The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa wins big against Western Michigan on the heels of backup running backs

The Hawkeyes ran for over 250 yards in a 41-10 win at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, their most in a game since 2019.
Iowa+running+back+Max+White+and+his+teammates+celebrate+White%E2%80%99s+touchdown+during+a+football+game+between+Iowa+and+Western+Michigan+at+Kinnick+Stadium+in+Iowa+City+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+16%2C+2023.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Broncos%2C+41-10.+White+rushed+the+ball+three+yards+and+a+touchdown.
Grace Smith
Iowa running back Max White and his teammates celebrate White’s touchdown during a football game between Iowa and Western Michigan at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Broncos, 41-10. White rushed the ball three yards and a touchdown.

The Iowa Hawkeyes Football program has historically been referred to as “tight-end university” for its success at that particular position group, but after Iowa’s 41-10 Week 3 win against Western Michigan, some players are calling for a different name.

“I say it all the time that it’s running back [university],” true freshman running back Kamari Moulton said in his postgame media availability. 

Moulton was one of the five running backs who collectively rushed for 254 yards against the Broncos, the most rushing yards for the Hawkeyes since 2019. 

Iowa’s 41 points were the most scored since the Hawkeyes’ 51-14 win over Maryland in Oct. 2021.

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Leshon Williams led all Hawkeyes with 145 yards on 12 carries, including a 53-yard dash that pushed Iowa into the red zone. Williams got the starting nod for the Hawkeyes after starting running back Kaleb Johnson was ruled inactive before the contest due to an ankle injury. 

According to Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, Johnson hurt his ankle late in Iowa’s Week 2 matchup at Iowa State, adding that the sophomore will be day-to-day next week.

In addition, backup running back Jaziun Patterson, who rushed for 86 yards against the Cyclones, was also limited Saturday. Ferentz said the Florida native was dealing with an ankle injury heading into the game but “tweaked it a little more” during the contest. He said that the injury wasn’t “significant” but would know more in the coming days. 

Even with two regular running backs stranded on the sidelines, Williams had no doubt that those lower on the depth chart would seize the chance to get on the field. 

“We got a lot of running backs, as you can see, and we got a lot of talent,” Williams said.”We all know that it’s the next man up so if anything happens, we got to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Hawkeye tackle Mason Richman said the success in the run game led to further scoring opportunities.

“It opens up everything for the passing game and play action,” Richman said. “All of [the running backs] stepped up and did a great job without Kaleb today. I think he’ll be back here soon, so we got an army of guys back there now.” 

Moulton, who recorded his first-ever carries as a Hawkeye, rushed for 50 yards on eight carries, notching two touchdowns from within the red zone. 

“[Moulton] is a stud. Two touchdowns is not regular for a freshman,” Williams said. 

The two scores in a single game by an Iowa true freshman in their debut hasn’t been accomplished since 2008. 

Even if the running back depth chart might be deep with talent, Moulton said the mood around the RB room is that there’s enough carries for all to succeed. 

“We’re all close-knit, and [everybody] is just proud of what we can do,” he said. 

Sophomore running back Max White also rushed for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to put the Hawkeyes’ points at 41. Richman said it was special for the team to see the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native score given his effort helping out the scout team during practice. 

“Max is a workhorse…He’s not exactly one or two on the depth chart, but for him to get in the endzone just means a lot to this team,” Richman said. 

Coming into this game, the Hawkeyes had run for 200 yards combined in their previous games against Utah State and Iowa State. Williams said he anticipates the run game to continue to improve.

“It just shows how hard we work at practice and our preparation,” he said. “I’m 100 percent sure that each week we’re going to continue to deliver.” 

If Iowa wants to find success in Week 4 on the road at Penn State, they’ll have to keep the momentum in the run game going. The Nittany Lions have allowed just 144 rushing yards over the past two games, most recently yielding just 62 yards to Illinois on Saturday. 

“We handled business today, and we got a big challenge next week, so we got to get back to work,” Williams said.

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About the Contributors
Cooper Worth, Pregame reporter
(he/him/his)
Cooper Worth is a Pregame Reporter for The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication. He is also earning a minor in communication studies and an entrepreneurial management certificate. This is his third year at the DI, previously serving as a News Editor and as a News Reporter covering local government in Johnson County for the DI. Cooper interned for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa during the summer of 2023 as a general news reporter.
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
she/her/hers
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.