Rob Report: Wadley Runs with Opportunity

This week's Rob Report kicks off with the unlikely story of Akrum Wadley becoming Iowa's first 100-yard rusher in a game since last season. The freshman turned the trick in Saturday's 48-7 win against Northwestern. Also in this rundown, we update injuries, hear from Ben Niemann on his blocked punt and catch you up and more news and notes.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Akrum Wadley thought his day was done. With his Iowa team enjoying a large lead, the freshman running back committed a cardinal sin of football. He turned the ball over to Northwestern.

"When I fumbled, I was like, oh no, it's over. But Coach (Chris) White, he told me to shake it off. It happens to the best of us. Go on to the next play. I just got mad and had to make up for that fumble," he said.

It's safe to say that Wadley did that and more after his third-quarter miscue. The New Jersey product produced the Hawkeyes' first 100-yard rushing game (15-106) since Jordan Canzeri picked up 165 at Purdue last season.

Canzeri missed Saturday's 48-7 win against the Wildcats with an ankle injury suffered two weeks ago at Maryland and fellow back, LeShun Daniels, sustained a regular-season-ending leg injury during the bye. Wadley became the first Iowa player to rush for 100 or more yards the first time he received carries in a game since Brandon Wegher did it in '09 against Iowa State.

"Akrum, unbelievable job, next man in, a couple guys got hurt so he stepped up and stepped up big," senior running back Mark Weisman said. "He had a really good bye week. He really did good during that bye week. He showed a lot of good things and it showed on the field. He hits that hole so hard, has great vision, has a great spin move. It's a deadly spin move."

Weisman carried 20 times for 94 yards and three touchdowns. His power game wore down Northwestern in the first half and Wadley raced past the Wildcats when given his chance after the intermission. He scored on a five-yard run and became Iowa's first back this season with multiple 20-plus-yard runs in a game.

"It's good for him," Left Tackle Brandon Scherff said. "He showed us what he can do. If you get him out in space, you're in trouble."

Wadley (5-11, 180) red shirted last season after arriving at Iowa from Newark, N.J., and Weequahic High. The Hawkeyes flipped him from his Temple verbal commitment.

"Akrum is a guy that was probably under-recruited when he got here," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. "He's undersized, obviously. He's a little bit thin right now."

Ferentz said that Wadley used his first year on campus to acclimate himself to the speed and intensity of the college game. That learning curve has increased this season, the coach added.

"I think he understands now," Ferentz said. "So the big thing for him, there's a lot of things he can improve on starting with ball security. That's the danger of a new guy out there, just like J.P. (Jonathan Parker) a couple weeks ago. But he'll improve and we'll keep working with him on that in practice.

"But he's a guy that really loves football. That's been pretty clear since he's been here; he really has a good football mentality. He's got good vision. He's a tough, tough-minded guy, too. It was good to get him up and running a little bit here. It was good to see."

INJURY REPORT: Canzeri tested his ailing ankle in practice this week but wasn't effective. He and tight end George Kittle were not in uniform against Northwestern. Their status for next Saturday's game at Minnesota was up in the air.

"Probably know more by Tuesday when we meet," Ferentz said. "There was no sense in dressing (Canzeri) today, he and George Kittle both. We just kept them out. I'm hoping we get (Canzeri) back by Tuesday, but it's just day by day."

Fullback Macon Plewa returned to the lineup after missing four of the previous five games, including the Hawkeyes last contest, at Maryland, two weeks ago.

Reserve running back and kick returner Jonathan Parker was injured early in Saturday's game and did not return. He brought the opening kickoff back 54 yards to set up Iowa's first score.

"He got banged on that one play, so hopefully we'll get him back, too," Ferentz said.

HELLO, NIEMANN: True freshman linebacker Ben Niemann capped Iowa's first quarter scoring with a blocked punt he returned for a touchdown. The play pushed the Hawkeyes' lead to 24-0.

Most of Niemann's work this season as come on special teams, although he has been given a handful of reps on defense. He almost blocked the Wildcats previous punt before batting down the next one.

"I thought I had a chance to get the first punt and I missed it," the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder said. "Their personal protector really didn't come out to me. I noticed that so the second time I tried to bend it a little more and I got the block."

Niemann's post-game comments were supplied to a member of the Iowa staff and handed out to reporters. Ferentz instituted a rule that true freshmen were off limits to the media years ago.

"It is a dream, fans going crazy, celebrating with my teammates in the end zone is picture perfect how you would envision it. It was awesome," he said.

It was Iowa’s first block punt since Purdue in 2011 (Kyle Steinbrecher), and the Hawkeyes' first punt block returned for a touchdown since Eastern Illinois in 2010 (Paki O’Meara, block and return).

EXTRA-POINTS:

-The 48 points Iowa scored are the most against Northwestern since defeating the Wildcats 62-10 in 2002.

-Iowa is bowl eligible for the 13th time in 14 seasons and four the 13th time in Ferentz's 16 seasons as head coach.

-Iowa allowed 75 yards passing, the eighth fewest in a single game in the Kirk Ferentz era.

-QB Jake Rudock connected with WR Matt Vandeberg on a 42-yard flea flicker to move into ninth place in career passing yards (3,947). Rudock finished the game 12-of-19 for 239 yards and one touchdown.

-LB Travis Perry started at linebacker in place of LB Reggie Spearman. It was Perry’s second career start. He finished the game with five tackles, tying a career high, and his first career sack.

-DT Louis-Trinca Pasat recorded three sacks, a career best.

-K Marshall Koehn connected on field goals from 48 and 24 yards. Today was his first career game with multiple field goals. He has made seven consecutive field goal attempts. He was perfect on six PAT attempts.

-Weisman has 13 rushing touchdowns this season, a single-season career high (8 in 2012, 8 in 2013), and the fifth most by a Hawkeye running back in single-season history. He has 29 career rushing touchdowns, the third most in program history (Shaw, 33; Banks, 33) and the most in the Kirk Ferentz era.

-WR Kevonte Martin-Manley caught three passes for 66 yards. He has 158 career receptions, passing Kevin Kasper for No. 3 on Iowa’s all-time list. His 1,618 career receiving yards rank No. 16 all-time.

-The Hawkeyes have played 51 consecutive games without a missed or blocked PAT, the longest streak of any school in the nation. Iowa has converted on 153 consecutive PATs during the streak.


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