IOWA CITY — The playbook changed siginificantly and it paid off huge for a 24-0 Iowa halftime lead.
One, the flea flicker. Hello, Captain Obvious. This play took advantage of the fact that running back Mark Weisman had 57 straight carries — successful ones, at that — before yielding to Greg Garmon in the second quarter.
The flicker started with what looked like an inside zone to Weisman. He flipped back to QB James Vandenberg and from there it was just don’t screw it up for 47 yards to WR Jordan Cotton.
Then, before half, Iowa got out of its own goal line with a draw to Weisman out of the shotgun. Iowa has run out of the shotgun maybe three times all season. The play was executed beautifully up front. Weisman cruised through a huge hole for 32 yards. The drive didn’t score, but it did drain the final 6:31 of the second quarter, keeping the Gophers deep down in a hole.
The passing game showed growth. Twice Vandenberg and WR Keenan Davis picked up on cornerback Troy Stoudermire tipping a blitz. Vandengberg and Davis ID’d it for a 20-yard gain to UM’s 5, ending with a 1-yard Vandenberg plunge for the 24-0 lead. The second time, it gained 6 yards on a third-and-5 and allowed Iowa to run out the second quarter.
The stats were all-Iowa.
Weisman averaged 9.7 yards a carry, going 16 times for 155 yards. Weisman had back-to-back carries of 28 and 44 yards to fuel an 84-yard drive that he capped with an 8-yard run. It was Iowa’s longest scoring drive this season.
Weisman is what Montee Ball was.
Vandenberg completed 13 of 19 for 165 yards and the TD to Cotton, the first of his career.
Minnesota finished the half with three first downs and 75 total yards. The Gophers had just one first down in the second quarter.