Weisman, Gordon different in style, similar in tenacity

Andrew Logue

IOWA CITY, Ia. – The national pundits rave about Melvin Gordon’s statistics.

Contemporaries, such as Iowa running back Mark Weisman, respect Gordon’s resiliency.

“It’s hard to stay healthy,” Weisman said. “And when he’s running away from guys, not getting tackled, it’s definitely helpful.

“Unfortunately, that’s not my style.”

Weisman brings a battering-ram approach to Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. showdown with the 14th-ranked Badgers.

Gordon, meanwhile, is riding a wave of Heisman Trophy support from his teammates and coaches.

“It means a lot,” Gordon said. “They don’t have to say nice things like they have been saying, especially if it’s not true.

“It’s a good feeling to know they think highly of me.”

Pretty much everyone was heaping praise on Gordon last weekend after he ran for a major college record 408 yards against Nebraska.

His season total of 1,909 yards is tops among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision rushers, 231 ahead of Indiana’s Tevin Coleman.

“He’s a great running back,” Weisman said. “Best in college football, probably.”

Weisman, who is generally considered a workhorse, has bulled his way to 676 yards this season and 2,465 for his career.

With 30 rushing touchdowns in 33 games, Weisman is third on Iowa’s all-time list.

“He's probably too quiet and too humble,” Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He's just wired that way. Boy, does he work hard.

“He's a tough-minded guy and a tough guy physically.”

Despite those rough-and-tumble qualities, coaches have used Weisman judiciously.

The 6-foot, 240-pound senior is averaging 17 carries a game. Gordon, who stands 6-1, 213-pounds, gets 22.3.

Both understand the tweaks and quirks of their position.

“You can get the biggest hit and don’t feel it at all,” Weisman said. “And then, you get a little tackle by the ankle and you sprain your ankle. Something crazy happens.

“You never know. That’s why you don’t take anything for granted, play every play like it’s your last, because you never know when it’s going to be.”

Gordon was eased into the Wisconsin lineup, spending his first few seasons as an understudy to James White, Montee Ball and others.

“There’s pros and cons to everything,” Gordon said. “The bad thing about that is, I had to sit and wait my turn.

“That was rough.”

He stewed, while developing skills and getting stronger.

The Hawkeyes caught a glimpse of Gordon a year ago, when he ran for 62 yards on 17 carries, playing a minor role in Wisconsin’s 28-9 win.

White set the pace with 132 yards and two touchdowns.

“The good thing about that was being able to learn from those guys,” said Gordon, a junior. “It was tough. Even your redshirt freshman year, where you really feel like you should get more snaps than what you’re getting, it’s depressing almost.

“It was just some adversity that I had to get over.”

Gordon is now soaring to elite status, and more than willing to carry any burden the Badgers put upon him.

“It is what it is,” Gordon said. “They call on my jersey number and they call on me to make plays.

“When they ask me to go into the game, I’m not going to tell them no.”