Iowa running backs post career numbers against Mid Tennessee

The Hawkeyes broke out for 351 rushing yards in their dominate defeat of Middle Tennessee

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Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa running back Tyler Goodson hurdles MTSU’s Gregory Grate, Jr. during a football game between Iowa and Middle Tennessee State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 28, 2019.

Anna Kayser, Sports Editor

On a historic day in Kinnick Stadium in which the offense put on its greatest measurable performance in Kirk Ferentz’s tenure as head coach, the Iowa running backs didn’t just sit back and watch.

Mekhi Sargent had 91 yards. Freshman Tyler Goodson galloped for 97. But as the Iowa running-back rotation goes, this was neither of their weeks to shine even with 90-plus yards.

Toren Young’s 131 rushing yards, including a breakout 52-yarder in which he only had to break one or two tackles to be wide open at the end zone run, set a career-high in the first 100-plus yard game of his career. His 50-yard run was the longest by a Hawkeye since the 2017 season.

Iowa’s 351 total rushing yards was its most since Oct. 15, 2016, against Purdue, when it posted 365.

Prior to this outbreak by the three running backs, Sargent was the only one to rush for 90-plus yards this season, doing so once, against Miami (Ohio).

“It’s definitely a confidence booster to get that many guys in and be able to perform at that level,” Young said. “It definitely felt good, but there’s a lot we can build on. I think there were some yards we left out there and more yards we could get, so we’re going to get on film and focus on doing better and getting that hidden yardage.”

Young was quick to admit he should have broken tackles in at least two of his runs to get more yards and potentially go for the score.

“I definitely should have,” he said. “I’ve got to pick the knees up.”

It was also a career-day for Goodson, whose 97 yards on 12 carries marked two career-highs, the yards and the other coming on a 27-yard burst.

So far this season, he’s been compared with Akrum Wadley by LeShun Daniels Jr. on Twitter and described as a “human joystick” by his teammates, mainly wide receiver Brandon Smith.

It speaks on his running style, the way he cuts around defenders and is able to make things happen. He almost made the big thing happen — his first rushing touchdown — but fell just short of the goal line.

“He’s a special player. He’s young, he’s very physical, very electric,” Sargent said. “The sky’s the limit for him. He’s a smart football player.”

Having numerous running backs who can create different plays and break out for close to 100 yards isn’t a problem that Iowa will rue anytime soon.

“It’s unusual. I don’t know that we’ve ever been in that situation,” Ferentz said. “We have confidence in all four of the backs. The older three guys we know very well. We came into August part of practice really feeling good about those three players, but now Tyler is an addition. We thought he was a good prospect coming out of high school, but you know, everything he’s done here he just seems unfazed by it, just acts like he belongs.”

Going into a major Big Ten matchup in Ann Arbor, Michigan, next weekend, this type of game from the running backs — especially coming off of the bye week — shows how versatile the team is.

“We have a special group of backs that have felt like we just have to keep our foot on the throttle, keep practicing hard, and good things will come,” Sargent said.

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