Middle Tennessee notebook: Iowa running back Tyler Goodson continues to shine, injury report, career highs and more
By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa running back Tyler Goodson is prohibited from speaking to the media as a true freshman, but his head coach and one of his teammates had a lot to say about Goodson after Saturday’s 48-3 victory over Middle Tennessee State at Kinnick Stadium.
The Georgia native rushed for a career-high 97 yards and was among three Iowa running backs who gained at least 90 yards on the ground.
“I gave him the nickname the human joystick,” junior receiver Brandon Smith said of Goodson. “He’s one of our electric players. He’s crazy.”
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz paid Goodson a huge compliment by comparing him to former Iowa All-Big Ten tight end Tony Moeaki, who also made an immediate impact as a true freshman in 2005.
“Everything he’s done here, he just seems unfazed,” Ferentz said of Goodson. “He just acts like he belongs.
“Think about Tony Moeaki, the same way. He walked on campus, a young guy, you put him with the seniors and he played like a senior. That’s a rare ability for a kid and Tyler has done a good job so far.”
Goodson is Iowa’s third leading rusher with 202 yards on 34 attempts, and is averaging an impressive 5.9 yards per carry.
He wasn't made available to the media after Saturday's game because Kirk Ferentz has a rule that prohibits his true freshmen from speaking with the media.
Iowa already had three proven junior running backs on the team when Goodson joined the roster. So Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz wasn't necessarily looking for another option at running back, but Goodson was just too talented to leave on the bench, so Brian Ferentz figured a way to work him into the rotation.
“It’s unusual. I don’t know if we’ve ever been in that situation,” Kirk Ferentz said of having four reliable running backs. “We have confidence in all four of the backs. The older three guys we know very well. We came into practice really feeling good about those three players, kind of like the receiver group.
“But now Tyler is an addition who we thought was a good prospect coming out of high school.”
A native of Suwanee, Ga., Goodson was named the Player of the Year in his state as a senior.
Iowa rushed for 351 yards in Saturday’s game, including a career-high 131 yards by junior Toren Young. Fellow junior Mekhi Sargent also had his moments in Saturday’s game while rushing for 91 yards on 14 attempts.
Sargent has been the starter throughout the season and leads the team with 299 rushing yards.
“We have a special group of backs,” Sargent said. “We have conference games coming up and the sky is the limit for us.”
Junior Ivory Kelly-Martin has also appeared in all four games at running back for Iowa this season after having started six games last season, including the season opener.
Injury report: Iowa made it through Saturday’s game without suffering any additional injuries of note.
Junior left tackle Alaric Jackson also was in uniform for the first time since suffering a knee sprain in the season opener against Miami of Ohio, but did not play.
Kirk Ferentz said after the game that Jackson should be ready to play in next Saturday’s game at Michigan.
“I think he’s pretty close to being ready to go,” Ferentz said of Jackson, who made second-team All-Big Ten last season “Hopefully, next week, we’ll have him.”
Ferentz is also encouraged by the progress being made by sophomore free safety Kaevon Merriweather, who suffered a foot injury in practice the day before Iowa hosted Rutgers in the second game. Merriweather started at free safety in the season opener against Miami of Ohio.
“Merriweather is kind of in the same boat,” Ferentz said.
Jackson and Merriweather are both from the Detroit area, so it would mean a lot for them to play against the Wolverines.
Senior defensive tackle Brady Reiff, junior cornerback Matt Hankins, sophomore offensive lineman Kyler Schott and sophomore defensive back Julius Brents all missed Saturday's game due to injuries. It's unclear if any of them will be ready for the Michigan game.
Brents has yet to appear in a game this season.
Just another game: Junior defensive end Chauncey Golston is from Detroit, but he downplayed that angle when asked on Saturday about facing the Wolverines next Saturday in the Big House.
“How do I feel?” Golston said when asked about facing Michigan. “It’s the next game. How am I supposed to feel?
“I’m excited because it’s the next game. I’m not one of those players that looks ahead to a game. You have to take it one game at a time.
However, there is one thing about playing at Michigan that has Golston excited.
“I’m excited because I get to see my family,” Golston said.
Asked if there was any extra motivation in facing his home-state school, Golston said:
“No. Not really.”
Golston said he didn’t follow the Michigan football team as a kid despite having grown up in Detroit.
“The only team that I did look into was Oregon, so that doesn’t count,” Golston said.
Select company: Nate Stanley made his 30th consecutive start for Iowa at quarterback on Saturday. The only other players in school history with 30 or more starts at quarterback are Chuck Long (47), Matt Sherman (32) and Matt Rodgers (31).
Iowa has a 21-9 record with Stanley as the starting quarterback.
Career-highs: In addition to Toren Young and Tyler Goodson rushing for career highs on Saturday, freshman receiver Tyrone Tracy also finished with a career-high 85 receiving yards, while sophomore defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon had a career-high seven tackles and junior tight end Shaun Beyer had a career-long 27-yard reception.
"I feel like as a unit we played very well," Nixon said. "Every win is a big one for us."
Three Hawkeyes also scored their first rushing touchdown on Saturday, including senior fullback Brady Ross.
“It was fun,” Ross said. “It was a good play call and it was blocked well up front.”
Junior receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette and redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Petras also scored their first rushing touchdown in Saturday’s game.
King for a day at Kinnick: Saturday's game drew an announced attendance of 63,706, and that included Iowa State graduate and new fundraising legend Carson King.
He participated in the Wave after the first quarter and his presence at the game was among the topics that Kirk Ferentz discussed during his post-game press conference.
The spotlight has shined brightly on King ever since he help up a sign near the stage of the ESPN College GameDay show in Ames on Sept. 13 asking for donations to help replenish his Busch beer supply. King also included his venmo address and the money started pouring in.
He then decided to donate the money to the UI Stead Children's Hospital, which is located across the street from Kinnick Stadium and the inspiration for the Wave.
"Here's a guy, two weeks ago, I don't know Carson King from Johnny Carson," Ferentz said. "But a guy holds up a sign on Sportscenter and next thing you know, there's two million dollars that's been raised from people, as I understand it, all over the country."
King's fundraiser comes at a time when both Iowa and Iowa State are dealing with a controversy involving members of the Iowa Marching Band who were allegedly assaulted while marching to their buses in the moments after Iowa's 18-17 victory over Iowa State on Sept. 14 in Ames.
"All the crazy stuff going on in our world right now, here's a really nice thing," Ferentz said. "It's a gesture, a selfless act by an individual who happens to be from our state. Maybe we can make him an Iowa Hawkeye fan one of these days. But bigger, he's a fan of the hospital, and I don't know how you couldn't be if you had any knowledge of it."
Ferentz has a personal connection to the children's hospital and has made significant financial donations during his time as the Iowa head coach.