the Alamo Bowl. The Red Raiders face a similar problem Sunday in Sedrick Shaw.
Shaw has rushed for 4,043 yards in his college career and 1,003 yards this season, making the senior running back only the eighth player in Big Ten history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in each of three seasons.
Texas Tech defensive coordinator John Goodner knew Shaw was special, but that nugget of Big Ten history surprised him when he learned of it during the kickoff luncheon Friday.
"We knew he was a great football player coming in, but I think that really puts a challenge to our football team to be able to slow him down," Goodner said Saturday.
Shaw, whose style his coaches say is "hard to define," said he doesn't know what moves he'll make on the field until they happen.
"It's like playing on the playground - sandlot football," he said.
Though publicity has centered around Hanspard this week, Shaw, from Austin's LBJ High School, makes it clear he doesn't want to join in that discussion or be compared with the Texas Tech player.
"Byron is Byron, Sedrick is Sedrick," he said.
Shaw played on the Iowa team that was trounced by California 37-3 in the inaugural Alamo Bowl in 1993. Shaw spends little time looking back.
"I can't go back and change what happened," he said. "I have to deal with the game that's coming up this Sunday."
Stopping the Iowa run on first down will be a key goal of Texas Tech (7-4) when the Red Raiders meet No. 21 Iowa (8-3) Sunday night, Goodner said.
"If we come up second-and-5, second-and-4, second-and-7 all night to where we let people have four, five, six yards on the first down, it's hard for us to be in our rhythm," Goodner said.
His players say they are ready to get the job done.
"Our whole defense, we just like to get up there in their face," said defensive back Tony Darden.
"We play hard and we play together," added defensive tackle Corey Chandler. "It's just the swarm mentality. We kind of magnetize to wherever the ball is."
While praising the Red Raiders' overall athleticism, the Hawkeyes hinted Friday they may have found some soft spots in the Texas Tech defense. Offensive coordinator Don Patterson wouldn't divulge any details, though.
"There are no perfect football teams," Patterson said. "We're not perfect on offense, that's for sure. And Texas Tech, we think, has a few places that we might be able to take advantage of."
The Hawkeyes hope to try to thwart the Red Raiders' sometimes explosive offense by keeping it off the field as much as possible.
"The best way to control Byron Hanspard and company is to keep them over there on the bench," Patterson said "We'll do our best to do that."
Texas Tech expects Iowa quarterback Matt Sherman to be a formidable competitor.
Sherman, a junior who was both cheered and jeered by Hawkeyes fans this season, passed for 1,792 yards, completing 145 of 248 attempts.