EVANSTON, Ill. – Derrick Mitchell Jr. said it tongue it cheek. In the statement some truth was hidden.
The sophomore running back said a couple of reporters interviewing him here at Ryan Field Saturday could have gained 100 yards behind his offensive line. While he was being generous to the aging 40 year olds, the point he was making was on the mark.
Injuries have hit the The Hawkeye front hard and it’s still managed to pave the way for three different backs to rush for at least 100 yards in a game and two of those carriers top the 200 mark (first time in school history). No. 17 Iowa registered 492 yards (294 rushing) of offense in a 40-10 demolition of No. 20 Northwestern Saturday. The Wildcats entered Saturday allowing just 269.5 yards overall and 131.1 on the ground.
"They did a great job," Iowa Quarterback C.J. Beathard said of his blockers. "We’ve got a couple of starters hurt and the guys stepped in. The next man in, that’s what we harp on all the time. The next man has got to come in and step in and do a good job and they were working all week and they did a great job today."
The Hawkeyes played without Boone Myers and Ike Boettger, who started the season at the left and right tackles, respectively. Sophomore Sean Welsh, who opened the first six games at left guard began at right tackle. True freshman James Daniels started at left guard after replacing Boettger at right tackle last week.
Through it all, Jordan Canzeri rushed for 256 yards in last week’s 29-20 win against Illinois. After he was hurt in the first half here Saturday, Akrum Wadley and Mitchell stepped in for him and rushed 204 and 79 yards, respectively.
"It’s the same thing," Mitchell Jr. said of the offensive line. "You have to give credit to (position coach) Brian Ferentz because he’s a great coach. He’s been on everybody all week, the backs, the line, about being focused on what we’ve got to get done."
Center Austin Blythe and right guard Jordan Walsh, both fifth-year seniors, have been the constants on the Hawkeye line. And they have pushed people around.
The Hawkeyes clung to a 16-10 lead at halftime before the line dug in and the offense clicked for 24 unanswered points.
"In that second half, the offensive line did a great job blocking and Akrum found holes and so did Derrick," Beathard said. "They did a good job finding those holes but you’ve got to put that on the offensive line. They did a great job opening holes up."
INJURY REPORT: Canzeri crumbled to the ground in the first half with what appeared to be a a left ankle injury. The senior did not return.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said it was a sprain not a break. He was unsure of the status of his senior going forward or how long the injury would keep him out.
Quarterback C.J. Beathard, who said he was limited in practice this week, hobbled off the field in the fourth quarter and the game in hand. He did not return. He and Ferentz said there was not need for him to take more hits at that point.
Tight end Jake Duzey (knee) missed his second game in a row. He played in week four and five after off-season surgery.
Wide receiver Tevaun Smith returned to action after missing two weeks with a knee injury. He wasn’t expected to play and Beathard said he didn’t know one of his top targets would be back until Friday.
Running Back LeShun Daniels (ankle) missed his second game in a row. Ferentz said the junior lobbied to play before Saturday’s game but the coaches already made the decision to hold him out in hopes of getting his injury completely healed. He tried playing through it for three games.
ALL DRESSED UP: Players in uniform here on Saturday.
QB (4) – Beathard, Wiegers, Cook, Boyle.
RB (7) – Canzeri, Cox, Plewa, L. Daniels, Wadley, Mitchell, Kulick.
WR (9) – Parker, McCarron, Vandeberg, Tevaun Smith, Jerminic Smith, Jay Scheel, Hillyer, Stone, Falconer.
TE (6) – Krieger Coble, Kittle, Duzey, Wisnieski, Pekar, Outsey.
OL (9) – Render, Walsh, Welsh, Ferguson, Ward, Croston, Daniels, Simmons, Blythe
DL (11) – Spears, Brincks, Hulett, Gressel, Terlouw, Nelson, Hesse, Ekakitie, Bazata, Johnson, Meier.
LB (7) – Bower, Mends, Hockaday, Perry, Niemann, Fisher, Jewell.
DB (11) – King, Gervase, Snyder, Gair, Mabin, Lomax, Taylor, Ward, Fleming, Jackson, Draper
ST (4) – Koehn, Kidd, Kluver, Recinos
SPECIAL TEAMS: How the units lined up on Saturday
Kick Return – King, McCarron, Plewa, Kulick, Cox, Hillyer, Perry, Bowe, Snyder, Hockaday, Outsey.
Punt Coverage – Kluver, Kidd, K. Ward, Jackson, Hulett, Plewa, Jewell, Snyder, McCarron Perry, Fisher.
Kick Off – Koehn, Snyder, Draper, K. Ward, Fleming, Gair, Bower, Niemann, Hockaday, Perry, Fisher.
Punt Return – King, Jackson, K. Ward, Hockaday, McCarron, Snyder, Ekakitie, Fleming, Bower, Mabin, Fleming.
FRESH FACE: Iowa pulled the redshirt off another true freshman Saturday when Jack Hockaday saw his first action of the season. The linebacker from Illinois played on the kickoff return and coverage teams along with the punt return unit.
Hockaday (6-1, 215) joined James Daniels (OL), Jerminic Smith (WR) and Adrian Falconer (WR) as members of the 2015 Recruiting Class to see the field this season. Hockaday had traveled with the team to road games.
EXTRA POINTS: The Hawkeyes are 7-0 for the first time since 2009, the second time under Kirk Ferentz, and the fifth time in school history. Iowa started 9-0 in 2009, its best start in school history. The Hawkeyes were 7-0 in 1985, 1922, and 1921…Iowa has two roads wins over ranked opponents for the first time since 2002 (at #12 Penn State, 42-35; at #8 Michigan, 34-9)…Iowa is 3-0 in the Big Ten for the third time under Kirk Ferentz. Iowa opened 3-0 in the Big Ten in 2009 (5-0) and 2002 (8-0)…Iowa won at Northwestern for the first time since 2007 (28-17). The Hawkeyes have won four of the last five meetings overall…Northwestern entered the game with the conference’s second best rush offense (213 ypg). Iowa held the Wildcats to 51 rushing yards, including just 15 in the second half. Northwestern managed just 80 yards of offense in the second half…Northwestern entered the game with the second best scoring defense in the conference (12.2 ppg). The 40 points are the most allowed by Northwestern this season…Iowa had a running back rush for 200 yards for the second time this season (Akrum Wadley at Illinois, Jordan Canzeri vs. North Texas). It is the first time in school history two different running backs rushed for 200 yards in the same season. RB Tavian Banks rushed for 200 yards in consecutive games in 1997 (vs. Northern Iowa, vs. Tulsa)…QB C.J. Beathard is 8-0 as Iowa’s starting quarterback, a record that includes a 4-0 mark on the road, a 4-0 mark at home, and a 4-0 mark in the Big Ten. Numbers include 131-of-224 passing for 1,660 yards, 10 touchdowns, and four interceptions, and 223 yards rushing with three rushing touchdowns. He is the first quarterback in school history to win his first eight career starts…DB Desmond King recorded an interception on Northwestern’s opening possession. King has a Big Ten high six interceptions this season. He is the first Hawkeye with six interceptions in a single season since Tyler Sash led the league with six in 2009…LB Cole Fisher recorded a team high 10 tackles. Fisher has been Iowa’s leading tackler five times this season.