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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Opponent Preview: Iowa’s running back controversy

South Carolina defenders try to tackle Iowa’s Shonn Greene in the second half of the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on Thursday, January 1, 2009. Iowa defeated South Carolina 31-10.

Editor’s Note: The UA football team (2-0) travel to Big Ten country Saturday for a showdown with Iowa (2-0). Here’s what their student newspaper is discussing as the big game approaches.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (UWIRE) — With the Iowa football team having two strong canidates for who should be the number one running back for the Hawkeyes, the Daily Iowan makes cases for Brandon Wegher and Adam Robinson, respectively.


Coming into the 2009 football season, there was no bigger question mark for Iowa than its running back situation.

The issue still remains largely unsettled.

Junior Paki O’Meara has failed to marvel, surprisingly. And with 132 yards on 27 combined carries, redshirt freshman Adam Robinson has been lackluster.

So far, the most impressive running back has been a true freshman — former Sioux City Heelan standout Brandon Wegher.

Despite not getting a single touch in Iowa’s opener against Northern Iowa, Wegher answered the call against Iowa State and tallied 101 yards and a touchdown on just 15 rushes. He also showed some versatility by catching two passes — two more than Robinson has caught in two games.

Wegher may have not looked like a Heisman candidate, but he didn’t give the Hawkeye faithful any reason to believe he shouldn’t be starting. The Dakota Dunes, S.D., native showed elusiveness as well as an ability to find room and promptly scamper through it — something neither Robinson nor O’Meara have consistently shown.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has announced that Robinson will continue to be the Hawkeyes’ No. 1 back, while Wegher will complement him as the team’s secondary rusher.

This means that both men will get their fair share of touches. But if Wegher can continue to consistently run like he did against the Cyclones, there’s no justification for not starting him.

While Wegher’s Sept. 12 performance should be kept in perspective — the Hawkeyes were facing Iowa State — it also should be praised correctly.

It was Wegher’s first time getting the ball in a collegiate game. It was Wegher’s only chance to prove himself in a game situation to date.

And after performing like he did, what more could you want?

— by Jordan Garretson


Sure, everyone wants to jump to the conclusion that Brandon Wegher, a true freshman, should get the start after a great game at Iowa State.

Remember, though, a good number of his yards came after Iowa was already walloping the Cyclones and the Iowa State defense had broken down.

Yes, there was the touchdown, but both Robinson and Wegher benefited from great offensive-line play opening up huge running lanes during the game.

It won’t matter who is in the backfield this weekend because the real key to the running game lays in the O-line. Bryan Bulaga is back on the left side, meaning the often-dominant front five will likely create success for whoever is behind them.

Even without Bulaga, the Hawkeyes gained 191 rushing yards against a Big 12 school, a feat that the offensive line should be recognized for — not just Wegher or Robinson.

When the line did break down this year against Northern Iowa, consider that it was Robinson who came through with 63 yards and a game-changing touchdown run.

Talent is a moot point, too. Both Wegher and Robinson have a longest run of 17 yards this year, have only one touchdown, and are still freshmen. Yet if Wegher wants to continue to succeed, Robinson needs to start.

And he is. The Des Moines native is listed first on the two-deep just as Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz promised over the weekend.

With Robinson as the declared starter, Arizona’s defense will prepare mostly for him, which should ultimately help Wegher sneak up on the Wildcats if he sees the field.

It’s not as though Wegher will be left sitting on the bench as Robinson and O’Meara sink and float.

Both of the freshmen will certainly get their share of carries, and in this era of running back-by-committee, the debate over the starter shouldn’t even matter.

— by Ian Martin

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