WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Jordan Canzeri made a final sprint across the Ross-Ade Stadium sod Saturday afternoon.
A television reporter wanted to chat with the sophomore tailback following Iowa’s 38-14 win over Purdue.
Canzeri, who rushed for a career-best 165 yards on 20 carries, obliged, then made bee-line for his teammates.
“Being together in the swarm, that’s a team thing,” Canzeri explained. “I definitely didn’t want to be the last one there.”
Canzeri was a pace-setter against the Boilermakers.
His ability to glide through a crease revived the Hawkeyes’ offense, making him a catalyst for a 318-yard rushing performance — Iowa’s best single-game total in a Big Ten Conference game since 2002.
“Last week, it looked like (Canzeri) had a little bit more octane than the other guys,” coach Kirk Ferentz said of his running back corps. “So we gave him a little bit more work than in the past.
“He took it and ran.”
It’s taken Canzeri a while to hit his stride.
A torn ACL kept him off the field in 2012, and a deep backfield resulted in limited opportunities this fall.
His mother, Regina, made sure Canzeri never hit the wall.
“In the moment you might have doubts,” he said. “My mom has kept me strong in faith.
“She’s gone through a lot in her life and always stayed strong.”
Canzeri holds childhood memories of his mother’s battle with Lupus, an auto-immune disease.
“When she was going through a lot of chemo and tests … at one point, a doctor actually told her he was surprised she survived one of the surgeries,” Canzeri recalled. “Just for her to go through that and then tell me to never lose faith, it was an amazing thing.”
A nifty run last week against Wisconsin may have caused Iowa coaches to give Canzeri another look.
He ripped through the Badgers for a 43-yard gain in the third quarter, setting the tone for Saturday’s breakthrough.
“He’s so passionate about the game,” quarterback Jake Rudock said. “He continually works hard to get back out there.
“He just wants to help the team any way he can.”
Canzeri netted 40 yards on his first five carries against Purdue and put the Hawkeyes ahead 7-0 with a 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
“He did a great job of understanding how the offensive line was blocking,” Rudock said. “They did a great job of giving him those holes and creases.”
No Hawkeye rusher had finished with more than 58 yards since a 23-7 victory at Minnesota six weeks ago.
In fact, Iowa was averaging 101 rushing yards as a team the past four games.
“We’re all happy that we had the outcome we did,” Canzeri said. “Each game, we do have our big runs, but we wanted to be more consistent.
“It’s just good encouragement for everybody.”
Canzeri, who had 173 yards through Iowa’s first nine games, averaged 8.3 per rush Saturday, keeping the Boilermakers off balance.
“It’s easy when the line blocks and there’s just green in front,” Canzeri said. “It’s just all about making the cut, making the reads.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football