Aug. 30, 2014
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- On the University of Iowa's eighth offensive play of the 2014 season, junior quarterback Jake Rudock had already handed off to five different running backs.
When time expired on the Hawkeye's season opening 31-23 victory against Northern Iowa on Aug. 30, seven players carried the ball 34 times for 154 yards. Iowa outgained the Panthers on the ground, 151 yards to 25.
"We like to use a good rotation to keep us all fresh," said sophomore LeShun Daniels, Jr.
Daniels finished with eight carries for 15 yards and a 13-yard touchdown run to begin the scoring. "Whoever starts making plays, none of us are selfish, so it's a good thing for our team."
On Iowa's first series -- a three-play, 41-yard scoring drive -- senior Mark Weisman carried once for two yards and Daniels added the scoring run. On Iowa's second series -- a 10-play, 56-yard drive that stalled on downs at UNI's 19, junior Jordan Canzeri, freshman Jonathan Parker, senior Damon Bullock, Weisman (twice), Daniels, and Rudock had rushing attempts.
"We were going to play it by feel that way," UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "That's something we'll continue to talk about and discuss how we utilize those guys. The biggest difference from a year ago is LeShun Daniels has improved a lot, so he's entered into the fray a little bit. Damon had a good camp, so it'll be ongoing, but we wanted to have fresh backs in the fourth quarter."
"We were going to play it by feel that way. That's something we'll continue to talk about and discuss how we utilize those guys. The biggest difference from a year ago is LeShun Daniels has improved a lot, so he's entered into the fray a little bit. Damon had a good camp, so it'll be ongoing, but we wanted to have fresh backs in the fourth quarter."
UI football coach
"I felt fresh out there, I felt great," Weisman said. "Whenever you're out there, you want to play as hard as you can, as fast as you can, for as long as you can. That's all that really matters; we're all team guys, especially in the running back group. We just want to help the team in any way."
Ironically, the game's leading rusher was a wide receiver. On Iowa's first play of the second half, junior Tevaun Smith ran a reverse for 35 yards to the UNI 22. Two plays later, the Hawkeyes scored a touchdown to take a 24-13 lead.
The final ground tally for the Hawkeyes went like this: Smith (1 carry, 35 yards), Weisman (10-34), Canzeri (7-22), Parker (1-21), Rudock (4-17), Daniels (8-15), Bullock (3-10). While in "victory formation," Iowa was credited with two team ruses for minus-3 yards.
"We have a couple running backs who have done a good job of running the ball," Rudock said. "Weisman looks fresh, I hope we can keep him like that the rest of the year. Canzeri did a good job running the ball, Damon made some big plays coming out of the backfield, and LeShun, too. He's a pretty big kid so he stayed under his pads, which is a good thing."
It was the first career touchdown for Daniels.
"Good for him," said Iowa's Outland Trophy candidate left tackle Brandon Scherff. The senior offensive lineman doesn't look to see which back is in the huddle, he knows they are all capable.
"We're going to do our job and we know whoever they put back there is going to do their job for us, too," Scherff said. "I worry about the play and that's all we have to do."
Don't look for a "who's getting how many carries" controversy in the Hawkeye locker room.
"We're all great friends off the field; we hang out all the time," Daniels said. "That's great for our team because it prevents us from being selfish. We don't have a problem with anyone else making the play."
"You have to be ready for when you get your opportunities out there," Weisman said. "We have a ton of backs that can play football. That's only going to help the team more."
Iowa returns to Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 6 to play Ball State with kickoff scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (CT). The Hawkeyes won their season opener for the 13th time in the last 14 years.