Mark Weisman refuses to talk about himself after win

Andrew Logue

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – If you want to see Mark Weisman's eyes light up, don't ask him about the century mark.

He'll just shrug.

But if you start talking about Iowa's 304 total rushing yards — the statistical baseline for Saturday's 30-14 win over Illinois — the senior running back will go on and on.

"Seeing that 300 number come up there is pretty cool," Weisman said. "Definitely a step in the right direction."

The Hawkeyes (7-3 overall, 4-2 in the Big Ten) needed Weisman to be a workhorse, and he pulled his offensive teammates through a slipshod first half.

"He has a lot of fire in him, a lot of emotion," quarterback Jake Rudock said. "You don't see that. He keeps it very centered.

"He understands what we're trying to do as an offense."

Jake Rudock #15 of the Iowa Hawkeyes runs the ball against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on November 15, 2014 in Champaign, Illinois. Iowa defeated Illinois 30-14.

Weisman was part of Iowa's early sputtering. He carried the ball three times from inside Illinois' 5-yard line and failed to reach the end zone.

But his legs kept churning, averaging 5.8 yards an attempt while helping the Hawkeyes gain a season-best 587 total yards — the fourth-highest total in Kirk Ferentz's 16 seasons as coach.

"That's what you hope for," Weisman said. "Finally, we got it going a little bit today."

Weisman finished with 134 yards on 23 carries.

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It was his ninth time going over 100, but the first since Weisman ran for 147 in last year's win over Minnesota.

But, yeah ... whatever.

"I had no clue how many yards I had," Weisman said. "You don't really care. You just want to be getting good gains out there, finishing runs, finishing hard.

"That's about it."

Jordan Canzeri #33 of the Iowa Hawkeyes throws the stiff arm to Zane Petty #21 of the Illinois Fighting Illini during a run at Memorial Stadium on November 15, 2014 in Champaign, Illinois. Iowa defeated Illinois 30-14.

Jordan Canzeri, who has been slowed by an ankle injury, contributed 68 rushing yards and averaged 5.7 per carry.

"I'm not where I want to be, completely," Canzeri said. "I just had to feel my way through, but with the corrections we were making, we were coming together really strong."

Even when the offense was frittering away scoring chances, Weisman and Canzeri kept the Hawkeyes on an even keel.

"We didn't want to get angry with each other, mad or start pointing fingers," Canzeri said. "We were proving we could get (the ball) all the way down.

"We just had to finish."

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Iowa had been rushing for 147.7 yards per game. Saturday's 304 was also the fourth-highest ever under Ferentz.

"That's everyone," Weisman said with a grin. "That's the only thing that matters, everyone is part of the big picture.

"I don't think we've been anywhere near that, really, this year."

Rudock accounted for Iowa's only rushing touchdown, on a 6-yard rollout early in the fourth quarter, but Weisman's presence was always pivotal.

"There's times he knows the checks that are coming before I make them," Rudock said. "That's just a testament to his game planning, his understanding of the offense.

"Our whole team knows what they're going to get from him."