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Robinson returns, runs with resiliency

BY BRENDAN STILES | NOVEMBER 17, 2009 7:21 AM

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When Adam Robinson suffered a high ankle sprain in Iowa’s 15-13 win over Michigan State on Oct. 24, officials said the redshirt freshman would miss the final four regular-season games and could make a return to whatever bowl the Hawkeyes play in.

But it only took two weeks for the Des Moines native to return to the gridiron, and the timing could not have been better.

Although Robinson practiced with the team all last week before the Hawkeyes’ game on Nov. 14 at Ohio State, his backfield counterpart, Brandon Wegher, was slated to start.

The true freshman had started two games in Robinson’s absence, and one of those outings included a 118-yard rushing performance with three touchdowns against Indiana.

To play it safe, Robinson wore a red jersey in practice designating quarterbacks and players in the process of recovery from injuries, meaning he was not allowed to be tackled. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz called this a precaution, concerned with any swelling of the ankle.

“He wasn’t saying a lot, but he just gives you a good vibe,” Ferentz said of Robinson. “He keeps competing and plays hard. If there’s any possibility he’s going to get it done, he’s going to do it.”

Just before Iowa and Ohio State kicked off inside the “Horseshoe,” Robinson learned he would start after the team discovered Wegher was dealing with what Ferentz called “internal complications” after the Hawkeyes’ 27-24 overtime loss.

Robinson said he thought at some point Wegher might be able to play against Ohio State, but he got himself ready to go the distance.

“It’s just normal how I usually prepare myself for a game, just with more intensity,” he said. “Throughout the game, I just prepared myself to mentally play the whole game.”

Early on, Robinson struggled against the Buckeye defense, accumulating only 17 yards on seven carries.

But in the second half, he began to get things going.

Robinson’s first two carries of the second half both went for nine yards. The redshirt freshman quarterback James Vandenberg hit junior Derrell Johnson-Koulianos with a 55-yard reception that got Iowa down to the Ohio State 7-yard line.

The Hawkeyes were unable to score in that third-quarter opening drive, but it enabled Robinson to finish with 74 yards rushing on 20 carries.

Considering the circumstances Iowa faced being short-handed in the backfield and playing in front of a six-figure attendance at Ohio Stadium, Robinson’s performance against one of the top defenses in the country was nothing short of remarkable. And something Ferentz said was “totally unexpected.”

“He played extremely well,” sophomore wide receiver Marvin McNutt said. “For him to still be kind of injured and play that well, it’s really impressive.”

As the Hawkeyes prepare for their final home game of the season against Minnesota on Saturday, Ferentz is hopeful to have something at the offense’s disposal it has been without for the past three weeks — a chance for Robinson and Wegher to split carries against the Golden Gophers.

“I think we would be better off if we can split it,” Ferentz said. “We’ll play with what we’ve got, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”


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