Oct. 5, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — When University of Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock put his foot on the gas for the Hawkeye offense Saturday, he used a different source of energy.
Rudock’s favorite target against Michigan State was sophomore Tevaun Smith with six catches for 59 yards. Smith saw a bump in production after junior Kevonte Martin-Manley left the game in the first quarter with a right leg injury. Martin-Manley is the Hawkeyes’ leading receiver with 26 catches.
“Next man in, whoever is up we have to be ready to go,” Rudock said. “If (Martin-Manley) wasn’t in there he wasn’t in. We have to understand who we have in and then let’s go, let’s play full throttle.”
A highlight for the Hawkeyes during a 26-14 Homecoming loss to the Spartans was a six-minute stretch at the end of the first half. During that time, Iowa ran 12 plays, picked up 140 yards with six first downs, scored two touchdowns and took a 14-10 halftime lead.
“We were in the locker room, everyone was excited, jumping up and down,” said UI tight end C.J. Fiedorowocz, whose 10-yard touchdown reception with 1:10 left in the second quarter gave the Hawkeyes a four-point advantage. “I think we just lost it in the second half; we weren’t making the plays that we needed to. As an offense you have to make those big plays to get an offense rolling.”
“It will help throughout the season; now I’m gaining more confidence going against better and better (defensive backs) every week. It is going to help me out for the future.”
UI wide receiver
On the first scoring drive, the big play was a 47-yard touchdown pass from Rudock to running back Damon Bullock. The second scoring drive opened with a 36-yard pass to Smith, who beat the Spartans’ talented cornerback Darqueze Dennard on the play.
“He is an aggressive corner; he bit on the fake I gave him and I was able to get open after that,” Smith said.
“It was a double move and he did a good job running the route,” Rudock said. “The offensive line gave me enough time to get the ball out and he made a good play when I gave him a shot.”
The 36-yard reception and six grabs in a game are both career highs for Smith. He had three catches for 31 yards as a freshman and entered the game Saturday tied for seventh on the team with four catches for 45 yards.
“It will help throughout the season; now I’m gaining more confidence going against better and better (defensive backs) every week,” Smith said. “It is going to help me out for the future.”
In six games, Smith is now fourth among Hawkeyes with 10 catches for 104 yards.
“We miss Kevonte, he averages five catches a game, he is a consistent player and makes big catches when we need them,” Fiedorowicz said. “Tevaun had a great game today. He had that great catch on the sideline that set up a score.”
Smith said it was “different” without the leader of the position group — Martin-Manley — on the sidelines. Ten Hawkeyes caught passes and Martin-Manley did his best to lead from the sideline.
“He was encouraging the whole team and the receivers,” Smith said. “He let us know we have to make plays because our running game wasn’t effective today — we had to make plays in the air.”
Smith added to the Hawkeye big plays. And it hints to more of them in the games ahead.