BY THE NUMBERS
0 – Sacks given up by Iowa on Saturday
0 – Points yielded in the fourth quarter by Iowa this season
2 – Games this season Iowa has not committed a turnover
2 – Third-down conversions by UNI’s offense in 10 attempts
3 – Rushing touchdowns by Iowa RB Mark Weisman, the first Hawkeye to run for three scores since Adam Robinson in the 2010 opener
3 – Red-zone scoring opportunities converted by Northern Iowa in as many attempts
59 – Consecutive extra-points made by kicker Mike Meyer, one shy of tying Nate Kaeding’s school record
WEISMAN FOR HEISMAN
The Heisman Trophy campaign sounds like a New York Law Firm: Barkley, Ball, Lattimore and Weisman.
College football fans know USC quarterback Matt Barkley, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore as some of the country’s top Heisman candidates. Now entering the Heisman field, Iowa fullback Mark Weisman.
Weisman shifted from fullback to running back because of injuries and ran for 114 yards and three touchdowns Saturday against Northern Iowa. The sophomore from Buffalo Grove, Ill., went from glorified offensive lineman to primetime player.
“You don’t think about getting any touchdowns and rushing,” Weisman said. “You just want to help the team win.”
Strike a pose.
B – Well, I saw my first “Weisman for Heisman” on the internet at about 4:30 Saturday.
– Marc Morehouse
A-minus – Somehow, I missed the recruiting gurus telling us about Mark Weisman and Tommy Donatell when they were in high school.
– Mike Hlas
B – Did anybody just notice that 25 percent of the football season is over?
– Scott Dochterman
THE NAME GAME
Some Iowa players call Weisman “the juggernaut.” Middle linebacker James Morris gave him another moniker.
“I call him the Sherman Tank, ” Morris said. “That’s his nickname.”
For Iowa’s offensive linemen, it was more about a mentality than a nickname. The Hawkeyes rushed for 201 yards on 43 carries. It was pure power football with a power running back, something they appreciate.
“It’s just a physical mentality and people playing hard,” guard Matt Tobin said.
For UNI defenders, it was about a lost opportunity. Strong safety Garrett Scott needed a description rather than a name when asked about stopping the run.
“Who?” Scott said when asked about Weisman. “He leaked into our secondary a number of times. Iowa did a great job of creating running room for him, and we did a poor job of tackling. We didn’t wrap up. He was big back, and he was hard to bring down.”
AIRBHG STRIKES AGAIN
No team in America has dealt with more adversity at a given position than Iowa at running back. After losing eight players due to injury or disciplinary issues in the last three years, two more Iowa running backs went down with injuries on Saturday.
Sophomore starter Damon Bullock rushed for 77 yards on 13 carries before suffering an apparent concussion early in the second quarter. He was on the sideline without his helmet for the rest of the game.
Backup Greg Garmon rushed for 13 yards on four carries before suffering a right arm injury. Third-team running back Mike Malloy didn’t dress after falling ill early in the week and not practicing.
“That was unfortunate, obviously, and then both of them are moving around fine in the locker room,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “But I don’t know how far away we are there.”
Morris was one of Iowa’s greatest all-time prep running backs with 6,466 rushing yards at Solon, sixth-best all-time. But Morris won’t even entertain thoughts of heading to the backfield.
“I just have kind of put those dreams to bed,” Morris said. “Let’s just not talk about it.”
Iowa QB James Vandenberg was sharp early, completing his first six passes and 10-of-13 in the first half. He finished 18-of-28 for 228 yards and no interceptions.
Senior receiver Keenan Davis caught five passes for 54 yards, and all but one produced first downs. Kevonte Martin Manley had five catches for a game-high 101 yards. He hauled in a 26-yard strike in the second quarter and a 51-yard pass in the third quarter.
“We always knew that we were going to get the offense going,” Davis said. “The heart was there. We were all working hard. Nobody was lacking any effort or anything. We just went out and executed.”
The performance came after two rough passing outings against Iowa State and Northern Illinois.
“It’s a relief but we know what we can do,” Davis said. “We know we have a lot of work to do.”
DROPPING A BAD HABIT
Iowa’s receivers went from eight drops to two against Northern Iowa. It was a smoother effort, one both Davis and Vandenberg expected.
“When you have those days, obviously the world is falling, but we bounce back,” Vandenberg said.
“Drops are going to happen,” Davis said. “We don’t really focus on how many drops we’re going to have. You’ve just got to get over it. It’s football.”
DON’T ASK DONATELL
Iowa strong safety Tommy Donatell intercepted a pass in the third quarter, his second consecutive game with an interception. Donatell cupped the ball at the Iowa 42 just off the FieldTurf but the play was not reviewed.
“We were in a two-deep safety look,” Donatell said. “I just kind of saw it, dove for it and got under the ball. During the play I felt like I got under it pretty good.”
Iowa and Northern Iowa’s players at times took turns hitting each other beyond the whistle.
“I think you’ll get that with two Iowa schools playing each other,” UNI safety Garrett Scott said. “They were definitely ready to play. They didn’t take us lightly after we played Wisconsin and we played them close three years ago here. They came out ready to play.”
Iowa has won the last 15 against Northern Iowa and has not lost in 10 games to Football Championship Subdivision schools. Those facts didn’t resonate with Iowa’s players, however.
“We have no room for error right now,” Donatell said. “We’ve been struggling a little bit. We’re going to keep on working, keep on giving it our best shot and that’s all we can really do.”
RESPECT PART II
Northern Iowa coaches and players had to play two Big Ten heavyweights in their first three games this year. In another generation, the score would have been lopsided.
But UNI lost by only five points at Wisconsin and 11 at Iowa. They are experiences that could help the Panthers going forward when they enter Missouri Valley Conference play next week at Youngstown State.
“Playing in a place like Kinnick and Camp Randall is going to be huge for us,” UNI quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen said. “When we go to Youngstown and North Dakota State at home, those are going to be two very good teams, but I think we’ve already played two excellent teams. I think we’ll be prepared and keep the train going.”
UNI earned $950,000 for the games, including $500,000 from Iowa.
Central Michigan (1-1) plays at Iowa next week in the Hawkeyes’ final non-conference game. The teams have played twice with Iowa winning both match-ups. The last time they played Iowa won 38-0 in 1998.
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