Iowa Hawkeyes: Defense and Running Game Shine at Minnesota

By Derek Helling
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes showed yesterday that while their offense is still developing, they have one of the top-10 defenses in the nation and a running game that can challenge any opponent. Iowa held a Minnesota offense on its home field that was averaging 41 points per game to just 165 total yards of offense en route to a 23-7 victory.

The big stat that jumps off the page is the rushing yardage allowed by Iowa. The Golden Gophers rushed for 30 yards on 27 carries for an average of 1.1 yards per carry average. Through five games, the Hawkeyes still haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown. Iowa fared nearly as well against the Minnesota passing game, intercepting two passes from Golden Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson and sacking him four times.

In addition to the stellar defense, the Hawkeyes were once again a force in the running game. Mark Weisman continued his successful season, contributing 147 yards on 24 carries to the Hawkeyes’ ground total of 246 yards on 45 carries. Quarterback Jake Rudock had another rushing touchdown in the midst of his 35 yards on five attempts. Damon Bullock added 50 yards on 11 carries and Jordan Canzeri added 13 yards on three attempts.

While the Iowa running game was again powerful, pushing the Hawkeyes in that category up to 20th in FBS now, the passing game still isn’t on par. Rudock finished 15-of-25 for 218 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Rudock’s main target once again was Kevonte Martin-Manley, as yet another game has gone by without a secondary target establishing himself for Iowa.

Rudock threw his interception inside the Minnesota red zone, keeping Iowa’s streak alive of scoring less than 30 points on offense.

Despite the growing pains, the Hawkeyes’ passing game is enduring as Iowa’s combination of superb defense and power running again led to a decisive 13-minute time of possession advantage. Iowa is now ranked fourth in all of FBS in average time of possession per game. As long as the Hawkeyes can continue to run the ball and play defense as well as they have been, that stat won’t change.

Iowa left some points on the field and still has work to do particularly in the passing game, but until next Saturday, they are undefeated in Big Ten conference play and have one of the best running game-defense combinations in the country.

Derek Helling is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @DRokSH, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+.

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