A nice balance of the run and pass game led to an Iowa victory and a return to the postseason
By Matt Cabel
WEST LAFAYETTE, IN — It’s hard to imagine a more Iowa-styled victory than its 38-14 win at Purdue Saturday afternoon: a balanced attack between the run and passing games amid fumbles, overthrown passes and penalties that ultimately resulted in a win.
“We planned on being balanced,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We knew there was a chance of wind, it’s not uncommon here this time of year. I think that factored into [an emphasis on the run game].”
Kevonte Martin-Manley muffed a punt to give Purdue a start in Iowa territory that set up Purdue’s first visit to the red zone since Sept. 28, and the Boilermakers scored their first touchdown in weeks. The game was tied at 7.
Jake Rudock overthrew a wide open Martin-Manley in the end zone on the ensuing Iowa drive, but found his favorite receiver for a touchdown in double coverage the very next play to give his team a 14-7 lead. Jordan Canzeri, the unlikely running back hero of the last two weeks comes in to rush for career high numbers, and Iowa earned 318 yards rushing to the Boilermaker’s 53.
Rudock, despite playing with a knee brace, found his receivers for multiple big plays through the air. His biggest was a 34 yard completion to Don Shumpert, his only completion of the game. Rudock also connected with Tevaun Smith for a gain of 27 yards. The completions (and incompletions) came at the mercy of the wind, but Ferentz was happy with how his first-year quarterback handled the challenge.
“I’m not sure how much wind, I don’t know what Miami weather is like, but he just seems to handle whatever comes his way pretty adeptly,” Ferentz said.
The redshirt sophomore also connected with tight end George Kittle. He hauled in 3 catches for 37 yards.
The Iowa rushing attack also returned to prominence on Saturday, but not on the heels of Mark Weisman or Damon Bullock.
Since the Nov. 2 matchup against Wisconsin, running back Jordan Canzeri, listed as the third-string back on the depth chart, has come into the mixture for carries and sparked the entire Iowa offense.
The sophomore finished with 165 yards on 20 carries, and one touchdown. It was a career day for Canzeri: he amassed his previous high of 73 yards with a 75 yard outburst on 10 carries in the first half alone. He came into the game with 29 carries for 173 yards on the entire season.
“It’s all in the moment,” Canzeri said about finding holes set up by the offensive line. “You can’t really remember when it happens, but it’s easy when the line blocks great and there’s just green in front. It’s easy once you get through the hole, it’s all about making the cut, making the reads.”
Weisman came back into the game in the third quarter to score his first touchdown since the Western Michigan game on Sept. 21, a four yard carry from the red zone. It seems that Weisman’s place in the Iowa offense is now primarily on third down and red zone situations, something that the running back is willing to accept.
“Whatever the coaches want me to do out there,” Weisman said of his role in the rushing offense. “…whoever has the hot hand is going to play a little more. Whatever it takes for me to help this team, that’s what we all want on this team, especially the running backs.”
Although Rudock said there was no overt plan to find such a balance on offense, Iowa’s 509 yards of total offense speak for themselves.
“Everybody wants to have a good balance,” the quarterback said. “You want your run game to set up the pass, and you want your pass game to set up the run. That just makes it tough on the defense because you’re not sure what they’re going to come with.”