Sept. 16, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Aside from 300-pound offensive linemen, Mark Weisman’s best friends this season are ice baths and ibuprofen.
The junior fullback/running back/battering ram from Buffalo Grove, Ill., has played 13 college football games for the University of Iowa so he is accustomed to the routine: Haul the ball 30-plus times a game Saturday and there will be a bit of stiffness Sunday.
“It is going to hurt, it always does,” Weisman said after a 35-carry, 145-yard effort Sept. 14 at Iowa State. “That is what ice tubs and anti-inflammatories are for.”
Weisman is the featured back in an offense that averages 239.3 yards on the ground through three games. Of the 718 rushing yards by the Hawkeyes, 59 percent has come from the legs of Weisman. He has carried the ball 85 times for 425 yards and two touchdowns — an average of 141.7 yards a game.
“I love being sore, it’s great, and it means you’re playing a lot,” Weisman said. “That’s what you want to do — help the team. I’m willing to do whatever the coach wants me to do. That’s how physical we play and it shows.”
“I love being sore, it’s great, and it means you’re playing a lot. That’s what you want to do — help the team. I’m willing to do whatever the coach wants me to do. That’s how physical we play and it shows.”
UI offensive back
Weisman is seventh in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing yards per game and he leads the nation in rushing attempts.
His performance didn’t go unnoticed by Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads after Iowa put a 27-21 whipping on the Cyclones.
“He’s a hard-nosed runner in a hard-nosed style of offense,” Rhoads said. “They came in and, in case you didn’t recognize it that was two tight ends, two backs and old-fashion football out there. They ran very effectively and they controlled the line of scrimmage.”
That’s where 300-pounders like Hawkeye left tackle Brandon Scherff come in.
“We wanted to be the most physical unit on the field and we showed that at times,” Scherff said.
Scherff and Weisman love the sound of a running play being called in the huddle by first-year starting quarterback Jake Rudock.
“Mark did a great job running hard,” Rudock said. “You could see it in his eyes, it was like he was saying, `Keep giving it to me.’ I told him, `OK, if you can keep running that well and the offensive line keeps blocking the way they are, I’m going to keep feeding it to you and keep going.'”
While Weisman deserves plenty of cheers, save some for Rudock for the way he handled his first road game. He completed 14-of-23 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns.
“He did a fantastic job with the crowd,” Scherff said. “He got us lined up and we could hear his voice. He did a great job directing us where he wanted us to go; he’s doing a fantastic job.”
“He is such calm and confident leader out there,” Weisman said. “Jake is a great quarterback and we’re lucky to have him.”
When it comes to important defensive plays, seniors James Morris and B.J. Lowery came up huge Saturday by intercepting Iowa State’s Sam Richardson. With less than a minute to play in the first half, Morris broke up a pass intended for James White, twisted and lunged to pick it off at the Iowa 48-yard line. His 27-yard return set up a 38-yard field goal by Mike Meyer, giving the Hawkeyes a 13-0 lead at the break.
Iowa was leading 27-14 with 4:30 left in the game when the Cyclones recovered an onside kick. On second down, Lowery leaped two feet off the ground to make a one-handed intercepted in front of Iowa State’s Jarvis West.
“Those are all big plays, especially on the defensive side,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “When they take place maybe you don’t appreciate how big they are. Those plays came from seniors we’re counting on to be big players.”
The Hawkeyes (2-1 overall) play Western Michigan (0-3) on Sept. 21 inside Kinnick Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. (CT).