One-Man Band

Sept. 24, 2010


IOWA CITY, Iowa — For Adam Robinson, it’s hardly unfamiliar territory. Robinson is alone atop the depth chart. He was the starting running back last season, and has started all three contests for Iowa in 2010.

Now as he looks around, the familiar faces he shared the offensive backfield with are nowhere to be found — for the remainder of the season. Gone is Brandon Wegher who has not played in 2010 after leaving the team due to personal reasons. Gone, too, is Jewel Hampton who will miss the remainder of the season with a second ACL injury in three years.


Senior Paki O’Meara will miss time with a concussion. The injury to O’Meara is not expected to be season-ending, though. Hampton — who was projected to be Robinson’s running mate — missed all of 2009 with a torn ACL. His latest setback is to his left knee.

“I knew it was something serious,” said UI quarterback Ricky Stanzi. “He seemed like it was not right. He would know, he’s had that problem before, so he kind of knows what that feels like. To lose a guy like him, it’s very upsetting. He’s a great football player, he’s a great teammate, and he’ll definitely be missed.”

Robinson will now likely receive the bulk of the carries for Iowa. While Robinson split time with Wegher in 2009, Robinson shined in the 2010 debut for the Hawkeyes as the lone back. With Hampton missing the opener serving a one-game suspension, Robinson took over and rushed for 109 yards and three first-half touchdowns as Iowa dismantled Eastern Illinois 37-7.

The next week against rival Iowa State, Hampton returned to the lineup for the first time since 2008. However Robinson stole the show and responded with a career-high 156 yards rushing on 14 carries, good for an eye-catching 11.1 yards-per-carry average. Robinson posted highlight runs of 75 yards, and a 39-yarder that he took to the house for six points to put Iowa up 35-0 midway through the third quarter.

After putting up numbers like Robinson has this year, some players would relish the opportunity to be theguy in the backfield. That is not Robinson’s style.

“I would much rather have Jewel be healthy and us switch carries than for him to go down and me take the load by myself,” said Robinson. “But at the same time, I’m going to have to step up and be the sole guy for the team. If that’s going to help the team and help us win, I’m going to have to do it.”

“I would much rather have Jewel be healthy and us switch carries than for him to go down and me take the load by myself. But at the same time, I’m going to have to step up and be the sole guy for the team. If that’s going to help the team and help us win, I’m going to have to do it.”
UI running back
Adam Robinson

Besides Iowa’s season-opener against Eastern Illinois, Robinson has shared the backfield throughout his collegiate career. The two-back system has recently gained popularity and is commonly used throughout college football and the NFL. Iowa is no different.

“Having that two-back system is advantageous, especially when you have guys that are as skilled and talented as Adam and Jewel,” said offensive guard Julian Vandervelde. “At the same time, we did the first week without Jewel in there, we did all last season without Jewel in there.”

With Robinson no longer splitting the majority of his carries, there is little depth behind him.

Robinson has proven to be an extremely tough runner. He has routinely broken arm tackles and dragged defenders down the field. Listed at 5-foot-9, 205 pounds, Robinson may not have the measurables that former Iowa standout Shonn Greene had to rumble through defenders. Robinson plays with tenacity that is hard to quantify.

“Whenever I’m on the field I’m going to go 100 percent,” said Robinson. “You never get those plays back. You have to bring more intensity than the guys tackling. It’s one of the things I love about the game — the tenacity, the aggressiveness, and the big hits. “

When a back runs with the intensity and passion that Robinson brings, it is contagious and spreads throughout the team.

“It certainly makes it more exciting to block,” said Vandervelde. “As an offensive line we love to block for backs that will run over a guy or make a guy miss. It kind of makes you want to block harder for them to get them up on those safeties so they have that opportunity to be one-on-one with a smaller guy. I think the experience from having blocked extensively for Jewel and Adam, I think that’s something that adds a comfort level to our present situation.”

The most comfortable part of the situation may be Robinson’s 1,104 career rushing yards heading into Saturday’s game against Ball State…in just 14 total games. For being classified as an underclassman, Robinson has plenty of experience under his belt.

“I’m very confident in him,” said Stanzi. “He’s a guy that knows what he’s doing. He’s played a lot of football here in such a short period. He’s got experience while still being young, so I think he can do what is asked of him every single week.”

Robinson will be asked to do one thing: help Iowa win football games. For that, he is up for the task.

“The main goal I have is to help my team,” said Robinson. “I want that to continue throughout the whole year.”

If it does, the Hawkeyes will be just fine with a depleted running back position.