Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Colleges

Constant O-line steadies Iowa

TAMPA — Perhaps nobody on Iowa's team appreciates the offensive line — and its newfound consistency — more than running back Mark Weisman.

Last year in a game against Penn State, starting offensive linemen Brandon Scherff and Andrew Donnal went down with season-ending injuries. The Hawkeyes, 4-2 at the time, lost the game and didn't win another, finishing 4-8.

This year, with good health on their side, the Hawkeyes have started the same five linemen in all 12 games. It has paid dividends for an ever improving offense that faces LSU (9-3) in the Outback Bowl on Wednesday.

Iowa (8-4) averages 189 rushing yards a game, and five Hawkeyes have at least 36 carries and 100 rushing yards. Weisman is 27 yards from his first 1,000-yard season, and he knows just whom to thank.

"The offensive line; that's where it all starts," Weisman said. "That's how the running game works. It makes it an easier job for the running backs. I give all the credit to them."

Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock is seeing the benefits of consistency as well. Last season Iowa allowed 22 sacks. This year it has allowed 12, the 11th fewest in Division I-A.

"The line gets a big part of that, and they deserve a big part of that," offensive coordinator Greg Davis said.

In 2012 the Hawkeyes averaged just 91 rushing yards a game after Scherff and Donnal were hurt. Weisman, who had 815 rushing yards, had just 184 in the final six games.

"(Scherff and Donnal) were two guys that had a lot of experience and knew what they were doing," starting center Austin Blythe said. "They were guys that did things right. It was a huge detriment to our offensive line and our team."

This year's unit — left tackle Scherff, left guard Conor Boffeli, Blythe, right guard Jordan Walsh and right tackle Brett Van Sloten, with Donnal rotating in at right guard — isn't nearly as deep as Davis would like, but the linemen have been doing what is asked of them, he said. Sophomore Walsh thinks that has a lot to do with the unit's chemistry.

Walsh said he and the rest of the linemen enjoy playing video games at Blythe's house and often go bowling or to movies together in their free time. Those moments help them get the job done in games, he said.

By starting every game together, the unit has jelled. That close-knit feeling will come in handy against LSU, which ranks 20th nationally in total defense.

Rudock has seen his team struggle with injuries on the offensive line, so he knows what a benefit a healthy one can be.

"That's something you can never underappreciate," Rudock said. "They're protecting me, they're protecting everybody, allowing the offense to move. No matter what anybody tells you, it always starts in the trenches."

Kelly Parsons can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Florida State football quick hits: Road trip bonding and quarterback battle

Florida State football quick hits: Road trip bonding and quarterback battle

BRADENTON — Although the recruiting advantage of Florida State's trip to IMG Academy is debatable, some of the other perks of the road trip are hard to deny.Like the camaraderie that comes with the bus ride down.QB Bailey Hockman said some...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Willie Taggart doesn’t see recruiting perks in FSU’s IMG Academy trip

Willie Taggart doesn’t see recruiting perks in FSU’s IMG Academy trip

BRADENTON — Florida State coach Willie Taggart presumably had many off-campus sites where he could have taken the Seminoles for this week's portion of preseason camp.So why IMG Academy?"Look around…" Taggart said.There's the sparking...
Published: 08/13/18
Florida Gators’ Van Jefferson can play this fall

Florida Gators’ Van Jefferson can play this fall

Florida receiver Van Jefferson can play immediately after receiving a waiver by the SEC, the Gators announced Monday morning.Jefferson needed the waiver after transferring from Ole Miss because of its NCAA mess. In two years with the Rebels, he had 9...
Published: 08/13/18
Florida State football starting practice at IMG Academy

Florida State football starting practice at IMG Academy

BRADENTON — Florida State hit the road to hold some of its preseason camp here at IMG Academy. A few highlights from morning interviews:I asked coach Willie Taggart why he wanted to come to IMG specifically. "Look around…" Taggart sa...
Published: 08/13/18
Maryland places DJ Durkin on administrative leave amid reports of football program’s toxic culture

Maryland places DJ Durkin on administrative leave amid reports of football program’s toxic culture

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The University of Maryland placed football Coach DJ Durkin on administrative leave Saturday in wake of news reports that players faced abuse and disparagement from staff members.Athletic Director Damon Evans sent a letter to unive...
Published: 08/11/18
Five thoughts from Florida Gators’ practice

Five thoughts from Florida Gators’ practice

GAINESVILLE — The Florida Gators continued preseason camp Saturday with two and a half hours of practice that were fully open to the media.A few observations:Running back Malik Davis (Jesuit High) looks fully recovered from the knee injury...
Published: 08/11/18

Wake Forest assistant coach pleads not guilty for punch that killed tourist

NEW YORK — A rising star in college basketball’s coaching ranks who police said threw a punch that led to the death of a New York City tourist who apparently mistook him for an Uber driver pleaded not guilty to an assault charge Thursday night. Wake ...
Published: 08/10/18
The SEC reigns (again) thanks to college football’s best quarterback collection

The SEC reigns (again) thanks to college football’s best quarterback collection

The SEC built itself into the best conference in the country thanks largely to the ground game and defense.Not this year.If the SEC is going to reestablish itself as the best in the sport, the league will do so with the best collection of quarterback...
Published: 08/10/18
Report: Florida State to play LSU in Orlando, New Orleans

Report: Florida State to play LSU in Orlando, New Orleans

Florida State will again be playing in Orlando against an SEC program.The Seminoles and LSU will have a two-game series, veteran college football reporter Brett McMurphy reported Thursday morning. Their 2022 season opener will be in New Orleans, and ...
Published: 08/09/18
Browns rookie, former Florida Gator Antonio Callaway cited for marijuana possession

Browns rookie, former Florida Gator Antonio Callaway cited for marijuana possession

BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland Browns rookie Antonio Callaway has been cited for marijuana possession, the latest drama involving one of the team’s wide receivers. Callaway was pulled over in his car by Strongsville, Ohio police at 2:59 a.m. on Sunday. Acco...
Published: 08/07/18