As far as health, there’s nothing official on the table in regard to Iowa running backs.
We see the results and the brains race for a solution, but, officially, it’s all good with Mark Weisman, Damon Bullock, LeShun Daniels and Jordan Canzeri. The O-line also seems to be in good health. Everyone is playing. There’s nothing official on the table (a la DE Dominic Alvis), so all good there, too.
So, it’s just the production that’s ill.
Last week, Weisman was off to a Weisman type of day with 45 yards on eight carries in the first half. Then, in the second, the junior carried three times for 5 yards and had one reception for 11. The Hawkeyes faced three short third-down conversion attempts in the second half and went with Bullock and two pass plays.
In the second half against the Wildcats, Iowa was held to 28 rushing yards on 15 carries, including two Weisman rushes for 8 yards in the overtime. Iowa has faced Michigan State, Ohio State and Northwestern in the last three games. MSU and OSU are the Big Ten’s elite defenses. Northwestern is eight in the the conference in rush defense, allowing 165.2 yards a game.
In their last three games, the Hawkeyes have rushed 25 times for 57 yards in the second half. That’s taken them out of their comfort zone and has caused a second-half malaise where Iowa has been outscored 53-10.
Weisman — In Iowa’s last three games, he’s rushed 30 times for 117 yards. In early September, the junior had back-to-back games of 30 and 35 carries.
The competition has obviously ramped up. Those 30-carry days came against Missouri State and Iowa State. He came out of the Michigan State game with a foot injury (seven carries for 9 yards) and has only hit top gear in spurts since.
His carries are down and so are Iowa’s sustained drives. In the second half the last two weeks, Weisman has had seven carries for 29 yards. A lot of it this is the defense not getting off the field and the offense not staying on (not to mention the better competition), but the trend is less.
Bullock — Bullock has taken on more responsibility. He was the primary in the second half of the last two games. He’s rushed 27 times for 108 yards.
Iowa uses Bullock in outside zone runs and on passing downs. He remains Iowa’s most versatile back, but he is not the all-terrain vehicle that Weisman is when Weisman is fully charged.
Iowa’s zone blocking scheme asks running backs to work through traffic. Weisman is the clear winner here, with strength and balance that the other rushers don’t have. Weisman also drives his legs through contact.
Bullock makes more decisive cuts and his decision making there has improved. Can Iowa make a living with him off the edge in outside zone plays? It hasn’t yet.
Daniels/Canzeri — The courtesy series that Jordan Canzeri got earlier this season are now going to Daniels.
There’s no rhyme or reason here. Neither back has been given a chance to plant a flag in the competition. There is only one ball, so many carries and one scoreboard.
Canzeri clocks in at around 190 pounds. He’s not the SUV that Weisman is, which is what seems to need right now.
Daniels hasn’t shown great patience and is doing this at the major-college level for the first time. This is not the time for learning on the job or patience. Iowa tried to do something at Ohio State it hadn’t done since 1991. Win. Last week, Iowa was locked in a 10-10 OT game and desperately needed the win.
That said the situation dictates that they’re going to have to take a chance on someone. Does that means riding Weisman, plugging into Bullock’s strengths or simply putting Daniels/Canzeri in the game? Who knows? This is the life of trying to find the hot hand at RB. Right now, you really can’t define who the go-to is.
Intro — (KF has a rough, rough voice today). Hard fought win. Tough game. Happy, big challenge.
Sconnie rivalry – Geographic proximity. They’ve done a wonderful job. It’s fun to play them.
Favorite memory in rivalry – Wisconsin took a turn for the worse. Let for Maine and Barry was hired at Sconnie. Came back nine years later it was the exact opposite. We were invited to be the guest for the Ron Dayne game in ’99. They’ve done a great job. Tribute to place where people work hard and work together.
Iowa’s consistent identity on O and D– Everyone evolves if you’re somewhere long enough. Northwestern is a great example. Visited the Rams and have continued with the “Greatest show on turf” mentality. At some point, you have to decide who are you and go from there. You have to evolve.
