IOWA CITY — Iowa made some great strides last weekend against Iowa State.
Or one running back ran with great strides.
Mark Weisman carried the Hawkeyes’ offense on his back with 35 rushes for 148 yards. It marked the third time in as many games that the converted fullback had 30 or more carries.
But Iowa (2-1) had other reasons to feel good about the offense, which has one more game before entering Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes host Western Michigan (0-3) Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m.
Backup Damon Bullock ran 13 times for 50 yards in relief of Weisman. Also getting in the game was Jordan Canzeri.
Coach Kirk Ferentz believes all will need to be involved in the offense moving forward.
“We still feel that Damon’s the starter for us. I think (Saturday) was his best performance this year. That was encouraging,” Ferentz said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “The question is where do you define those times and all that type of thing? So we’ll have that discussion probably every week.
“But all three of those guys, I think, have earned our trust. And we feel good about LeShun (Daniels) as well. As the season goes, we’ve got a lot of football left, so we’ll need all four of those guys.”
The backfield was not the question heading into the season.
That issue came with the quarterback and the receivers.
Sophomore Jake Rudock touched the ball in a game for the first time in the season opener.
Against Iowa State, Rudock was 14-of-23 for 160 yards and two touchdowns. For the first game this season, he did not throw an interception.
Rudock has also exhibited intelligence and the ability to escape, as well as some quickness on runs. His rushing touchdown in Ames was his fourth in three games. The last Iowa quarterback to run for more than four touchdowns in one season was Nathan Chandler, who had six in 2003.
“He hasn’t been perfect by any stretch, but he’s really doing a lot of good things. His poise and just awareness, I think, is really pretty good. He kind of gets it,” said Ferentz.
The Hawkeyes have gotten 16 receivers in on the action in three games, led by Kevonte Martin-Manley. He has 19 receptions for 163 yards and one touchdown.
The veteran is leading the way for the young group, a role Ferentz expected the junior to take.
“We needed Kevonte to be the leader of that group because we’re so inexperienced out there. I think he’s grabbed that,” Ferentz said. “You know, a big part of being a good player is knowing who you are and what you are and playing to that end. I think he’s doing a good job of that.
“It’s good to see some runs after that catch the other day. That was a real positive, be it him or Jake Hillyer same way. Those kind of things are good for us.”
The Hawkeyes, unlike a year ago, are getting their tight ends into the action.
Ray Hamilton was the second-leading receiver against the Cyclones with two catches for 34 yards.
Fellow tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz is second behind Martin-Manley on the season with six catches for 52 yards. Jake Duzey and George Kittle have also recorded receptions this season.
Three games into the season, Ferentz is pleased with his team’s progress but knows there is much more to come.
“We’re not there yet. Right now, no matter how you look at it, you can say, hey, we have a lot to work on, which we do,” said Ferentz. “The other side of the coin too is we’re three points away from being - or four points away from being undefeated right now.”
©2013 The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa)
Visit The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa) at www.thehawkeye.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services