Drew Tate was watching video of himself when his step-father, Dick Olin, noticed something in the Iowa quarterback's form. The senior signal caller was dropping his elbow during his throwing motion.
Olin coached Tate at Lee High in Baytown, Texas, so he was every familiar with his son's delivery.
"My dad is a pretty good quarterback coach," Tate said. "He was saying, "Look at what you're doing." I was like, "Jeez." No one here (at Iowa) was telling me."
Tate has been working since the end of the regular season on coming over the top with his arm before the release of the ball. He started dropping his elbow in the preseason when he suffered an abdominal strain.
"When I came in as a freshman, I had great fundamentals," Tate said. "I had them for the first couple of years. What happened was when I had the abdominal strain, I really overcompensated on a lot of my throws. That's why I was missing balls that I normally never miss. I'm trying to get out of that habit of dropping my elbow because when I was hurt I dropped my elbow so I wouldn't have pain. When I did that, the ball was all over the place."
Tate joined his teammates in a mantra laid down by head coach Kirk Ferentz after a regular-season ending, 34-24 loss at Minnesota on Nov. 18. It was "Back to the Basics" in preparation for Saturday's match-up with defending national champion Texas in the Alamo Bowl.
"These coaches know what it takes and they know what we need," Iowa Cornerback Charles Godfrey said. "If it takes us to go back to basics to come out and beat Texas, then that's what we need to do."
Attention to details should everyone on team well, from the receivers that dropped passes, to the running backs that fumbled, to the quarterbacks that threw interceptions, to the defenders that missed tackles.
Tate threw 12 interceptions this season to go with 16 touchdowns. It represented his worst ratio since becoming the starter as a sophomore.
"I'm just really trying to go back to staying on top and throwing the ball well," Tate said. "I know I'm the quarterback and I have to do this for everyone, but I'm more worried about my performance and what I can do to help this team before I branch out and go somewhere else."
GOING HOME: Tate and several other Hawkeyes are receiving an opportunity to play in their home state for the first time as collegians.
"I'm just going to go home and have fun," the Hawkeye QB said. "There are no expectations. I'm going to go out with friends on the team, meet up with friends who I went to school with who are from the area and just have fun."
Tate set Texas prep records for completions (970), attempts (1,576) passing yards (12,180), touchdown passes (113) and touchdown passes in one half (7). He was not recruited by the Longhorns.
"I wasn't good enough or I wasn't what they were looking for in a quarterback," Tate said. "It's nothing personal. It's just what they wanted. It wasn't me."
If it sounds like some motivation seeps from those words, you're probably not imagining it. Godfrey, who also attended Baytown Lee High, also was over looked by UT.
"It is motivation," Godfrey said. "They're the marquee program of our state. Those guys are put on a pedestal. They are good.
"This is an honor for me. I'm going to go down there and give it my all. I really want this game.
Scott Chandler played for a Texas grad in high school. Todd Dodge coached him at Carroll High in Southlake, Texas.
"I don't know if it was a courtesy to him that I got letters (from the Longhorns), but it wasn't too much (of a recruitment)," Chandler said.
SEEKING RESPECT: When the bowl game betting lines came out in USA Today, Texas was favored to beat the Hawkeyes by 11.5. Iowa was the longest shot on the board.
"People are going to have their opinion," Iowa running back Albert Young said. "That's just the general public. We're 6-6 and they're 9-3. Who wouldn't think that if you're just somebody on the outside?
"But we know that we can play with them. When we play smart and we play hard, we can play with anybody. People are going to have their opinions, but we don't worry about that."
The betting line has since dropped to Iowa plus nine points, but few are giving the Hawkeyes a chance to win. Pat Forde of ESPN.com picked Texas to win 38-10, saying: The Hawkeyes have been America's most overrated team the last two years. If the Longhorns aren't completely uninterested after blowing the Big 12 South title, they'll kill Iowa.
"It's obvious comparing victories and comparing what they did last year and what's happened this year," Tate said. "But anything can happen in the game. And as they all can see, everyone probably picked Texas to beat A&M in Austin. Out of 100 people, probably only one or two picked A&M."
The Longhorns lost, 12-7, to Texas A&M on Nov. 24, costing them a spot in the Big 12 title game and a possible spot in a BCS bowl.
REDEMPTION SONG?: Many scribes and pundits (me included) have called the game against Texas a chance for the Hawkeyes to make up for a disappointing 6-6 campaign. The players have steered clear of taking the approach.
"I wouldn't say it's redemption, and I wouldn't say going out here with a win is going to salvage the season," Iowa Safety Marcus Paschal said. "But to go out here and play hard and get a win is going to be a big first step in getting ready for the '07 season for the program."
Tate also has avoided the temptation of looking for redemption in his home state.
"You would look at it and think that way, and yeah, it is, but I don't go in thinking like that," he said. "I go in thinking that if I protect the ball and throw the ball where I need to throw it when I need to throw it, then everything will take care of itself."
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Iowa already has played three teams in the AP Top 10 this season. The Hawkeyes lost to No. 1 Ohio State and sixth-ranked Wisconsin at home and on the road to No. 3 Michigan.
Iowa lost all three games, but played each team close at least into the third quarter. Those teams combined for a 34-2 record this season.
"We played with those teams for a while we just couldn't play the full 60 with them," Tate said. "Everybody on the team knows that. When we play teams like that it takes everybody to another level as far as their approach and their executing on the field."
Said Young: "The outcome of those games wasn't what we wanted, but we know that we can play with them. We were that close to being where we wanted to be. We know that if we come with the right attitude and play the way we're capable of playing, we can play with some of the top teams in the country."
Iowa began the season ranked in the Top 15 nationally and moved up with a 5-1 start. The Hawkeyes then dropped five of their last six.
"We lost more games than we expected to, but at the same time, we have chance to finish on a high note," Iowa Safety Miguel Merrick said. "We can be a great team. There has been time throughout the season where we've shown our potential, but we haven't been consistent. That's something that bugs us all. We know what we have and we know what we can do."
QUICK HITTERS: Iowa play the defending national champion for the second time in the last three bowl games. The Hawkeyes defeated LSU in the '05 Capital One Bowl…Texas is the only Division IA program to enjoy nine consecutive nine-win seasons…Freshman QB Colt McCoy has thrown a Texas school record 27 TDs this seasons.
Drew Tate's father and high school coach, Dick Olin, noticed something wrong in his son's throwing motion. The Iowa quarterback has worked hard at correcting the problem. Read what Tate has done and also how he feels about not being recruited by Texas in this Alamo Bowl Notes Package.