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The Box Score

BY MATT CABEL | SEPTEMBER 10, 2013 5:00 AM

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

Iowa’s 1-1 record may show a team in flux following a 4-8 season, but the stats show a team improved.

Rushing yards — Mark Weisman, 280 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns, 5.6 yd average (second in Big Ten, ninth in NCAA)

Weisman’s 180-yard, 2-touchdown performance against Missouri State on Sept. 7 cemented his role as Iowa’s top running back after his rise to fame last season. In a little over a season, Weisman has rushed for more than 1,000 yards as of Sept. 7, and the former fullback will surely rush for many more under second-year offensive coordinator Greg Davis. 

This stat shows that, like previous Iowa offenses, the Hawkeyes like running the football. Add in that 5 of the team’s 6 offensive touchdowns have come on the ground, and it’s clear that the running game will be crucial if the Hawkeyes are to return to a bowl game this postseason. 

Total tackles — Anthony Hitchens, 21 (second in Big Ten, T-30th in NCAA) 

Hitchens’s numbers speak for themselves. After recording 122 tackles last season, the senior is on course to have another successful season. This weekend’s matchup against Iowa State looks promising as well: last season, Hitchens recorded 19 tackles against the Cyclones in Iowa’s 9-6 loss. 
Iowa’s corps of linebackers — Hitchens, James Morris, and Christian Kirksey — is the most integral part of this team’s defense. Kirksey has registered 17 tackles, and Morris 12, for 50 tackles from the linebackers alone in two games. Should the linebackers and the rest of the defensive line continue to tackle well, Iowa will have success against opposing runners and preventing receivers from gaining yards after catches. 

Passing Efficiency — Jake Rudock (Not ranked in Big Ten top 10, 82nd in NCAA) 

Jake Rudock has thrown for 449 yards on 40-of-65 passes in his first two games as a starter for the Hawkeyes, but it seems like less. His passer rating of 115.4 seems about right, but 6.9 yards seems high in Davis’ screen-pass heavy offense. Rudock has thrown numerous complete passes that have gone for zero or 1 yard, and he’s thrown 3 interceptions to 1 touchdown. 

When Davis has called for deep passes, however, Rudock has had a lot of success. His spiral is tight, throws are on target, and he’s gained a lot of yards: his flea-flicker against Northern Illinois was good for 53 yards. Davis’ offense is definitely run-heavy, but if Iowa really wants to open up the running game, Rudock will have to pass the ball a little more and add some play action and deeper throws in the mix to keep defenses on their heels. 

Total Offense — 498 rushing yards, 449 passing yards (sixth in Big Ten, 43rd in NCAA)

This statistic is just about right for the Iowa offense: middle of the pack. Yes, the team is averaging 27.5 points per game — an improvement over last year’s 20 points per game average — but the Hawkeyes struggled to put up points in the first half Saturday against Missouri State, leading 7-0 at halftime. 

Iowa is talented, albeit young, at wide receiver and tight end, and yet tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz has only caught 5 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. Kevonte Martin-Manley, Iowa’s most experienced receiver, has only caught 12 passes for 103 yards. 

The run game has had success, with 5 touchdowns between Weisman and Rudock, but Davis should be wary about overusing the run. Rudock has had success finding the open man, connecting with 10 receivers against Missouri State, but Martin-Manley was the only one to have more than 50 receiving yards. James Vandenberg was only able to throw for 7 touchdowns last season; if Rudock continues his trend of using his feet to score, he’ll be taking a risk of losing his arm as a viable scoring threat.


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