Iowa football has seen the best results on offense this season when running the ball consistently.
There’s been a clear path to victory for Iowa football over the past two games. The Hawkeyes have seen enormous success on offense when running the ball, and there should be no reason to switch things up heading into this weekend’s matchup against Penn State.
The Hawkeyes neglected the run game in their first two contests, as offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz called a combined 51 designed running plays. In their last two games, Ferentz has called 72 designed runs.
The difference has been clear: Iowa’s offense looks much more balanced with a strong rushing attack, and the Hawkeyes are winning games.
As a team, Iowa averages 183.2 rushing yards per game (47th in FBS), compared to just 192.8 passing yards per game (95th). They average 5.4 yards per carry (18th), compared to just 5.6 yards per pass attempt (112th).
If the eye test didn’t already give a good indication, the stats tell the full story. The Hawkeyes must continue to be a run-first offense moving forward.
Iowa has a budding star in running back Tyler Goodson, who rushed for a career-high 142 yards on 20 carries against Minnesota this past Friday. In four games this season, Goodson has 63 carries for 375 yards (6.0 average) and five touchdowns. For reference, he had five touchdowns all of last season.
“He’s a quick and elusive back,” said Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum on Goodson. “He can read holes very well. All we’ve got to do is just try to block for him, make some holes and he’ll find them.”
Goodson is emerging as a team leader and has been the main catalyst for Iowa’s offensive success. He’s currently on pace to lead the Hawkeyes in rushing for the second straight season after becoming the first true freshman in program history to do so last year.
Behind Goodson on the depth chart is Mekhi Sargent, who’s embraced his role as a change-of-pace back. The redshirt senior would be a starter on a handful of Big Ten teams based on talent, but Goodson is on another level. In four games, Sargent has 208 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
First-year starting quarterback Spencer Petras has struggled this season, despite Iowa’s offensive line excelling in pass-protection. Petras is capable of being a game manager, but he cannot be relied on to carry Iowa’s offense – at least, not at this point in his career.
The evidence is right in front of us. If Iowa wants to continue winning, the ground game must remain the main focus on offense week-in and week-out.