Two-Headed Monsters

Oct. 23, 2009

Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the Oct. 23 edition of the Official Sports Report (OSR) for the University of Iowa. OSR is a daily e-newsletter exclusively about the Iowa Hawkeyes. Click HERE to learn more.

IOWA CITY, Iowa – This is a tale about two-headed monsters, a pair of creatures who will square off inside Spartan Stadium on the Michigan State University campus Saturday at 6 p.m. Iowa time.The game will be televised live and in high definition by the Big Ten Network.

On the black-and-gold sideline of the Iowa Hawkeyes, you have the tandem of running backs Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher. Each has made contributions that have helped the Hawkeyes streak to a 7-0 start in 2009.

On the green-and-white sideline of the Michigan State Spartans, you have quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol. Both have played significantly in the Spartans’ first seven games of the year. They’ve guided MSU to a 4-3 record that includes victories in their last three games.

Robinson and Wegher have pretty much alternated series in the Hawkeye backfield since Iowa’s 35-3 thumping of intrastate rival Iowa State.

Unusual? Yes. Productive? Kirk Ferentz thinks so. “We’re happy with the rotation,” Iowa’s head coach said Tuesday.

Why wouldn’t he? Robinson has run for 520 yards on 108 carries and has found the end zone five times. The red-shirt freshman is averaging more than five yards a carry against Big Ten Conference opponents.

Wegher has rushed for 327 yards and three scores. He’s also fast becoming Ferentz’s No. 1 option on kick returns with a 27.8 yard average that includes a team-best 39-yarder against Wisconsin last week in Iowa’s 20-10 victory over the Badgers.

Ferentz suggests, however, that any evaluation based exclusively on the numbers probably is a flawed evaluation. Last week, for example, each was victimized by plays that simply blew up and which never provided an opportunity for statistical success.

“I think they’ve proven they’re capable. I’ll go back to the Penn State game,” Ferentz said.

Robinson gained 88 yards and Wegher 73 in the Hawkeyes’ come-from-behind victory in Happy Valley. “I’m happy,” said Ferentz.

With respect to Michigan State’s two-headed monster, Ferentz said the Hawkeyes are preparing for both Cousins – the passer – and Nichol – the runner.

“Their offense doesn’t seem to change a great deal regardless of who is in there,” he offered.

“I think they’ve proven they’re capable.”
Kirk Ferentz

Cousins went from start-to-finish in the Spartans’ 24-14 win at home last week against Northwestern. He completed 21 of 31 passes for a season-high 281 yards and a pair of touchdowns to State’s top receiver statistically, wide out Blair White.

Cousins is in a virtual tie among Big Ten quarterbacks with a completion rate of 63 percent. He’s thrown for nine touchdowns against four interceptions.

“They’re throwing the ball pretty well right now, so I’m guessing they lean in that direction,” said Ferentz, who noted that he expects to see a two-head monster Saturday night in Spartan Stadium. “It’s working for them and we’ll be prepared for both.”