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Three keys to an Iowa victory Saturday

[ 0 ] September 13, 2013 |

Give the man a helping hand

Weisman is averaging 25 carries a game — and 5.6 yards per attempt — but is that too much of a load? “I think we have four backs we feel good about based on practice,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s just things are dictated by how the game goes.”

It makes sense to use Weisman early. The Hawkeyes want to test Iowa State’s run defense, but at some point, someone else going to have to add a little spice to Weisman’s meat-and-potatoes approach. Damon Bullock seems a step slow. Jordan Canzeri is still in recovery mode after ACL surgery. Leshun Daniels made his debut last week and averaged 5 yards on six carries. If help doesn’t come from the backfield, then it’s time for the receivers to gain a little separation.

Remember, Shonn Greene averaged 23.6 carries in 2008, and people thought he was a workhorse. Greene ran over the Cyclones for 120 yards and a touchdown, but it was Brodell’s punt return that broke things open.

Rudock to the rescue?

The early take on Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock is mixed. The sophomore from Weston, Fla., has completed 61.5 percent of his passes for an average of 224.5 yards per game. His predecessor, James Vandenberg, was successful on 57.3 percent of his attempts last season, for 187.4 yards. So, after two games, it’s a statistical upgrade.

If not for a couple of fourth-quarter interceptions, Rudock would be earning rave reviews. A late pick helped Northern Illinois pull off a win in the opener, and another ill-advised pass against Missouri State made the score uncomfortably close.

That could be a deal-breaker if this year’s Big Game matches the nail-biting drama of 2011 and 2012. One solution might be to air it out early. If you don’t trust Rudock to throw deep in the first three quarters, is he really the guy you want running your two-minute offense? Everyone in the stadium is expecting Iowa State to crowd the line of scrimmage, daring Rudock to beat them. It’s up to the Hawkeye coaches to give him the chance.

Arrive in a foul mood

Let’s be honest, this is Iowa State’s party — a sellout crowd and a national television audience. The Hawkeyes are unwelcomed in-laws. And the more ill-mannered they are on defense, the better. In the last six meetings, Iowa has owned a 20-7 turnover advantage. Richardson has thrown 10 touchdowns and just one interception in his young career. So picking him off is the perfect way to spoil the mood.

Of course, Iowa has some issues in its secondary. Opponents are completing a modest 54.9 percent of their passes (39-for-71), but nine of those completions gained 15 or more yards.

“Every deep ball that we’ve given up, it’s all been a technique thing,” safety Tanner Miller said. “It was nothing communication or coverage-wise, anything like that.

“We know everything we’ve seen from the deep-ball perspective is something we can clean up, that we can fix.”

If Iowa shores up its pass coverage, there will be less for Iowa State to celebrate.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 15 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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