Posted by: marcmwm | November 15, 2008

It’s not easy beating Greene . . .

Don’t know who came up with it, but that’s an excellent headline.

It’s not easy beating Greene

It’s not easy beating Greene

By Marc Morehouse

(Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa’s Shonn Greene fends off Brandon King of Purdue during a fourth-quarter run Saturday at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. Iowa won, 22-17, as Greene ran for 211 yards and two touchdowns.

IOWA CITY — Here lies Frank Duong.

He was a good kid. Lived a good life. All he wanted to do for the Purdue Boilermakers was play a little football.

He leaves a jersey, a helmet and some snot bubbles.

Who was Frank Duong? He was the Purdue safety Shonn Greene turned into an NFL audition tape.

Greene picked up the Hawkeyes and carried them into the end zone twice, and that was just enough in Iowa’s gritty, gutty, grubby 22-17 victory over Purdue before 67,676 fans Saturday at Kinnick Stadium, which officially ended Iowa’s streak of 37 straight sellouts. The Hawkeyes gutted it out in front of scouts from five bowls — Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Champs Sports and Insight.

To be fair to Frank Duong, he’s one of the many players Greene has posterized this year. Duong goes in line with the entire Wisconsin defense and a whole bunch more.

On his 75-yard touchdown, Greene put a spin move on Duong and left him grasping the chilly north wind that again whipped through Kinnick. But give Duong credit, he didn’t go away. On Greene’s 14-yarder that sealed the Hawkeyes’ victory, Duong, all 5-foot-8, 178 pounds of him, met Greene in the hole. Greene, the 235-pound runaway appliance, bounced off and scored. Duong stayed on the turf and took inventory.

“He was flying down all game, so I had to give him something, try to slow him down a little bit,” said Greene, who finished with 211 yards on 30 carries.

Frank Duong, he gave his all for Purdue (3-8, 1-6 Big Ten). Let’s remember fondly the walk-on who’s more of a track guy.

“I wouldn’t go up and hit Shonn like that, I get out of his way,” Iowa linebacker Pat Angerer said. “I think it’s tough, especially having to walk back in the huddle and look your teammates in the eyes. Probably sucks pretty bad.”

As much damage as Greene did for Iowa (7-4, 4-3), the Boilers still had a shot. It wasn’t over until quarterback Curtis Painter’s last-gasp bomb from Iowa’s 27-yard line sailed through the end zone and onto the turf and in front of Iowa’s marching band.

Remember, this was gritty, gutty, grubby. It was another bad-weather game, limiting Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi to eight completions and just 72 yards. It was after last week’s monumental upset of No. 3 Penn State. It was even the same end zone that Daniel Murray popped his 31-yard field goal through to beat the Nittany Lions last week.

This was suck-it-up city.

“You just hold your breath on plays like that,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Only good thing was they only got one shot. Until it’s over, you can’t relax, but when it hit the ground, I felt very good about things.”

Greene was one of the last Hawkeyes off the field. He exited to chants of “one more year.”

Officially, Greene is a junior. Chronologically, he is a fifth-year senior. He has a year of eligibility left, but he will turn 24 before next season starts. And he has a resume with 11 straight 100-yard games, 1,585 yards on 256 carries and 15 rushing touchdowns.

“Obviously, the program would like to have him back,” said senior receiver Andy Brodell, who caught four passes for 42 yards. “But the way he’s playing, he’s probably got options.”

The “will he stay, will he go” discussion is a little premature. Greene wouldn’t tip his hand.

“I don’t … I’m not thinking about that right now,” Greene said. “I’m trying to get to a better bowl game.”

Greene said he hasn’t heard from agents, but he has heard from students.

“Yeah, they’re like you guys (reporters),” he said. “I tell them the same thing. I just want to finish out this year.”

Frank Duong was nowhere to be found, but Purdue cornerback Brandon King votes NFL. Luckily for you Iowa fans, this isn’t entirely up to the opponents. But if Greene needs help packing, Frank Duong and the Wisconsin defense would volunteer.

“(Greene) doesn’t say anything,” King said. “He’s the first running back I’ve been around on the field who keeps his mouthpiece in. He doesn’t say anything. He just ran really, really hard and just prides himself in running guys over, like he does.”

The only thing Greene didn’t do Saturday was close out the Boilers. With fourth-and-1 at Purdue’s 20 with 1:09 left in the game, Torri Williams and Chris Carlino combined to stop Greene for no gain and give the Boilers one last chance. Painter made the most of it.

In just four series Saturday, Painter completed 24 of 30 for 190 yards, two TDs and a tip-drill interception that defensive end Broderick Binns bumped and set for Angerer at Iowa’s 4 with 7:11 left and Iowa hanging onto a 22-10 lead.

Painter completed three straight before defensive tackle Mitch King made a fifth-year senior, four-year starter play, sacking Painter and forcing Purdue to call its last timeout with 32 seconds left.

