Sophomore fullback Mark Weisman rumbled over a lot of smaller defensive backs Saturday to the delight of his teammates and the Kinnick Stadium crowd.
Lost in his 113 rushing yards, in an unexpected relief role, is the fact many times the first player in his way was a safety.
“When you watch the film, we were moving some guys up front,” senior quarterback James Vandenberg said. “We did a really good job opening some gaping holes.
“When you let Mark get a 10-yard head start and then hit a safety or cornerback … I like that advantage for our side.”
The offensive line started the season with two players making their first starts — sophomore Austin Blythe and junior Brett Van Sloten — and Brandon Scherff making his fourth start, but first at left tackle.
“I think they are progressing,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “You know, I think we grew a little bit on Saturday.”
The Hawkeye offensive line gave up six sacks in the opener against Northern Illinois and none since.
But even more important is they held the pocket stronger against UNI than against Iowa State.
“The offensive line is gelling,” senior center James Ferentz said. “I think we’ve been doing that. Guys are more comfortable playing side by side.”
Ferentz, the veteran of the offense with 29 starts under his belt, said the offensive line enjoys watching Weisman do his thing, too.
“Marc deserves a lot of the credit,” James Ferentz said. “He earned a lot of those yards on his own.
“That one swing pass out to him, he really showed he doesn’t need us blocking. He can make his own holes. We don’t want to take too much credit away from Mark.”
The O-line, which also includes Matt Tobin at left guard, will try to build on its 201 rushing yards and zero sacks against Northern Iowa this week against Central Michigan.
“Some guys are working on things that maybe they had not done well or proficiently and it showed up playing better on Saturday,” Ferentz said.
CANZERI CLEARED TO GO: Sophomore running back Jordan Canzeri was in uniform Saturday against Northern Iowa and was medically cleared to play.
But Ferentz said he is not going to put him back in a game until he feels comfortable.
“He’s moving along a lot faster than I would ever have guessed, I’ll say that,” Ferentz said. “It’s just a matter of does he look good enough and is he confident to play.”
Canzeri led Iowa with 58 yards rushing against Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl in his first career start.
When Marcus Coker left in January, Canzeri became the front-runner to be the starting tailback in the spring. Then he tore his ACL during spring practice.
Now, not even six months later, Canzeri has been cleared medically. That is ahead of the curve when it comes to ACL injuries, which can often take nine months or more to get back in playing shape.
“I just didn’t even allow myself to think about it during the course of the summer just because I didn’t think it was realistic,” Ferentz said of Canzeri playing this soon. “I think he’s been cleared now so it’s a matter of when he is ready to play.”
The sophomore is eligible to take a redshirt if he doesn’t play in any games, but Ferentz indicated that was unlikely.
“I don’t think we are going to have that luxury this year based on Saturday,” Ferentz said. “I think whoever can help this team win is going to help.”
ON PACE FOR ZERO: Vandenberg may be many things, but he does have a head for math.
“I’m on pace for zero,” he said Tuesday when asked about his passing touchdowns.
This season Vandenberg and Iowa have not had a passing touchdown after three games. Last year, he threw 25 touchdowns.
“It’s just how its going right now,” Vandenberg said. “We’re taking what they give us. We’ve had some opportunities, but as long as we keep putting points on the board, not a big deal.”
Of the top 100 passers listed by the NCAA, only three have not completed a touchdown pass yet — Vandenberg, UConn’s Chandler Whitmer and Ken State’s Spencer Keith.
“Honestly, I didn’t even think about that until you said that,” junior tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz said. “It’ll come.”
“Its not something I’ve thought about actually,” Vandenberg said. “It’ll happen. If we go 11-1, I throw zero touchdown passes, no one will really care.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football