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. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Akrum Wadley led the University of Iowa in rushing yesterday, a feat he has accomplished three straight games and five times this season.
But that wasn’t all.
A week after running for 170 yards at Purdue, the versatile junior from Newark, New Jersey, showed off his receiving skills against Wisconsin. He hauled in a career-high seven passes for 72 yards and finished with a team-high 114 all-purpose yards.
It was a solid all-around effort for Wadley, who promises more in the final four regular-season games.
“I feel I can step up and do more to help the team,” Wadley said. “That’s what I want to do. Any area the coach wants me — if it’s catching the ball like a slot receiver, if it’s in motion — anything, I’m willing to step up and I want to step up.”
Everyone in sold-out Kinnick Stadium knew yards and points would be hard to come by against 10th-ranked Wisconsin. The Badgers have allowed eight touchdowns in seven games. Iowa made three trips to the red zone and came away with field goals from freshman Keith Duncan from 41 and 25 yards.
Ironically, Wadley was especially active on the only series where the Hawkeyes came up empty after driving to the Badger 20. He caught passes for 9 and 17 yards, ran for 4 yards, and caught a third pass for 5 yards. The drive stretched from Iowa’s 20 to Wisconsin’s 20 and Wadley accounted for 35 of the 60 yards.
“There was a sense of urgency,” Wadley said. “It’s crazy that at the end of the game we found our rhythm. We needed to do that earlier.”
Iowa sits 5-3 overall, 3-2 in the Big Ten Conference. Wadley leads the team with 636 rushing yards, a 7.1 rushing average, and eight rushing touchdowns. After his big receiving effort against the Badgers, he is third among Hawkeyes with 18 catches for 188 yards and a touchdown.
“We have been working on route-running since camp,” Wadley said. “It so happened that this was the game it opened up.”
His previous high for receptions in a game was three and his previous most receiving yards were 60 against Stanford in the Rose Bowl Game. Only senior receiver Riley McCarron has more catches in a game this season for the Hawkeyes (eight for 78 yards against Northwestern). Injured senior receiver Matt VandeBerg caught seven passes for 129 yards against Iowa State.
Wadley did not play during Iowa’s 10-6 victory at Wisconsin in 2015. The Hawkeyes gained 221 total yards in that win — 15 fewer than they picked up yesterday. Still, Wadley wants the offense to produce closer to the 520 yards it amassed a week ago at Purdue.
“This was a winnable game and it’s frustrating to lose, because we’re better than that,” Wadley said after the 17-9 loss to the Badgers. “There are positives. The defense gave us chance after chance. We need to score touchdowns.”
Wadley and the Hawkeyes will rest next week before turning their attention to Penn State (5-2, 3-1). Iowa makes its first trip to Happy Valley since 2011 when the teams meet Nov. 5 at 6:30 p.m. (CT). Iowa has won nine consecutive road games.
Home or away, you can count on Wadley to produce. In three road games this season, he averages 120 rushing yards per game. He has also caught five passes for 61 yards.