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Ground control

Hawk Talk
Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker James Morris (44) intercepts a pass intended for Iowa State Cyclones running back James White during the first half of their rivalry game Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)

By Don Lund
Sports Writer

The Hawkeyes’ running game was in full gear with Mark Weisman leading the way on the offense. James Morris and B.J. Lowery had big interceptions for the defense. Mike Meyers led the special teams with two field goals but the Hawks had to hold off the a late rally for the second week in a row.
Iowa prevailed over Iowa State Saturday night at Ames, 27-21.
The last three times the Hawks beat the ‘Clones were in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Iowa was 9-4 in 2008, 11-2 in 2009 and 8-5 in 2010 and won all three bowl games.
This week we have to start with the offense.

The OFFENSE

The Hawkeye offense ran over 80 plays for the third week in a row, which has never happened under Kirk Ferentz.
They had 60 rushing attempts which ties the most under Captain Kirk.
Mark Weisman is amazing. He not only carried the ball 35 times for 145 yards (4.1 per carry) but converted four of them for first downs.
“I can’t say enough about him,” said coach Ferentz. “He doesn’t say a word, works hard every day and is such a great example. I don’t care if it’s in season or out of season. Everything he does, it’s the way you hope somebody does and he backs it up on the field. He plays so hard and I’m just happy he’s on our football team and I’m sure happy we tried him at running back about a year ago.”
The thing about Mark is that he will hit the hole and grind out 2 or 3 yards per carry and then bust a tackle or two an wind up with a 15-yard gain.
Add that with Damon Bullock running for 50 yards in 13 carries and you have 195 yards with two ball carriers.
I look for Damon to break off a big run soon because the holes are there and it’s just a matter of time.
When you have the ground game like Iowa had against Iowa State, you can control the clock for 38 minutes in the game. That included 10:24 seconds in the fourth quarter as State had it for only 4:36. In one of the drives in the third quarter, Iowa ran the ball 13 straight times!
Bottom line is the other team can’t score if they don’t have the ball, and Iowa doesn’t turn it over.
That’s pretty simple, but it works.
The nice part about the Hawks this year is they can run right or left.
You have Brandon Scherff and Conor Boffeli on the left side with Andrew Donnal coming in for both.
The right side has Bret Van Sloten and Jordan Walsh with Austin Blythe holding down the center position.
Jake Rudock had a clean game going 14-23 for 160 yards and two touchdowns. He fumbled once but picked up 17 yards rushing.
Jake kept his poise the whole game in a hostile environment.
“I don’t mind telling you I was concerned about that coming over here,” said the coach about Jake. “I thought he handled it well. One thing about him he just seems unfazed about things. Something bad does happen he just keeps coming back.”
For the season Jake is 58-88 (61.4%) for 609 yards. He has three touchdown passes and three interceptions.
Jake found seven different receivers Saturday including Kevonte Martin-Manley, who had seven catches and one touchdown.
Jacob Hillyer caught his first touchdown pass as he broke a tackle on a 10-yard reception and turned it into a 26-yard score.
For the season, 16 Hawkeyes have caught passes. That could come into play if someone gets banged up later in the season.

THE DEFENSE


Once again the defense gave up too many big plays.
Iowa State had three touchdown passes. One for 67 yards, one for 26 and one for 17.
That’s a little concerning and although Iowa only got one sack, the pressure they put on Sam Richardson, the ‘Clone quarterback, forced some bad throws, including the one picked off right before half by James Morris.
The Hawks got three points out of that with Mike Meyer’s 38-yard field goal with only 10 seconds left in the half.
James caught it around midfield and I thought he had a chance to take for a score, but the 20 or so pounds of muscle he has put on since he was a running back at Solon gave the ‘Clones a chance to hold him to a 27 yard return.
Christian Kirksey led Iowa with 11 tackles. Anthony Hitchens had 10 and how about B.J. Lowery’s interception?
B.J. was about as high as he could get when he grabbed it out of midair with his right hand. Then he secured it and stopped an Iowa State drive in the fourth quarter.
It was voted the fourth best play of the day on ESPN Sunday.
The front seven for the Hawks gave up only 59 rushing yards on 24 carries (2.5 yards per carry).
Iowa gave up 260 yards passing including the three touchdown passes… not good.

SPECIAL TEAMS


Mike Meyer’s two field goals in the first quarter were the difference in the game.
Mike had two touchbacks on six kickoffs and Jordan Cotton had one kickoff return for 28 yards.
Connor Kornbrath did a little better with a 39.7 average punting. He got off a 54-yard punt which really helped.
It was disappointing to see the ‘Clones recover an onside kick against the Hawks.
Ray Hamilton did recover the second attempt.
Iowa State is not as good as they have been, but they always play with a lot of emotion, so it was a good win and Iowa takes the Cy-Hawk trophy back where it belongs.
I also think it helped that Iowa played last week and Iowa State had a bye.
Iowa looked sharper early on and kept it going for most of the game.
The Hawks host Western Michigan this Saturday. They lost to Northwestern last Saturday at Evanston, 38-17.
The Wildcats rushed for 332 yards on 55 carries. That’s a little over 6 yards per carry.
It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the Hawkeyes kept their ground game going.
It would be nice to see some longer passes, but a win is the most important thing.