Kelly-Martin, Williams to fill in at running back for Iowa football in Citrus Bowl

The Hawkeyes’ starting halfback, Tyler Goodson, decided to forego Iowa’s bowl game to begin his preparation for the 2022 NFL Draft.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa running back Ivory Kelly-Martin laughs after a question during a press conference for the 2022 Vrbo Citrus Bowl between Iowa and Kentucky at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021. Kelly-Martin was named the starting running back after running back Tyler Goodson opted out to declare for the NFL draft. Kelly-Martin recorded 190 yards during the season.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

ORLANDO, Fla. — Iowa football’s rushing attack will look different than it did during the regular season in this Saturday’s Vrbo Citrus Bowl.

Running back Tyler Goodson will not be with the Hawkeyes in Orlando, Florida, this week. On Dec. 10, the 5-foot-10, 199-pound runner announced he would forego the Citrus Bowl to begin his preparation for the 2022 NFL Draft.

Goodson led Iowa in rush attempts and yards gained on the ground in 2021. He did the same in 2020 and 2019.

Goodson carried the ball 256 times, netting 1,151 yards and six touchdowns this year. He also caught 31 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown.

Even without Goodson, the Hawkeyes want their offensive identity to be centered around their run game.

“I think you measure any football team by how well they run the football, how well they stop the run,” Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz said at a meeting with reporters Wednesday. “. . . Our identity is always going to be based on being physical and being able to run the football.

“At the end of the day, if you’re scoring points, and you have the ability to run the football when it matters, you’re going to have a chance to win football games,” Ferentz added.

The two backs Iowa will turn to in the run game this weekend are senior Ivory Kelly-Martin and redshirt freshman Gavin Williams. Kelly-Martin is listed at the top of the Hawkeyes’ depth chart. Williams is his backup.

Williams and Kelly-Martin both served as backups to Goodson during the regular season. Kelly-Martin was Iowa’s second-string running back until he sustained a foot injury that forced him to miss the Hawkeyes’ last five games of the year, including the 2021 Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Kelly-Martin also dealt with his share of fumbling issues in 2021. The 200-pound back carried the ball 44 times, fumbling on 4 occasions. On average, Kelly-Martin fumbled once every 11 carries in the seven games he played.

Kelly-Martin netted 190 rush yards during the regular season. He also caught five passes for 32 yards.

Williams racked up 49 rushes this year, gaining 207 yards. Additionally, Williams registered seven receptions for 33 yards.

Kelly-Martin played as a true freshman in 2018 and redshirted in 2019. He’s missed games in each of the Hawkeyes’ last two seasons with injuries.

“The thing I’ll always remember about Ivory, when I think about his career, is some of the unselfish things he’s done,” Ferentz said. “You think about some of the plays he’s made on special teams; there’s not enough guys anymore that have that mentality.

“One thing I really respect about Ivory and everything he’s done here, he’s always put the team first,” Ferentz added.

Even in his new and expanded role in the rushing attack Saturday, Kelly-Martin still wants to do what’s best for his team.

“The big thing that’s always pushed me with football has been my bond with my teammates and my relationship with them — the way I interact,” Kelly-Martin said Wednesday. “That’s all shown through on the football field in the way I play. I play for them . . .  I’ve been able to understand the best teams are the teams that are the closest and able to bond with one another and play for one another. Then, we are able to accomplish more on the field through our relationship and the way we are with each other.”

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