Posted by: marcmwm | September 21, 2008

Color the Hawkeyes Greene

PITTSBURGH — The Iowa Hawkeyes can throw a punch, this much is certain after four games.

Running back Shonn Greene has come out of an academic layoff better than advertised. After 147 yards in Iowa’s 21-20 loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday, Greene has 506 yards rushing on 78 carries, a staggering 6.49 yards a carry.

He is the punch the Hawkeyes (3-1) know they can throw when the Big Ten Conference season starts on Saturday with undefeated Northwestern (4-0) at Kinnick Stadium. The Wildcats are 4-0 for the first time since 1962.

“Shonn Greene has played very well for four straight games now,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “That’s the one thing that’s been consistent so far for us is our ability to run the football.

“Shonn gives us a chance to win every time he steps on the field.”

Can’t argue with that.

While Ferentz felt around for a steady hand at quarterback, Greene trucked over the Panthers.

He gained his 147 yards on 23 carries — a 6.4-yard average. Saturday was his fifth career 100-yard game. He also has a TD in every game this season.

“It’s evident that the strength of our team right now is us running the football,” Ferentz said. “We have a starting point there.”

During a nine-play, 58-yard scoring drive in the second quarter, Greene rushed six times for 52 yards, including a 32-yarder that gave the Hawkeyes a first down at Pitt’s 13. He then ran it in from the 6, one play after taking a vicious shot from Pitt linebacker Scott McKillop.

Greene did miss a play after hurting his elbow while bracing for a landing in the first half. He was back in on the next series with a little tape on his left arm.

“He’ll probably come out of a lot of games,” Ferentz said. “He takes some shots and gets some shots. Guys tackling him are probably going to be coming out a little bit, too.”

Greene likes the way the running game is coming together.

“I think the offensive line, the wide receivers blocking, the fullback,” Greene said. “I think the running game is awesome. We did a good job, we just have to finish.”

The Hawkeyes’ identity seems to be growing around Greene and its defensive line. Iowa allowed just 130 yards rushing Saturday (3.5 yards on 37 carries), when it faced down a rushing attack that included LeSean McCoy, the nation’s top freshman last season.

As far as identities go, a tough running game and nasty defensive line are good places to start.

“We’re trying to be a physical team and I think we have been,” defensive tackle Matt Kroul said. “We’re playing with good emotion and good energy. We need to put together the little things.”

The finish part Greene talked about is the hard part, especially with the machinations at quarterback.

Iowa quarterbacks Jake Christensen and Ricky Stanzi split series in the first half. Stanzi looked crisp, completing his first six passes and finishing the half 7 of 10 for 79 yards.

He might’ve showed some inexperience on his last series. Iowa had the ball with 54 seconds left at its 32. Stanzi threw incomplete on first down, went up the middle for no gain on second down and then threw a sideline completion to tight end Brandon Myers for 7 yards on third-and-8.

Iowa was forced to punt with 17 seconds left. That put the Hawkeyes in a vulnerable spot, punting from their 39 so late in the half, and, apparently, that’s what got Stanzi the hook.

Offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe was clearly unhappy on the ESPN2 telecast. Before the third down play, he was on the sidelines jumping up and down, waving his arms to get Stanzi’s attention.

It was Christensen’s game from there on in, despite a 2-for-6 for 15 yards in the first half.

“We can take this as a blessing or a curse,” Christensen said. “We could get better or we can fold. I think everyone in this locker room knows we’re going to get better from it and we’re going to come back hungry and start the Big Ten.”

This also is for certain, the Hawkeyes’ identity this year won’t dress at a quarterback’s locker.

 

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Responses

  1. A little bit wimpy write up, but I suppose it is smart to not come out with strong opinions as you have to work with this coaching staff.

    Punting from your own 39 because a QB didn’t see KOK change the play is small mistake for a young QB.

    Coming out throwing with when you only need a FG and you have 4 minutes left in the game and your QB is has >50% chance of missing the throw or taking a sack…that is just stupidity. This is from a seasoned offensive coordinator. Perhaps KOK should chew himself out.

    KOK and KF looked like fools.


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