The Iowa Hawkeyes are looking to get back to their winning ways in 2013, but face a lot of uncertainty before the season kicks off next fall. With questions about who will be under center and just how much of the offense they will carry (not to mention the lack of confidence the team has in their pass catchers), head coach Kirk Ferentz is looking to go old-school with the offense in 2013. That means a return to the hard-nosed, ground and pound running game that Iowa football was founded on.
It will have to be a major turnaround from the effort they gave in the running game last season when they averaged only 123 yards per game on the ground, good for No. 104 in all of college football. Their leading rusher, Mark Weisman, finished the year with 815 yards and scored eight touchdowns, but missed two games and saw limited time in four others. Their struggles in the running game, however, were simply indicative of the overall ineffectiveness of the entire offense, which ranked in the bottom ten of college football in scoring as they stumbled their way to a 4-8 record.
They have reason to hope, however, that things will be different next fall. The offensive line is bolstered by the return of Brandon Scherff and Andrew Donnal from leg injuries which will make the Iowa front deep and experienced. With their full complement of linemen, they should be able to successfully lean on defenses to open up holes for a backfield that is surprisingly deep with strong physical runners.
At least for now, it is. There’s no telling how long AIRBHG will let Iowa’s running back surplus last, but the Hawkeyes have made it through spring with three quality backs that could make serious noise next season. Weisman returns and hopes to put together a full and productive season and he’ll be joined by Damon Bullock and the returning Jordan Canzeri for a three-headed rushing attack that may rank among the most physical in the Big Ten.
The strength and depth in the running game will give offensive coordinator Greg Davis nice versatility in the backfield as he tries to put together a solid offense for 2013. He will need to lean on the running game as he tries to find out what he has at quarterback and receiver early next fall and should ride his running backs as long as AIRBHG will allow.