Iowa’s rushing game is looking to improve against Penn State

The Hawkeyes’ running game production will stem from the offensive line this weekend.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa running back Tyler Goodson carries the ball during a football game between Iowa and Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday, October 5, 2019. The Wolverines celebrated homecoming and defeated the Hawkeyes, 10-3. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Anna Kayser, Sports Editor

After giving up eight sacks for a loss of 65 yards, Iowa’s offense tallied only one rushing yard in 60 minutes of play against Michigan on Oct. 5.

To take down No. 10 Penn State in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, the offensive line, the running backs, and Nate Stanley will all have to command the run game to find the success they saw just two weeks ago against Middle Tennessee. 

Toren Young had the majority of the carries against Michigan with eight, and he gained a team-high 40 yards. Freshman Tyler Goodson, who is now listed on the depth chart as the third running back, posted six carries for 17 yards. 

The mindset, specifically in the running back room, is to get back out there and play football the way they know they can.

“We felt that we did some things that we could have improved on, but the approach doesn’t really change,” Young said. “Just little things, detailed things, small details that they may not seem big, but they’re important things. This week in practice, we’re just going to continue to hit on those things.”

Having Goodson incorporated more into the running back rotation has been helpful in getting Iowa going. 

A true freshman, he brings a familiar style of running back to the Iowa program, one that Akrum Wadley cemented so well in the Iowa football program during his time leading the running game. 

With Goodson showing production and his addition to the depth chart, Ivory Kelly-Martin is no longer listed. Now, Iowa’s four running backs has turned to a main three: Goodson, Young, and Mekhi Sargent. 

“It’s probably tough to rotate four guys, or at least have them do the kinds of things we want them to do,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I think right now, we are probably more focused on those top three and kind of play it week-by-week.”

To get the running game going; however, the offensive line has to be more dominant than it was against Michigan, especially against a tough Penn State defensive line that leads the Big Ten with an average of five sacks per game. 

“It all stems through the offensive line,” Stanley said. “Obviously, I don’t want to run dead plays, so getting into the right play, reading the defense correctly, giving our offensive line that advantage as far as running into good looks.”

Following the Michigan game, the offensive line put the loss on itself and looks to improve this week. With another week of practice for Alaric Jackson and watching tape to see where it can specifically improve, a little more production should be seen in Kinnick this weekend. 

“It starts early,” center Tyler Linderbaum said. “You’ve got to set the tempo, set a pace, and that run game will open a lot of other things up. You’ve just got to start off strong, start fast, and be ready to go.”

Toward the end of the game against Michigan, Stanley was forced to throw the ball more to create big plays. With the offensive line fixing its mistakes and the running game finding a way to roll, that will allow Stanley to do more with the ball and make bigger plays happen, whether it’s on the ground or through the air. 

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