Weisman adds his own flavor to Hawkeye running attack

2013-09-12T17:00:00Z 2013-09-14T07:37:27Z Weisman adds his own flavor to Hawkeye running attackSteve Batterson The Quad-City Times

IOWA CITY — When Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz has his pick of ice cream, he’ll opt for long-time Ben & Jerry’s staple Cherry Garcia.

But as Ferentz knows, there are occasions when there is nothing wrong with a heaping helping of vanilla.

Two games into the 2013 season, the Hawkeye offense has had no shortage of flavor — five-receiver sets, a hurry-up, no-huddle look and the shuffling of running backs and tight ends into a number of receiver slots.

The Iowa look has been varied, but when it was time to win a football game last week, the Hawkeyes favored vanilla and put the ball in the hands of Mark Weisman, sending him through the heart of the defense and daring opponents to bring down the 6-foot, 236-pound back.

Weisman carried the ball 30 times last week against Missouri State and his 180 yards were the most by a Big Ten back during the opening weeks of the season.

The junior is one of five players in the conference who have rushed for at least 100 yards in each of the first two weeks, and Weisman is ready for more.

“Whatever it takes,’’ he said.

This week, he’d settle for one carry if it meant Iowa would end its two-game losing streak to in-state rival Iowa State in Saturday’s 5 p.m. game at Jack Trice Stadium.

Weisman was on the field throughout the Hawkeyes’ 9-6 loss to the Cyclones a year ago at Kinnick Stadium, but didn’t carry the ball once while lining up at fullback.

He did have a 3-yard reception in the game, but later dropped a potential touchdown catch on a 3rd-and-goal play from the ISU 3-yard line in the opening minute of the fourth quarter with Iowa trailing 9-3.

“It was a ball I should have caught,’’ Weisman said. “I was in traffic, but that’s not an excuse. I should have had it. That was one of those plays you see over and over in your sleep, but you have to move on.’’

Weisman did just that the following week, emerging at running back out of necessity when Damon Bullock and Greg Garmon went down with injuries in a win over Northern Iowa.

When healthy in the games since, Weisman has developed into a physical, reliable playmaker.

His game is built on power, making the most of his passion for work in the weight room, and Weisman prefers following the lead of the Hawkeye offensive line to crafting shifty moves of his own.

“We have great linemen here and they’re giving me the room I need to make plays,’’ Weisman said. “I don’t need to make a bunch of cuts and spins and do all of those things. I just play football.’’

Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads appreciates that as he watches Weisman work on tape in preparation for the renewal of the Cy-Hawk rivalry.

“I remember a year ago watching that offensive line, knowing what the future held for them and how strong and powerful they were going to be — and that’s showing up right now — and he benefits from them,’’ Rhoads said. “But, he’s a dang good football player.’’

To prepare for this season, Weisman put himself through conditioning work normally reserved for receivers and other skill players.

The objective was to improve that part of his game while maintaining the physical approach to running back that has made him effective.

“I’m not the fastest guy in the world, but I do take pride in that. As running backs, I think we all take pride in finishing runs,’’ Weisman said. “I’m a big believer in strength and conditioning and how it can give me an edge. I think what happens in the weight room definitely carries over to the field.’’

Despite that, Weisman still feels the impact of every carry on Sunday morning.

“Once I get a run in and get a treatment, things are all right,’’ Weisman said. “It’s part of the deal. Once I’m moving around on Sunday, I’m good to go.’’

One carry or 30, Weisman’s teammates appreciate that.

“When I tell him he’s getting the ball, he’s always like ‘I’m ready,’ ‘Let’s go,’ and he is,’’ quarterback Jake Rudock said. “He’s a tough, tough back.’’

Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz likes the way Weisman runs through defenders rather than around them, shedding would-be tacklers every step of the way.

“He doesn’t back down from anybody. It seems like he breaks a tackle on almost every play,’’ Fiedorowicz said. “The linebackers have to respect that and it opens things up for us in the passing game, in play action. It really helps.’’

Weisman is aware that he doesn’t have to do it alone, although he has carried the ball on half of the 100 run plays Iowa has had in its first two games.

He has shared time in the backfield with Damon Bullock, while Jordan Canzeri and true freshman LeShun Daniels have factored into the running game as well.

Although Weisman has been the Hawkeyes’ workhorse, its depth at the position may prove to be the real strength.

“All four of them are a little different,’’ Ferentz said. “The idea is that things will be dictated by how the game goes, but Mark’s doing a good job, and we’re not surprised by that.’’

Copyright 2015 The Quad-City Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Football schedule

2015 Hawkeyes (0-0)

Date Opponent Time/result
9/5/2015 Illinois State 11 a.m.
9/12/2015 at Iowa State 3:30 p.m.
9/19/2015 Pittsburgh 7 p.m.
9/26/2015 North Texas TBA
10/3/2015 at Wisconsin TBA
10/10/2015 Illinois 11 a.m.
10/17/2015 at Northwestern 11 a.m.
10/31/2015 Maryland TBA
11/7/2015 at Indiana TBA
11/14/2015 Minnesota 7 p.m.
11/21/2015 Purdue TBA
11/27/2015 at Nebraska TBA

Past schedules

2014 Hawkeyes (7-6)

Date Opponent Time/result
8/30/2014 Northern Iowa W 31-23
9/6/2014 Ball State W 17-13
9/13/2014 Iowa State L 20-17
9/20/2014 at Pittsburgh W 24-20
9/27/2014 at Purdue W 24-10
10/11/2014 Indiana W 45-29
10/18/2014 at Maryland L 38-31
11/1/2014 Northwestern W 48-7
11/8/2014 at Minnesota L 51-14
11/15/2014 at Illinois W 30-14
11/22/2014 Wisconsin  L 26-24
11/28/2014 Nebraska L 37-34
1/2/2015 Tennessee L 45-28


Trophy case: Empty

Hawkeyes bowl history

1957 Rose   Oregon State W 35-19
1959 Rose   California W 38-12
1982 Rose   Washington L 28-0
1982 Peach   Tennessee W 28-22
1983 Gator   Florida L 14-6
1984 Freedom   Texas W 55-17
1986 Rose   UCLA L 45-28
1986 Holiday   SDSU W 39-38
1987 Holiday   Wyoming W 20-19
1988 Peach   NC State L 28-23
1991 Rose   Washington L 46-34
1991 Holiday   BYU T 13-13
1993 Alamo   California L 37-3
1995 Sun   Washington W 38-18
1996 Alamo   Texas Tech W 27-0
1997 Sun   Arizona State L 17-7
2001 Alamo   Texas Tech W 19-16
2003 Orange   USC L 38-17
2004 Outback   Florida W 37-17
2005 Capital One LSU W 30-25
2006 Outback   Florida L 31-24
2006 Alamo   Texas L 26-24
2009 Outback   South Carolina W 31-10
2010 Orange   Georgia Tech W 24-14
2010 Insight   Missouri W 27-24
2011 Insight   Oklahoma L 31-14
2014 Outback   LSU L 21-14
2015 TaxSlayer   Tennessee L 45-28