“I knew if we got a pressure or a sack, it was going to take two or three plays off their drive,” said King, who shed his “Mighty Thor” blond locks for a brush cut this week. “It was going to wind down the clock. I’m just glad I’m the one who did it.”

King helped end it. Fittingly, Iowa’s emotional senior leader came up big right on cue.

It was the only poetry to be found on a gritty, grubby, gutty day



  1. Amazing. I am out of superlatives for this kid until he goes to Minnesota.

    He’s definietly going to NY, winning the Doak Walker, first team AA and may win the silver football or whatever the Trib gives the BT MVP if he has his usual game next Saturday.

    Poor Frank Duong, kid never knew what spun away from him or crushed him late, wow.

    Thanks Shonn. 2008 has been a lot of fun.

    Best Iowa RB in my lifetime, hands down.

  2. I don’t think anyone expects Greene to win the Heisman (that would happen only if Iowa were a top 10 team), but he’s certainly earned a trip to New York. Before this game, I expected it to be a “give the ball to Greene and grind out a win” kind of game. Condsidering Purdue probably expected the same thing, getting over 200 yards was quite an accomplishment.

  3. I think Hawk fans may be grasping at straws to somehow save a very disappointing season by all the Greene for Heisman talk. Shonn has saved the Hawkeyes season with a huge year, but he’s a longshot to get to NY and has no chance to win the Heisman Trophy.

    He’s barely leading an average conference in rushing (on a 7-4 team, which doesn’t help). Iowa has played a soft schedule with only two teams ranking in the Sagarin top 30.

    Tim Tebow, Graham Harrell, Michael Crabtree are practically shoe-ins for NY, with Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy likely candidates also. Don’t count out Javon Ringer with a huge TV audience against Penn St this weekend, while Iowa plays another ho-hum team in Minnesota which Greene will likely extend his 100 yard streak against. Percy Harvin and Jeremy Maclin are other more high profile players going against top-flight teams every week.

    Shonn Greene is going to the NFL for a huge payday which he deserves, but he’s going to be shutout from New York unfortunately.

  4. I think very disappointing might be a little strong, Mike. I know I had Iowa at 6-6. I think optimistic fans began their line at 7-5. Iowa could finish with nine wins, a stellar season at the University of Iowa by any standard.

    As far as Heisman, all those guys you mentioned are ahead of Greene in line. The one thing that might work in his favor is that he might be the best RB in the country. It’s a debate. I have a vote for the Doak Walker Award, which goes to the nation’s top back, and right now I’m Greene 1 and Knowshon Moreno 2 and Javon Ringer 3. If he goes to NY, he’ll be the only RB and, probably, No. 5.

    We’ll see. There’s some football left. I also have a Hesiman vote. Right now, my eye is on Tim Tebow, with Michael Crabtree up there, too.

    Thanks for the post.

  5. I’m not grasping at straws. The only reason we have 4 losses, IMO, is QB play.

    Everything else has been pretty darn good and I am not overly disapponted in this season.

    He’s going to NY, mark my words.

  6. The only disappointing thing about this season has been the excruciatingly narrow margin of defeat in the four losses. The 7-4 record heading into Minnesota is a pleasant surprise to many, or right at optimistic expectations.

    Anyone who thought this team was going 10-2/11-1 needs to reduce the grain alcohol content of their black-and-gold jungle juice.

  7. LOL, ugboss. I haven’t had a good batch of that stuff since I was 19. Once was enough.

    E, it’s not a stretch, but someone is going to have to fail. I’m looking at Bradford or Harrell.

  8. Obviously I don’t know the specifics, but could the fact that McCoy, Harrell, Bradford and Crabtree all coming from the same region end up splitting the votes up enough for Green to slide in to that #5 spot. Since he’s the only legit Midwest candidate I would think he’d have a good number of votes from that region, and get some attention as one, if not the, top running back.

  9. Sorry guys, when I said a “very disappointing season” I meant from the standpoint of the talent level and the end result.

    This team may end up with 8 or 9 wins, but with the schedule they had, 11 wins was certainly within reach with some above average QB play ( in hindsite). And 7-6 is still possible.

    Nobody would have predicted 11 wins before the season, but Iowa has proved more than adequate and better then expected in just about every area except QB. Stanzi may be a fine QB next year and certainly seems to have more potential than his predecessor, but the turnovers really killed Iowa.

    Greene would probably be 2-3-4 in the Heisman if the Hawks had even won a couple of those close games. Not fair, but probably the reality of things.

  10. What might’ve been is a theme that certainly deserves some attention, Mike.

    That is definitely a chapter in the season.

    It’s become clear now that they reached a tipping point with Jake Christensen at Pitt. They decided to take the lumps with a young QB rather than struggle through another season with a QB who didn’t make enough makeable plays to score points.

    The lumps came in the form of turnovers. It cost them. We’ll never know what status quo would’ve cost them.

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