Returning to the Ground

Oct. 18, 2013

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — After rushing for a season-low 23 yards Oct. 5 against Michigan State, the University of Iowa offense isn’t ready to throw up the white flag on the rushing attack heading into Saturday’s game at No. 3/4 Ohio State.

“It’s one game, and we can’t let that game deter us,” said junior running back Mark Weisman. “We have to continue to try to execute in the pass and run game and let them feed off each other. We’ll see where it takes us.”

The Iowa offense was rolling and balanced through the first five weeks of the season, averaging nearly 450 yards of total offense. Then came the Spartans and their top-ranked defense, who took away the run and held the Hawkeyes to a season-low 264 yards of total offense.

“You’re not going to do exactly what you want to do (every game),” said redshirt sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock. “We want to establish the run, and unfortunately, we didn’t do that two weeks ago.

“It’s one game, and we can’t let that game deter us. We have to continue to try to execute in the pass and run game and let them feed off each other. We’ll see where it takes us.”
UI junior Mark Weisman

“You want to have a good balance so the defense is unsure what you’re going to throw at them. It’s good to be able to mix it up and keep them guessing.”

The Hawkeyes will face another stout run defense in Columbus, Ohio, squaring off against a Buckeye unit that rates as the Big Ten’s second-ranked unit. Ohio State surrenders 86.2 yards on the ground — sixth-best nationally — and has yet to give up a run of 20 or more yards this season.

Iowa wants to get back to what worked the first five weeks; controlling the line of scrimmage and running downhill.

“That’s what we want to do,” said junior offensive lineman Andrew Donnal. “That’s our thing, we want to run the ball. That’s not always going to work out. You have to adapt to whatever type of game it is going to be, and if we’re going to have to pass the ball a lot, we’ll be ready to do that.”

The Hawkeyes know Saturday’s tilt at Ohio Stadium is going to be a tall task with the Buckeyes being a top-five ranked team riding an 18-game winning streak. They can’t let that consume them.

“It’s going to be a great challenge, no matter who it is,” said Donnal, who grew up in Montclova, Ohio. “Whether it’s Ohio State or the Chicago Bears, it’s a great challenge. That’s what we want. We come here to play in these huge games, and we’re excited about that.”

Rudock says the Hawkeyes can’t get caught up in the hoopla surrounding the Buckeyes. They have to play their game and be ready to take a punch in a hostile road environment.

“We have to be focused on the game and not look at that little number (the rankings) before the name,” said Rudock. “There’s a reason teams get that is because they’re good. We can’t look at that. We’ll have our hands full and hopefully play as well as we can.”

Saturday’s game is set to begin at 2:36 p.m. (CT) in 102,329-seat Ohio Stadium. The game will be televised on ABC, with a reverse mirror on ESPN2, with Bob Wischusen, Rod Gilmore and Quint Kessenich calling the action.