The Box Score: Inside Hawkeye football statistics

BY BEN ROSS | SEPTEMBER 17, 2013 5:00 AM

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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 the season.

The Iowa Hawkeyes are now riding a two-game winning streak after defeating Missouri State and Iowa State in back-to-back weeks. Mark Weisman has been the lead workhorse/bell cow/slobberknocker/gym rat/bulldozer for Iowa’s running game, and the stats show why.

Rushing Attempts — Mark Weisman, 85 (1st in NCAA)

Weisman is getting the rock. A lot. His 85 carries lead the nation, 10 touches ahead of Boston College’s Andre Williams. Weisman is on pace to carry the ball 336 times this season, which would be the most of an Iowa back since Shonn Greene, when his number got called 307 times in the 2008 season.

Rushing Yards — Mark Weisman, 425 (Third in NCAA, second in Big Ten)

Mark Weisman’s 425 rushing yards are the most through Iowa’s first three games of a season since Fred Russell had 471 in 2002. The two runners ahead of Weisman — Rutgers’ Paul James and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon — combine for 98 carries, which is just 13 more than Weisman alone.

Weisman is averaging 5 yards a carry, which is good by any standard measurement but pales in comparison with his stats leaders. James is getting a little over 8 yards a touch, and Gordon is churning out over 12 yards every time the ball gets handed to him.

Total Offensive Plays Called — 249 (Second in NCAA, first in Big Ten)

Did you know only one school (Cal) has run more offensive plays than Iowa? The Hawkeyes have run 80 or more snaps in all three games this year — a first ever for an Iowa football team in the Kirk Ferentz era. The Hawkeyes are averaging about 83 plays per game on offense, which is perhaps showing the greatest change in offensive philosophy from years past. For example, Iowa had just one game last year where it ran more than 80 plays — an 18-17 win over Northern Illinois in the season-opener.

Third Down Defense — 29.5 percent (Third in Big Ten, 23rd in NCAA)

Iowa’s defense has done a pretty spectacular job of getting off the field on third down so far this season, allowing opposing offenses to make it to the chains on third down just 13 times on 44 attempts.

This statistic is huge for Iowa’s offense, too. By getting opposing offenses off the field early and often, Iowa is able to get its scoring plan in rhythm, run the ball down the throat of the defense, and get off 80 or more snaps a game.

Time of Possession per game — 35:06 (First in Big Ten, Ninth in NCAA)

It’s a pretty simple formula, actually. The longer a team has the ball, the more offensive snaps it should have, leading to more scoring opportunities. This statistic goes hand-in-hand with the amount of offensive plays Iowa has been running, which could be the biggest indicator that the Iowa football team is improving its scoring ability to help bury any memories of its disaster of a season in 2012.

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