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Weisman flourishing as fullbacks fall out of fashion

[ 0 ] December 28, 2013 |

TAMPA, Fla. – In an age when fullbacks are fading, Mark Weisman is flourishing.

Spread offenses and multiple-receiver sets may be all the rage, but brute force will always play a role in Iowa’s approach.

“It hasn’t gone away, yet,” Weisman said. “And I think it’s going to continue to stay.”

The Hawkeyes will meet another team that prides itself on power running Wednesday in the Outback Bowl.

Louisiana State features two fullbacks, J.C. Copeland and Connor Neighbors, who pave the way for a rushing attack averaging 200.8 yards per game.

“You’ve got to be a man to play this position,” Copeland said. “You’ve got to be unselfish, because there’s not a lot of plays for us.

“You’ve got to go in there and make sure you block for your teammates, make sure they can do what they’ve got to do.”

Weisman, a fullback who walked on, then emerged last season as an effective option at tailback, has rushed for 938 yards this season — leaving him 62 short of the 1,000 plateau.

“I think it says a ton about the way he approaches the game,” second-year Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis said.

Davis went to talk about how Weisman volunteers to be the blocking back, if injuries put Iowa in a bind.

The only problem is, more snaps translates to more collisions. Weisman carried 85 times in Iowa’s first three games; he carried only 82 in the next seven as he battled nagging injuries.

“Mark is one of those guys you’ve got to like,” Davis said. “He’s stayed healthy this year for the most part, and I think we’ve been a little bit smarter with him, too.

“Because his style is not going to change.”

Mark Weisman receives a handoff from quarterback Jake Rudock during Saturday's Outback Bowl practice. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Register)

Mark Weisman receives a handoff from quarterback Jake Rudock during Saturday’s Outback Bowl practice. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Register)

The 6-foot, 236-pound Weisman is now nearly 100 percent. “As close as you can be,” he said.

A bruising runner might not fit with Baylor, or any number of trendy, three-step-drop, quick-release, pass-oriented systems.

LSU, however, thrives when having multiple fullbacks.

“If he’s also a ball carrier and a receiver and a blocker, he can be used in traditional sets to give you some advantages,” Tigers coach Les Miles said.

Copeland and Neighbors get limited opportunities to show their skills, but Weisman is a featured ball carrier for the Hawkeyes.

“He’s a great, big physical back, whether he’s carrying it or not,” Miles said of Weisman. “Very talented guy.”

Weisman shrugs off talk about his individual success, but doesn’t mind extolling the virtues of his position, especially late in games.

“There is always going to be that grind-it period,” Weisman said. “You’ve got to close out games, and it’s harder to do in the air.

“Because if you don’t complete that pass, the clock stops.”

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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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