Banks erases record books
By Steve Batterson
IOWA CITY — Simply the best.
Playing with a purpose, Bettendorf's Tavian Banks put together the greatest day an Iowa running back ever has enjoyed Saturday. The senior ran for a school-record 314 yards as part of a four-touchdown performance that carried the Hawkeyes to a 54-16 rout of Tulsa at Kinnick Stadium.
Following the game, Banks disclosed he had dedicated his effort Saturday to his late uncle Dino Banks. The 30-year old Rock Island resident died a week ago after battling the HIV virus.
"He was a special uncle to me," Banks said. "He used to baby-sit me when I was little. This game was for him."
Dino Banks would have been proud.
Tavian Banks put on a jaw-dropping display of grace and elusiveness.
He sidestepped one tackle.
Juked past two others.
Then it was off to the races, and before he knew it, he had erased the record books.
Not only did Banks top the previous Iowa single-game rushing record of 286 yards established by Ed Podolak in a 1968 game against Northwestern, he also topped the old Kinnick Stadium record of 306 yards, which was set by Northern Illinois' LeShon Johnson in 1993.
Banks broke the record in the same convincing fashion he broke tackle after tackle Saturday.
Needing just one yard to tie Podolak's mark with his 29th carry of the game, Banks picked up 29 before taking the rest of the afternoon off in 18th-ranked Iowa's second rout of the young season.
"I didn't know about the record until late in the game," Banks said. "It's a nice honor and something that I hoped to do, but I'm just the guy who runs behind the offensive line. They're the guys who make the blocks and give me the room to run. Without them, this wouldn't and couldn't happen.
"I'm just running behind my blocks right now. Honestly, that's all that's happening," said Banks, who missed practice last Wednesday to attend his uncle's funeral.
Iowa coach Hayden Fry purposely failed to mention Banks' feat during his postgame remarks until asked.
"His 314 yards speak for themself," Fry said. "It's just the same adjectives that I've used before. He is an extremely gifted athlete, and he's the most agile, graceful, fluid runner I've ever seen. He has got great field vision and acceleration."
Tulsa coach Dave Rader, whose team beat Iowa a year ago and had played the Hawkeyes to pair of games within eight points in two previous trips to Kinnick Stadium, wasn't so quiet after watching Banks dismantle his team's defensive game plan.
"Tavian Banks is better than Sedrick Shaw," Rader said. "That's nothing against Shaw because he was a fine, fine running back. But, Tavian Banks has it all. He's the best I've seen since Barry Sanders."
Banks said he appreciated the compliment, but wondered what all the fuss was about.
After all, the Hawkeyes teamed up for 625 yards of offense Saturday, the second straight week Iowa (2-0) has topped the 600-yard mark.
"Our offensive line has really come together, and that's making everything work," Banks said. "It's neat that he would compare me to Barry Sanders. I just wish I had Barry's money."
If Banks has a few more days like Saturday, that shouldn't be a problem.
Banks had accumulated 222 yards by halftime, already totaling the fifth-best game on the ground ever by an Iowa player.
As in his 203-yard performance a week earlier against Northern Iowa, Banks struck quickly and decisively.
A little over five minutes into the game, he made two strong cuts through traffic and raced 71 yards untouched into the end zone -- and that was only the beginning.
Banks would collect 155 of his yards in the opening quarter — also an Iowa record — as the Hawkeyes pulled away to a 23-0 advantage that proved insurmountable.
Banks accounted for three of those scores, following his 71-yard run with a pair of 14-yard scoring sprints. He added his fourth in the third quarter, extending Iowa's led to 37-16 on a 23-yard touchdown run.
But he had some help.
Matt Sherman threw for 186 yards, and Fry singled out center Derek Rose's ability to dissect Tulsa's defense as important elements in the Hawkeyes' win.
"It was a beautiful day for our offense," Fry said. "Our defense got us field position with (three) turnovers, and our offense did the rest. Derek Rose really played an outstanding game because of all the different sets and stunts Tulsa threw at us. They confused us a bit early, but he really figured things out and allowed us to make some big plays."
The Hawkeyes needed just one play on three of their scoring drives, including on a 35-yard Sherman-to-Tim Dwight pass as time expired in the first half that blew the game open.
"That was a big play at a big time," Fry said. "It opened the (30-10) lead and took a little wind out of their sails."
The Hawkeyes continued to march in the second half, putting up 24 more points to give Iowa a combined 120-16 scoring edge in its two games this season.
"You play sports long enough, and sooner or later you have an afternoon like this. This is the most complete Iowa team we've seen," Rader said. "Sherman is just playing really well right now, and he has control of that offense. Defensively, Iowa is much faster than I remember from last year."
And then there was Banks.
"A couple more games like that, and I'll forget about how much my back hurts," Fry said.
Copyright 1997 by Quad-City Times , All rights Reserved.