Weisman separates himself as top option in Hawkeyes' running attack
Mark Weisman is making the case that he is the top rushing option on the Iowa football roster.
Thus far in 2013, the Hawkeyes have employed four different running backs in the ground game. Damon Bullock, Jordan Canzeri, and true freshman LeShun Daniels, in addition to Weisman, have seen time in the backfield.
But in its 28-14 victory against Missouri State on Sept. 7, Iowa centered its running attack on Weisman, handing him the ball a career high 30 times.
“Mark really got it going in that second half especially,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Mark looked like he was getting stronger as the game went on, and having LeShun [Daniels], Damon [Bullock] did some good things in the run game, too. We’re going to need all those guys to work together. That’ll help us.”
Weisman finished the game with 180 yards on the ground, including two touchdowns. The Buffalo Grove, Ill. native also surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for his Iowa career.
Weisman has played extremely well since joining the stable of runners Iowa features in its attack. He passed the 1,000-yard career rushing mark during the second half, despite having at least 20 carries in only seven games as a Hawkeye.
“Give the offensive line all the credit,” Weisman said. “It’s all them; they’re making it easy. It didn’t matter what running back was in there, we were going to get yards no matter what back was out there. That’s all the offensive line. I think it’s all them.”
Many of his runs Sept. 7 didn’t develop into big gains until the Missouri State defense had already made contact with the back. Weisman knows he isn’t the best athlete on the field, which is why he has tried to develop the physical aspect of his game.
“I’m not the fastest guy in the world, but I do take pride in that. I think we all do, as running backs, we take pride in finishing runs,” he said. “I’m a big believer in strength and conditioning. It definitely correlates from the weight room on to the field.”
First-year starting quarterback Jake Rudock’s running skills were also on display. The Weston, Fla., native scampered for two scores as well, which puts his rushing touchdown total at 3 for the season.
Rudock has no problem tucking the ball in and using his legs, he said. But the goal of the offensive is to score points. And it doesn’t matter who ends up in the end zone.
“As an offense, we’re just trying to score,” he said. “If I hand it off at the 2, and Mark Weisman walks it in, that’s great. If I have to sneak it in, that’s great, too. It all depends on whatever we have to do.”
The Hawkeyes will now turn their attention to this week’s opponent, Iowa State. The Cyclones were horrific against the run in their only game this season, a 28-20 loss to Northern Iowa on Aug 31. The Iowa State defense allowed Panther running back David Johnson to gain 199 yards on 23 carries and score twice.
It is expected that Iowa will put a large emphasis on the running game in preparation for Iowa State. It would be good to also focus on lowering penalty totals; the team committed 11 penalties for 100 yards on Sept. 7.
“We have to work on the details, that’s what’s killing us,” offensive lineman Brandon Scherff said. “The details, and then those stupid mistakes, penalties, knocking us out, turning third and 2 into third and 7 or farther than that. We have to focus on that. But those are things we can control, so that’s good.”
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