Kirk Ferentz one won of his biggest games of the season on Saturday.
No, Saturday’s game did not feature a Big Ten opponent, but it was just as important to the Iowa Hawkeyes fan base that is running short of patience for their coach. The Hawkeyes had their annual meeting with their in-state rival Iowa State Cyclones. This game was for state bragging rights and possession of the coveted Cy-Hawk trophy.
On Saturday, Ferentz showed his experience and patience as a coach and “he danced with the one that brought him”. That one that brought him is junior tailback Mark Weisman. Weisman is proving to be a saving grace for a Hawkeyes team that started off the season in disappointing fashion. Ferentz and his staff called on Weisman 35 times on Saturday, and he responded averaging just over four yards per carry for 145 total yards.
To date, Weisman has rushed for over 100 yards each game, averaging five yards per carry. In fact, Iowa’s lone loss to Northern Illinois was the only game where Weisman totted the ball less than 30 times as he was only handed the football 20 times in that game. Since then, the Hawkeyes have steadily increased Weisman’s role in their offense.
Weisman is currently second on the Big Ten rushing leader list with 425 yards, just 52 yards behind Wisconsin Badgers‘ Melvin Gordon. The way things look, Weisman looks to provide the bulk of what Iowa has to offer on the offensive side of the ball this season. He may have a good shot at being the Big Ten’s rushing leader this season, and is well on pace to rush over 1000 yards.
Iowa has a very effective running attack. Their zone blocking scheme allows Weisman to choose his running lane and use his big physical rushing style to pound for 4-6 yards each time he carries the ball.
Of course, Feretnz would like to continue to develop promising quarterback Jake Rudock this year, but Ferentz would be wise to do what so many great coaches have done in the past: find what you are good at and impose it on your opponents. The recipe for success for the Hawkeyes this season may be five yards at a time by Weisman.