Best ever season for an Iowa RB?
Stay or go, Greene soaking it in
By Marc Morehouse
(Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa’s Shonn Greene runs for a 75-yard touchdown during the second quarter against Purdue at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday.
IOWA CITY — Time to take inventory with Shonn Greene.
The numbers come without subjectivity, so let’s go there first. They are impressive.
With his 211 yards in Iowa’s 22-17 victory Saturday over Purdue, Greene is the only running back in the country with 100 yards in 11 games. This week, Greene leads the Football Bowl Subdivision with 1,585 yards but is second in game average with 144.09 yards a game.
“I’ve just been impressed,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I continue to be so impressed. Production is one thing, but this guy just comes every week and plays hard.
“That’s what great players do. I think it’s fair to say he’s a great player. I’ll say that now. He’s playing great, I’ll put it that way.”
Those are the national now numbers. There are also the “where his season sits in Iowa history” numbers. Let’s roll those.
Greene’s 75-yard TD against the Boilermakers moved him past Sedrick Shaw and into second place on Iowa’s single-season list. With next week’s game at Minnesota (7-4, 3-4 Big Ten) and a bowl game remaining, Greene needs just 106 yards to catch Tavian Banks’ season record of 1,691 set in 1997. His career total, basically this season and a handful of stop-starts in his first two years, is 1,963, 11th on Iowa’s career list.
Greene also had two TDs for the Hawkeyes (7-4, 4-3) with his the 75-yarder, longest TD run since Banks’ 82-yarder against Iowa State in ’97, and 14-yard game-clincher. That’s 15 rush TDs this season, tying Shaw for second place on that single-season list. Banks’ 17 TDs, also 1997, top that list.
Perspective on Greene’s second 200-yard performance (217 yards vs. Wisconsin) this season? Greene is only the third Iowa back to log two such efforts in a season. Of course, he joins Banks (1997) and Shaw (1995).
If it ends now, this is at least the third best season for an Iowa running back. But it doesn’t end now. Greene has a chance to put up the best numbers by in a running back in Iowa history.
“That’s great company to be with,” Greene said. “Those guys were great football players when they were here. I’m honored to be in the conversation with them.”
Ferentz is not a big “ranker.” He doesn’t allow himself to get pulled into who fits where on the “all-time” lists and that sort of thing. He darned near did during Saturday’s postgame.
“He’s just an extremely determined player,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of great performers. Personalities are different, positions are different, but the common denominator is the determination and energy those guys play with.
“Shonn certainly fits in with any of the guys you want to list that’s come through in the past decade.”
Time to look more closely at Saturday’s performance.
On Iowa’s opening drive, the Hawkeyes rushed for 68 yards on eight plays, scoring on freshman running back Jewel Hampton’s 22-yard run. Greene carried the first six times for 43 yards. In the third quarter, the Hawkeyes had a 36-yard scoring drive with every play going Greene’s way. He finished it off with a 14-yarder, delivering a crushing shoulder to Purdue safety Frank Duong and bouncing outside for the rest.
When asked if he thought the Hawkeyes could’ve won Saturday if he’d known that he would’ve thrown for only 72 yards, quarterback Ricky Stanzi responded, “With Shonn Greene, I guess anything’s possible.”
Heisman Trophy talk is legit.
Quarterbacks dominate the list. Florida’s Tim Tebow, last year’s winner, has the Gators in the national title chase. Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell is putting up the crazy numbers Texas Tech quarterbacks always put up, but he’s doing that and then some. The Red Raiders are undefeated and in the title chase. Texas’ Colt McCoy and Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford are contenders.
Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree might be the best player in the country. Plus, he has the highlight of beating Texas on a catch and run with one second left.
Greene is nudging his way in.
“Do I want to (go to New York, where the Heisman ceremony is held)?” Greene asked. “I really don’t care too much for it. Heisman? I’ll let all those other people deal with that stuff.”
Remember, Ferentz isn’t a big “ranker.” But . . .
“I know there are a lot of QBs playing at an extremely high level,” he said. “I don’t want to put the whammy on anyone, but after 11 weeks, I can’t imagine anyone playing their position better than Shonn’s playing it.
“Maybe there’s someone out there, but I probably would have heard of him by now. That’s with all due respect to a lot of good players, I don’t mean that in a slighting way. I’m sure there’s a better back out there somewhere.”
Yeah, they play for money on Sundays.
This is the last item. Will he stay or will he go?
Greene is a 235-pound back with the feet of a 200-pounder and deceptive speed (see the big fella pull away from defensive backs on that 75-yarder Saturday). The NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, the network’s draft expert, told The Gazette earlier this season, “If you get a bigger guy who can push the pile and who has quick feet and has demonstrated an ability to carry a heavy load, then you have somebody who’s going to catch some attention.”
Greene is a junior, but he will turn 24 before next season starts. When tight end Dallas Clark left with a year eligibility remaining, he was in the same situation.
Ferentz said Greene’s options will be thoroughly explored when the season is over. The mantra has been and continues to be “whatever’s in Shonn’s best interest.”
“I’ll sit down after the season and think about that stuff,” Greene said. “Right now, I don’t know.”
Greene’s focus is squarely on the season, one that’s shaping up to be the best ever for an Iowa running back.