JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Iowa players appeared to be running in mud at times in Friday's TaxSlayer Bowl. Because they were.
The Hawkeyes struggled to adapt to the soft grass surface at EverBank Field, home of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.
Tennessee, which plays on grass at home Neyland Stadium, didn't seem to have the same trouble in a 45-28 rout of the Hawkeyes that was 42-7 at one point.
The Volunteers scored touchdowns on the first four possessions.
Iowa middle linebacker Quinton Alston noticed in pregame warmups some of his teammates slipping and sliding.
"We knew it was going to be kind of a struggle going into the game," Alston said.
On the game's opening play, Iowa kickoff returner Jonathan Parker slipped and was tackled at the 19-yard line. That trend continued. There's no official stat to measure how many times Iowa players slipped vs. Tennessee players. But it was clear the Hawkeyes had more trouble.
Iowa plays on field turf in home games at Kinnick Stadium. It hadn't played on grass since a 24-10 win at Purdue on Sept. 27.
"It was kind of frustrating at times," Alston said. "You can't just put your foot in the ground and turn directions as you can on turf. You've just got to deal with those things."
Alston was asked if the Hawkeyes could've changed to a different cleat to fix the issue.
"We could've went to seven studs," he said. "Even still, you're getting a little bit deeper in the dirt, and it's still coming up. It was soft most of the game.
"They dealt with it better."