Iowa (3-0) primarily has been a defensive-oriented, run-first team under 10th-year head coach Kirk Ferentz (sound familiar?), and 5-foot-11, 235-pound junior running back Shonn Greene is the catalyst
"The running back is a guy who gets your attention,'' Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt said. "And they'll play 2-3 backs, but Greene is the guy who has the stats. He's as physical a running back as we've seen in a while. This guy does not come down with an arm tackle. You've got to find a way to get him on the ground.''
Pitt (1-1) must try to stop a guy who has been somewhat unstoppable so far. Greene has 55 carries for 359 yards rushing (6.5 per carry) and three touchdowns. He also has two catches for 12 yards. Jewel Hampton is the No. 2 rusher with 19 carries for 122 yards (6.4) and two scores.
Greene's success, however, isn't a surprise because he's been flashing this brilliance since his freshman year. He became the first Iowa running back in two decades to surpass the 100-yard mark in a game. However, academic difficulties limited Greene to special teams work and eventually forced him to go to a community college. He returned to Iowa this summer and certainly appears to be back on track.
"You always talk about backs running with their pads down, and (Greene) delivers blows,'' Pitt defensive coordinator Phil Bennett said. "If you don't bring the wood, you're going to get the wood. In each game, he's had what I call decisive runs that set the game and put other teams at the break point.''
Bennett and Wannstedt agreed that Iowa's offense likes to create gaps in a defense for Greene to run through, so the Panthers linebackers and secondary -- in particular the safeties -- will need to do a good job filling those holes.
"I think we're two similar teams, offensive and defensively,'' Bennett added. "They believe in running the ball, play-pass and are very sound defensively. They don't get too extravagant and keep the big plays to a bare minimum.
"They stress the fundamentals, and they stress the kicking game, and we're similar also. But they're bigger than we are. But that's by design, because we'd like to think that we run well. So, we'll see what happens Saturday.''
Wannstedt broke it down even further.
"Their offensive scheme isn't a lot of pulling and power plays,'' Wannstedt said. "They're more zone-blocking where size is a factor, but for us on defense we have to be on the move.
"If our defensive linemen don't make plays, we can't function. That's the way it's been for the 30 years that I've been running this defense. ... Ultimately, it'll come down to blocking, tackling and turnovers.''
And if the Panthers are unable to tackle Greene, it'll be a long day for Pitt.
RB Greene Makes Iowa Go
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