Major overhaul, tempted ever? – Old Alabama reference. Bend to what players do best. It happens everywhere. Ultimately, there are things everyone believes in. You have to have that identity or you’ll go nowhere. Recruit the best players and blend your system to those guys.
White and Gordon, Sconnie backs, keeping Gordon in check – Just as effective between the tackles. They use him effectively other ways, too. We tried to recruit him for obvious reason. He’s outstanding, as is James White. They lose one outstanding RB, and pick up another. Ball, White, Gordon. They have good blockers. They throw effectively. Don’t know if there’s a better player in our conference than the receiver (Jared Abbrederis). You have to defend everything.
On Gordon recruitment (the Kenosha native committed to Iowa and then backed off) – He committed, but never got the feeling everyone in his family was on board with that. Recruiting is an emotional thing and it didn’t work out that way. Wisconsin has done great recruiting its state. Barry established that in the ’90s. It’s not easy to break in there.
Gordon remind of anyone? – Not good at that game. He’s explosive. So is White. Young guy coming up, too. They usually have a couple, three guys who can hurt you.
On CJF in red zone – It’s probably well documented we weren’t a good O last year. We’re moving and scoring better. When you have a TE with his size and ability, makes sense he’s a good target in the end zone. He’s made some great catches. Credit to him.
MORRIS NAMED LOTT IMPACT PLAYER OF THE WEEK
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – University of Iowa linebacker James Morris has been named the Lott IMPACT Player of the Week. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound senior from Solon, Iowa, had eight tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery in Iowa’s 17-10 overtime win over Northwestern on Saturday in Kinnick Stadium.
Morris is one of 20 quarterfinalists for the annual Lott IMPACT Trophy, which will be presented Dec. 8 in Newport Beach, Calif. The Lott Award is the only major college award based on character. IMPACT stands for Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics and Tenacity.
Morris has been an academic standout at Iowa, earning District VI Academic All-America honors as a junior, while twice being named Academic All-Big Ten. He was a 3.95 GPA student in high school and is a political science major at Iowa with a 3.8 GPA.
This season, Morris leads the Hawkeyes in tackles for loss (7.5), sacks (4) and interceptions (3). He has 64 tackles on the year and 357 career tackles to rank eighth in school history. He is also the current Big Ten Conference defensive Player of the Week, an honor he also earned following Iowa’s 23-7 win at Minnesota earlier this season.
Morris was a superstar in high school, being named all-state in Iowa three straight years and leading his team to three straight undefeated seasons. On offense, he ran for over 6,500 yards and scored 110 touchdowns.
Iowa (5-3, 2-2) hosts Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1) Saturday at 11:06 a.m. (ABC/ESPN2). A limited number of single tickets remain for the annual “Blackout Game”. Student tickets are $50 (two allowed per student) and general public tickets are $65. Tickets can be purchased at hawkeyesports.com, by calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS, or in person at the UI athletics ticket office in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
2013 Lott IMPACT Players of the Week
Week I – Devon Kennard, USC
Week 2 – Ed Reynolds, Stanford
Week 3 – Anthony Barr, UCLA
Week 4 – Spencer Shuey, Clemson
Week 5 – Alden Darby, Arizona State
Week 6 – Eric Kendricks, UCLA
Week 7 – Bryce Hager, Baylor
Week 8 – Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
Week 9 – James Morris, Iowa
Kirk Ferentz transcript
The opening stuff and then about three minutes on LB James Morris, who was named Big Ten defensive player of the week for the second time this season in the wake of the NW game. Wisconsin stuff. Stuff on Barry Alvarez (the Mount Rushmore of modern Wisconsin football). Iowa having three senior LBs. Expect OLB Christian Kirksey closer to the ball this week (4-3 over).
On Melvin Gordon. The UW game in 2010 (someone media is making that a project this week, someone not me). Some good stuff at 3:00, but I can’t read my writing. Something about postgame. UW’s running game. Growing Iowa’s passing game.
Shoot, I know what it is at 3:00. I asked about the pre-, postgame handshake with coaches. KF would rather not do it.
