Troupe the invisible man

Published: Friday, January 2, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 2, 2004 at 1:30 a.m.

TAMPA - Iowa made it a point to contain Florida tight end Ben Troupe heading into the Outback Bowl. Yet even the Hawkeyes couldn't have predicted how little of a factor Troupe was on New Year's Day.

Troupe, a second-team All-American, was held without a catch for the first time all season, a big reason why Florida's offense struggled moving the ball during Iowa's 37-17 win.

"They had a good game plan," Troupe said. "They came out and doubled me, and I couldn't do the things I needed to do to break free. I think we kind of took them lightly."

Iowa dropped an extra linebacker into coverage to create the double team.

"When you've got an athlete like Troupe, that's what you have to do sometimes," Iowa defensive back Javon Johnson said. "Every time we watched film, more often than not it was Troupe who was coming up with a big play."

Chad Greenway was one of the linebackers assigned to shadow Troupe. On the rare instances Troupe found open space, quarterback Chris Leak couldn't find him.

"We were on him, but it wasn't like we were on him every play," Greenway said. "He's a great athlete, but we felt like going into the game we had a good plan and we executed that plan."

The double team created opportunities for other Florida receivers to make big plays in single coverage. Florida capitalized early when receiver Kelvin Kight caught a 70-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. But Florida couldn't build on that momentum for the rest of the game.

Coach Ron Zook said Troupe came into the week with a touch of the flu.

"There were some plays called for him, but they did a good job taking away some things with the double teams," Zook said. "He had a hard time springing free."

Troupe still finished the season as Florida's leading receiver with 39 catches for 638 yards and five TDs. Of the 39, 15 catches were for 20 or more yards.

You can reach Kevin Brockway by e-mail at brockwk@gvillesun. com or by calling 374-5054.

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