IOWA CITY, Ia. – Sometimes, Iowa football fans, vanilla is the best option.
When the Hawkeyes host Western Michigan at 11 a.m. Saturday, the menu doesn’t need much variety.
A healthy dose of Mark Weisman will do.
“Mark does a great job of getting yards even after he gets hit,” Iowa center Austin Blythe said. “That’s the kind of personality he’s got. He doesn’t care who hits him. He’s going to do his best to get those yards.”
Weisman’s bold running is exactly what the Hawkeyes want against an opponent ranked 113th nationally in rushing defense that allows 245 yards per game.
The last thing coach Kirk Ferentz and his staff should do is overthink this. It’s OK if the game plan seems a little bland, but make sure you bury the Broncos.
Bowl hopes could be on the line, and perhaps a first glance at backup quarterback C.J. Beathard.
Iowa ran the ball a season-high 60 times for 218 yards in last week’s 27-21 win at Iowa State, and an identity was forged.
Just feed Weisman the ball, and mix in a couple of tosses to Kevonte Martin-Manley.
No need to sugarcoat.
“It speaks to the way we play the game, physical and tough,” Blythe said. “Running it 60 times means it’s working, we’re doing our job.”
The Hawkeyes rank eighth nationally in time of possession, averaging 35 minutes, 40 seconds per game. They held the ball for 38:03 against the Cyclones.
And it could have been longer.
“We had the opportunity to get another first down in the Iowa State game, seal the deal,” right tackle Brett Van Sloten said. “And we didn’t get that done.
“When you look at things like that, you know we have to improve in those areas.”
This is another chance for progress, to maintain a swagger, to go to 3-1 — halfway to bowl eligibility.
Some have soured on Ferentz’s penchant for vanilla play calling, but doing anything else against Western Michigan would be silly.
Save the razzle-dazzle for next week’s Big Ten Conference opener at Minnesota.
Who: Western Michigan (0-3) at Iowa (2-1)
Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City
Time/TV: 11 a.m., Big Ten Network
Notable: Western Michigan has won the only two games in the all-time series — 28-19 in 2007 and 27-21 in 2000, both in Iowa City. Iowa and Michigan State are the only two Big Ten teams the Broncos have defeated twice. But they haven’t beaten Michigan State since 1919.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football