The Box Score: Digging into Iowa football stats, Week 6


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The Box Score is a weekly segment in which a Daily Iowan football reporter uses statistics to contextualize Iowa football’s performance over the course of a season.

Mark Weisman has been good for the last three games. But exactly how good? Here’s a look at the numbers.

Weisman rushing yards per last three games: 169

Weisman has 507 rushing yards since taking over as Iowa’s top ballcarrier. That is second best in the nation over that span, and it puts him in rare company in school history as well.

Marcus Coker averaged 106 yards per game on his way to an All-Big Ten second-team selection last year. Shonn Greene tallied 142 yards per game in his Doak Walker-winning 2008 season. And Greene’s best three-game stretch from that season was 489 yards — 18 fewer than what Weisman has produced.

The bruising sophomore is also gaining more than 7 yards on average every time he carries the ball. That’s almost a full yard more than Greene’s 2008 campaign and more than 2 yards above Coker last season.

It remains to be seen whether Weisman can run like this for the whole year or against defenses like Michigan State or Ohio State. But his three-game run has been historically good.

Net yards per punt: 33.5

Last season, the Hawkeyes were the Big Ten’s best punting team, with an average of 38.5 yards netted per punt.

This season, under true freshman Connor Kornbrath, the Hawkeyes have seen that ranking drop off to 11th in the conference and 100th nationally. Kornbrath is averaging just 36.3 yards on 17 punts, although a Sept. 15 punt against Northern Iowa hurts that average. Kornbrath kicked the ball only 25 yards through the air, and then it bounced back toward the line of scrimmage. Kornbrath himself downed the punt for a net of 11 yards.

Senior John Wienke, however, is excelling in his new, highly specialized role. Wienke is Iowa’s designated short-yardage punter, kicking the ball when the Hawkeyes need to pin it in opponent territory. Out of Wienke’s seven punts, five have been downed inside the 20-yard line —two inside the five.

Turnover margin: plus-7

After forcing four turnovers and committing none against Minnesota on Sept. 29, the Hawkeyes have jumped to the top of the conference and to 14th nationally in this stat. Iowa’s defense has come up with 10 takeaways this season, and its secondary has intercepted four passes.

The Hawkeyes’ active threesome of starting linebackers — James Morris, Christian Kirksey, and Anthony Hitchens — are responsible for four of those takeaways in addition to 143 total tackles.

Although James Vandenberg and Iowa’s passing game have struggled to move the ball, the senior quarterback does not seem to commit turnovers. The Iowa offense has turned the ball over just three times this season. Vandenberg only has 2 interceptions, both in a loss to Iowa State. In fact, he has only been intercepted 9 times in the last two seasons in 563 passes.

As a team that does not have a high-powered offense, Iowa needs to find ways to get good field position. Winning the turnover battle always helps.

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