On UW coming off bye week (fourth time this year Iowa will face a team coming off a bye week On Iowa QB Jake Rudock. On UW WR Jared Abbrederis (KF is high on him). Is Iowa sophomore Tevaun Smith becoming the No. 2 WR? KF is asked if he was surprised Bret Bielema left UW for Arkansas.
On Iowa’s D personnel. Against on Tevaun Smith. On Carl Davis and Louis Trinca-Pasat (who KF called “perfect for Iowa”). The defense in overtime. Crowd at Kinnick last week. On TE C.J. Fiedorowicz , More Tevaun Smith. No fumbles for UW backs .Stopping jet sweep. A “blah, blah, blah” moment. RB Mark Weisman healthy. A few players nicked up, but expects everyone to play this week.
B1G MOMENTS IN ROSE BOWL HISTORY – Jan. 1, 1949 – Northwestern 20, California 14: Northwestern scored the game-winning touchdown with just under three minutes to play in its first bowl appearance. With Cal carrying a 14-13 lead in the fourth quarter, Wildcat halfback Ed Tunnicliff took a direct snap and sprinted 43 yards for a touchdown with 2:59 to play. Cal’s final drive was thwarted by a Loran Day interception, sealing the Northwestern win.
BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY SPOTLIGHT – Michigan State’s Morten Andersen: Andersen, who won the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 1982, was a first-team All-Big Ten selection at Michigan State and also garnered Academic All-Big Ten accolades as a senior in 1981, a year in which he recorded the Big Ten’s longest field goal with a 63-yarder. His success at Michigan State earned him a spot on the Walter Camp All-Century Team. Andersen was drafted in the fourth round of the 1982 NFL Draft and went on to become the NFL’s all-time leading scorer with 2,544 points. In his NFL career that spanned from 1982 to 2007, Andersen was a three-time All-Pro, a seven-time Pro Bowler and a member of the NFL’s 1980s and 1990s All-Decade teams.
Looking at the Legends Division: Michigan State has reached the halfway point of its Big Ten slate, standing atop the division standings with a 4-0 conference mark . . .
Leaders Division Breakdown: Ohio State is in first place in the Leaders Division with a 4-0 mark . . .
Twenty and Counting: Ohio State improved the country’s longest active winning streak to 20 consecutive last Saturday following its win over Penn State. It is the second-longest winning streak in program history, trailing only the 22 consecutive victories during the 1967-69 seasons. It is tied for the seventh-longest streak in Big Ten history . . . Ohio State is one of only four teams nationally with an 8-0 record and one of eight programs who enter the week undefeated.
Going Bowling: Minnesota became the fourth Big Ten team, and third Legends Division squad, to reach the six-win standard and achieve bowl eligibility . . .
Forty is the New 30: With five teams ranked among the top 16 in scoring offense, and the conference as a whole second nationally at 33.46 points per game, Big Ten offenses are among some of the most prolific in the nation. With Ohio State and Michigan State both scoring more than 40 points last weekend, conference teams have combined to score 40 points or more 36 times this season, already surpassing last year’s total of 27 such instances . . .
Efficient Cook: Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook now ranks among the conference’s all-time single-game leaders in completion percentage with his effort against Illinois last Saturday. Cook completed 15 of 16 passes, a 93.8 completion percentage, for 208 yards and three touchdowns. His 93.8 percentage is seventh on the Big Ten’s single-game list and he joins Northwestern’s Kain Colter as this year’s additions to the chart. Colter was a perfect 12-for-12 against Ohio State on Oct. 5, which is tied for first in Big Ten single-game history.
Trophy Time: Two rivalry trophies will be on the line this weekend when Iowa hosts Wisconsin and Michigan State welcomes Michigan . . .
Four-Million Strong: Thanks to the attendance figures following last weekend’s games across the conference, Big Ten stadiums have welcomed more than four million fans through the turnstiles this year. It is the 21st straight season the conference has crossed the four-million mark in total attendance and the 24th year overall. The all games average of 70,932 fans per contest would rank sixth on the conference’s all-time chart, and the conference games only average of 73,675 is on pace to be the highest in Big Ten history.