Oct. 4, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Junior running back Mark Weisman knows the University of Iowa offense is in for a tough, physical, grind-it-out game Saturday against Michigan State, and they have to stay the course.
"We're going to have to grind it out," said Weisman, who has 615 yards on 119 carries in five games this season. "It is going to be a physical game, but you have to grind, be mentally tough and determined."
The Spartans enter the Big Ten contest leading the country in total defense, surrendering 188.8 yards per game. Michigan State also boasts the top pass defense (130.5 ypg.) in the NCAA and has the second-best run defense (58.2 ypg.) nationally.
"Watching film, you can tell they're good," said sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock. "Plain and simple, they know how to get to the ball. Their front four do a great job, their linebackers fill really hard, and the back four cover very well. We'll have our hands full."
The Spartans have seven defensive starters returning from a unit that limited the Hawkeyes to 257 yards of total offense in Iowa's 19-16 double overtime victory on Oct. 13, 2012, in East Lansing.
Michigan State allowed 123 yards on the ground and 134 through the air. Iowa committed one turnover and was forced into punting on eight of its 12 possessions during regulation.
Weisman was the workhorse for the Hawkeye offense, finishing with 116 rushing yards on 26 carries, but he worked for every inch. He'll need to do the same Saturday.
"It was a tough game," said Weisman. "The run wasn't working for a while, but then we broke a couple in the fourth quarter. It was a battle, and it's going to be another battle this game too."
After rushing for 6 yards on his first carry last October, nine of Weisman's next 10 carries resulted in a gain of three yards or less. He finished with 17 such rushes in the game. On his 12th carry, Weisman gained 8-yards and on his 16th carry, he scampered for a 31-yard gain. His 24th carry resulted in a 37-yard gain to set up a 5-yard touchdown run to tie the game on his final attempt.
"There are going to be negative plays, one, two-yard gains, but eventually we'll break one," said Weisman.
Junior offensive tackle Brandon Scherff says the offensive line needs to prove itself at the line of scrimmage with its physicality.
"We have to come out and try to be the most physical unit on the field and play a full 60 (minutes)," said Scherff. "They're going to come in and give us their best shot, and we're going to give them ours.
"It's a big challenge. They're a big, physical unit, and we're looking forward to that. That's Big Ten football."
Saturday's game is slated to begin at 11:01 a.m. (CT) and be televised live on ESPN2 with Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway, and Paul Carcaterra calling the action. An estimated 1,800 tickets are still available and can be purchased at hawkeyesports.com or by calling 1-800-IAHAWKS.