Marcus R. Fuller, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn. –
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Gophers knew what it was like to have an Iowa running back run wild on them. It happened last season.
They let it happen again with a different back in this year’s Big Ten opener.
Sophomore walk-on Mark Weisman, who opened the season as the Hawkeyes’ backup fullback, reached the 100-yard rushing mark for the third straight game with 177 yards and a touchdown in Iowa’s 31-13 victory over Minnesota at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 29.
Last season, Iowa tailback Marcus Coker rushed for 253 yards in a 22-21 Minnesota victory at TCF Bank Stadium.
The 230-pound Weisman repeatedly came at the Gophers’ linebackers and secondary full-speed ahead after getting through the line of scrimmage untouched, especially in the first quarter, when he took off on runs of 44 and 27 yards.
Senior linebacker Mike Rallis had the only stop on Weisman for no gain on a third-and-2 play in the third quarter.
“He’s a physical back,” Rallis said. “You’ve got to use good fundamentals. You’ve got to bring it to him if you want bring him down. An arm tackle is not going to do it.”
Iowa ran the ball successfully almost the entire game with an advantage to the left side. Weisman is turning out to be the real deal. He took over after injuries to teammates to rush for 113 yards against Northern Iowa and 217 yards against Central Michigan.
“After one game, you’re kind of like, ‘Hmm, hope I’m seeing it right,’ ” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Then after
two, you start thinking, ‘This guy might not be bad.’ After three games, I think a lot of us are starting to think, ‘Maybe this guy is a running back.’ ”
On Minnesota’s first possession, Max Shortell threw a deep pass to A.J. Barker that was called incomplete even though Iowa’s Tanner Miller made a spectacular sideline catch before falling out of bounds. The play was overturned after a review.
There was more to come.
On a first-quarter punt, the Hawkeyes thought they scored a touchdown after picking up the ball once it touched Gophers freshman safety Damarius Travis. But a review showed that Travis had been pushed. A touchdown run also was taken away from Weisman in the second quarter when he was ruled down just before the goal line after a review.
A review didn’t help Gophers receiver Derrick Engel, who appeared to be in bounds while catching a pass in the second quarter.
The Gophers traveled without quarterback MarQueis Gray (ankle), offensive linemen Tommy Olson (ankle) and Foster Bush (undisclosed) and cornerback Martez Shabazz (toe). Wide receiver Andre McDonald was left off the roster. He had been cleared to practice Wednesday after no issues with his heart were found after a hospital visit the previous week. Safety Brock Vereen (knee) had been listed as questionable, but he played.