Nov. 25, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — On a day celebrating the seniors, half of the two-headed sophomore beast known as the University of Iowa fullback came up big.
Specifically on the final two plays of a nine-play, 60-yard scoring drive that tied the score with Michigan, 21-21, in a football game eventually won by the Hawkeyes on Nov. 23.
The two-headed fullback beast is an interchangeable duo of Adam Cox and Macon Plewa. In this game, on this drive, it was Cox’s turn to shine. On first-and-10 from the Wolverine 20 — and after four straight rush attempts — UI quarterback Jake Rudock rolled to his right, simulating a fifth run in a row. Rudock stopped, looked left, and completed a pass to Cox, who went 11 yards.
“I knew there was a good chance I would get the ball coming off the back side,” Cox said. “We ran a little fake run the other way and I saw the ball coming.”
On the next snap — and without the ball — Cox ran past the line of scrimmage between the right guard and tackle and delivered a crushing block on Michigan linebacker Ben Gedeon. Running back Mark Weisman followed through the hole and ran over Raymon Taylor into the endzone for a touchdown.
“That is more my specialty, rather than catching the ball. That’s a little more fun to knock someone out of the way and watch Mark run somebody over, too. That’s pretty exciting stuff.”
“That is more my specialty, rather than catching the ball,” Cox said. “That’s a little more fun to knock someone out of the way and watch Mark run somebody over, too. That’s pretty exciting stuff.”
How similar are Cox and Plewa? Here are their statistics after 11 games: Cox has two rushes for nine yards, Plewa has one carry for seven yards. Both have three pass receptions — Cox for 51 yards, Plewa for 21.
“A year ago they were on the scout team playing defense,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “They are good guys to have on the team and they have done such a good job. Fullback is one of those positions that nobody cares about too much, but we sure do.”
Iowa heads into its Black Friday game at Nebraska with a record of 7-4 overall, 4-3 in the Big Ten Conference. The Hawkeyes have won three of their last four games and feature a running game that ranks fifth in the conference with 191.5 yards a game. This season, Weisman, Damon Bullock, and Jordan Canzeri have combined to rush for 1,720 yards and eight touchdowns.
“It is rewarding watching Mark, Damon, and Jordan run when they are running hard, putting their head in there and running like they did (against Michigan),” Cox said. “It’s exciting to be blocking, too, it’s just like running.”
The Hawkeyes gained 168 yards on the ground against Michigan’s defense that entered the game allowing 132.7 yards per game and 3.2 yards per rush.
Not many fans notice the grunt work of Iowa’s fullback. That’s OK with Cox — a word of encouragement from his backfield mates is all he needs for motivation.
“I like hearing it from the running backs,” Cox said. “When they give you a compliment I feel really good about myself. They’re the ones using the blocks and if I can help them gain yards, that’s good.”
Iowa and Nebraska are scheduled for an 11 a.m. (CT) kickoff Friday, Nov. 29. The game is televised on ABC.