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Weisman carrying the load at record pace

[ 0 ] September 18, 2013 |
Iowa running back Mark Weisman carries the ball during an NCAA college football game between the University of Iowa and Iowa State on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2013, at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa. (Charlie Litchfield/The Register)

Iowa running back Mark Weisman carries the ball during an NCAA college football game between the University of Iowa and Iowa State on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2013, at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa. (Charlie Litchfield/The Register)

IOWA CITY, Ia. Mark Weisman woke up Sunday morning expecting the worst. He was pleasantly surprised.

“I didn’t feel too bad,” Iowa’s workhorse running back said. “I had more bruises than normal, but not more muscle soreness.”

The night before, Weisman carried the ball a career-high 35 times for 145 hard-earned yards in a 27-21 victory at Iowa State. He got hit multiple times on most of those rushes. The first thing Weisman did Sunday followed a weekly routine – jump in an ice bath for 10 to 15 minutes, do some stretching with the training staff and then some running.

“Ice baths, I like them,” said Weisman, whose 85 carries is 10 more than any other player at an Football Bowl Subdivision school through three games. “I can get in an ice bath a lot easier than a hot tub. My body runs on warm, so it’s nice.”

Weisman, who is seventh nationally in rushing at 141.7 yards heading into Saturday’s 11 a.m. contest vs. Western Michigan at Kinnick Stadium, has averaged 28.3 carries in Iowa’s three games. The school record is 26.3 carries by Sedrick Shaw in 1995. Is that a record Weisman would relish?

“As long as we’re winning, that’s all that matters,” Weisman said.

Weisman’s work has caught the eye of Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck, whose team is 113th nationally in rushing defense at 245 yards a game.

“He’s the statue of Iowa football in terms of how hard and how tough (that program) has always been,” Fleck said. “Nothing pretty. But this game isn’t about being pretty. It’s a tough-man’s game.”

The looming question is whether Weisman is durable enough to continue carrying the ball at his current pace.

“I don’t know the answer, and I haven’t taken the time to look,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “John McKay’s quote comes to mind: ‘The ball’s not heavy.’”

After emerging in the third game of the 2012 season and moving from fullback to running back, Weisman had four 100-yard rushing games in a row before ankle and groin injuries knocked him out of two games and limited him to a handful of carries in two others.

Ferentz has coached some other workhorses at Iowa, like Shonn Greene. He averaged 23.6 carries a game while rushing for a school-record 1,850 yards in 2008.

Ferentz remained confident in his three other backs — Damon Bullock, Jordan Canzeri and LeShun Daniels. They’ve combined for 54 carries this season.

“I think it’s really important that we utilize the whole group and really bring them along,” Ferentz said, “so Mark can be at his best the whole season.”

Weisman’s 35 carries against Iowa State were the sixth-most by an Iowa player in a single game.

Ferentz said Weisman’s sterling physical condition has prepared him to take hit after hit.

Weisman said there’s no limit to the punishment his body can take.

“I’m not really concerned,” Weisman said. “When the coaches tell me to go in, that’s when I’ll go in. And we’ll see what happens from there.”
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Weisman doesn’t beat defenders with speed. He’s never been timed in the 40-yard dash at Iowa. He powers his body into defenders at times.

The first five times that Iowa faced third down and 2 yards or less against the Cyclones, Weisman got the ball. He got the first down all five times.

And then, facing third-and-5 on Iowa’s final touchdown drive, Weisman went for 12 yards around the left end.

Iowa State freshman linebacker Luke Knott played it perfectly, hit Weisman behind the first-down marker … and got run over.

“I haven’t really made anyone miss this year,” Weisman said. “Hopefully I’ll do that at some point. But running over people, that’s something I like to do and want to do.”

He hopes for a steady diet of the same against Western Michigan.

“I’m a football player,” Weisman said. “I like being physical out there. I can’t wait for next Saturday.”

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MOST AVERAGE CARRIES PER GAME IN IOWA FOOTBALL HISTORY, SEASON

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28.3 – MARK WEISMAN (2013)

Northern Illinois -20 carries, 100 yards

Missouri State – 30 carries, 180 yards

At Iowa State – 35 carries, 145 yards

Totals – 85 carries, 425 yards (141.7 per game)

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26.3 – SEDRICK SHAW (1995)

Northern Iowa – 20 carries, 102 yards

At Iowa State – 32 carries, 178 yards

New Mexico State – 15 carries, 102 yards

At Michigan State – 42 carries, 250 yards

Indiana – 22 carries, 81 yards

Penn State – 17 carries, 93 yards

At Ohio State – 30 carries, 111 yards

Illinois – 23 carries, 38 yards

At Northwestern – 38 carries, 135 yards

At Wisconsin – 41 carries, 214 yards

Minnesota – 15 carries, 38 yards

Washington (Sun Bowl) – 21 carries, 135 yards

Totals – 316 carries (school record), 1,477 yards

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24.5 – DENNIS MOSLEY (1979)

Indiana – 20 carries, 143 yards

At Oklahoma – 22 carries, 78 yards

Nebraska – 21 carries, 67 yards

Iowa State – 39 carries, 229 yards

At Illinois – 29 carries, 126 yards

At Northwestern – 21 carries, 160 yards

Minnesota – 19 carries, 74 yards

At Wisconsin – 26 carries, 79 yards

Purdue – 21 carries, 88 yards

At Ohio State – 21 carries , 87 yards

Michigan State – 31 carries, 136 yards

Totals – 270 carries, 1,267 yards

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23.6 – SHONN GREENE (2008)

Maine – 22 carries, 109 yards

Florida International – 13 carries, 130 yards

Iowa State – 20 carries, 120 yards

At Pittsburgh – 23 carries, 147 yards

Northwestern – 21 carries, 159 yards

At Michigan State – 30 carries, 157 yards

At Indiana – 23 carries, 115 yards

Wisconsin – 25 carries, 217 yards

At Illinois – 21 carries, 103 yards

Penn State – 28 carries, 117 yards

Purdue – 30 carries, 211 yards

At Minnesota – 22 carries, 144 yards

South Carolina (Outback Bowl) – 29 carries, 121 yards

Totals – 307 carries, 1,850 yards (school record)

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MOST CARRIES, SINGLE GAME

42 – Sedrick Shaw, at Michigan State, 1995 (250 yards)

41 – Sedrick Shaw, at Wisconsin, 1995 (214 yards)

39 – Dennis Mosley, Iowa State, 1979 (229 yards)

38 – Albert Young, at Northwestern, 2005 (202 yards)

36 – Eddie Phillips, Minnesota, 1981 (198 yards)

35 – Mark Weisman, at Iowa State, 2013 (145 yards)

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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