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Iowa hopes to strike better balance vs. Ohio State

[ 0 ] October 15, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The blueprint for stuffing Iowa’s offense was laid out two weeks ago by Michigan State.

And you can bet Ohio State took notice.

“They’re fast,” Hawkeyes quarterback Jake Rudock said of the Buckeyes. “We’ll definitely have our hands full, but they do a good job swarming to the ball.

“We’ll have to have a good week of preparation.”

Iowa (4-2) visits fourth-ranked Ohio State (6-0) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The game will be televised on ABC.

Jake Rudock, center, Mark Weisman, right, and the Iowa offense had a tough time getting the running game going last week against Michigan State. (Register file photo)

Jake Rudock, center, Mark Weisman, right, and the Iowa offense had a tough time getting the running game going last week against Michigan State. (Register file photo)

It will be the Hawkeyes’ first game since a 26-14 loss to Michigan State on Oct. 5, when they were held to a season-low 23 rushing yards.

“Another good defense, another tough test,” Iowa running back Mark Weisman said. “We’ve got to come ready to play, definitely.”

The Spartans crowded the line of scrimmage, leaving their cornerbacks matched up one-on-one against Iowa’s receivers.

It was an aggressive approach that threw the Hawkeyes off kilter. They averaged 1.4 yards per carry — after running at a 4.6 clip through their first five games – prompting offensive coordinator Greg Davis to call more passing plays.

“It’s one of those deals,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s not fun when you can’t be balanced.”

Rudock was 10-of-10 passing on two touchdown drives, helping Iowa take a 14-10 halftime lead.

But the Hawkeyes lost part of their identity, and a little of their swagger.

“It’s one game,” Weisman said. “You can’t let that game deter us at all.

“We’ve just got to continue to try and execute in the pass and run game, have them feed off each other and see where that takes us.”

Before facing Michigan State, the Hawkeyes were running the ball 66.8 percent of the time. They had 16 rushes and 46 passes against the Spartans.

“Each game is a little different. You may have to throw more or run more,” Rudock said. “But you always want to be able to have a good balance.

“That way, the defense is kind of unsure what you’re going to throw at them.”

The Buckeyes are allowing just 86.2 rushing yards per game — sixth-lowest nationally — with only California and Wisconsin breaking the century mark.

The Bears and Badgers combined to average 3.7 yards per carry.

“We have to worry about us,” Weisman said. “We’ve just got to worry about improving, getting better and then be ready for a tough task.”

The Buckeyes have not allowed a run of 20 or more yards this season. They’ve also prevented any individual from rushing for 100 in a game.

If Ohio State creeps toward the line of scrimmage, it’s up to receivers to get some sort of separation.

“That’s something we definitely need to step up on,” Hawkeye receiver Tevaun Smith said. “I think we’re still going to run the ball, but we’re going to try and do a little bit of both, give everybody a chance to make some plays.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 19 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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