Iowa Football

Iowa 2020 depth chart projections, RB: The runway is clear for Tyler Goodson's takeoff

The sophomore should lead the pack of 7 scholarship running backs the Hawkeyes have going into 2020

Iowa Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson (15) picks up a 1-yard run during the fourth quarter of their game at Kinnick S
Iowa Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson (15) picks up a 1-yard run during the fourth quarter of their game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — The winning of the trust kept then-true freshman Tyler Goodson from the starting lineup early in the season. Young players are going to make mistakes. You hope to create an environment where those mistakes don’t get you beat. That’s the trust thing.

This is how it’s always been under head coach Kirk Ferentz with underclassmen in playmaking positions.

So, when Goodson, a sophomore (5-10, 190), got the start against Minnesota in mid-November, he rushed 13 times for 94 yards and a TD. The TD was a 10-yard run that gave Iowa a 13-0 lead late in the first quarter. Quite frankly, it was the kind of run that has been absent since Akrum Wadley, who gained more than 2,800 yards from 2014-17, graduated.

Suddenly, the outside zone was there. Suddenly, people stopped talking about junking the zone scheme in the running game. That performance, from all parts of the running game, showed something.

Now, they didn’t exactly build on it. The 225 yards and two rushing TDs against Nebraska were helpful in a three-point victory, but the Nebraska defense just isn’t a fish you’re hanging on the wall yet.

There’s work to do and Goodson is the back to do it. On 29 targets last season, he caught 24 passes. He also lined up in the split end spot 24 times and 13 in the slot. He finished with 161 yards after catch.

Goodson rushed for 638 rushing yards and five TDs, becoming the first true freshman to lead the Hawkeyes in rushing. Goodson carried 13 to 21 times in each of Iowa’s last four games. He’s undersized maybe a little at 190, but that’s what winter is for.

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Next RB in

In kind of a shocker but not totally, on the same day Tristan Wirfs and A.J. Epenesa announced their NFL intentions, fifth-year senior running back Toren Young announced that he would forgo his fifth year and prepare for the NFL Draft.

This is not an altogether unexpected development. Young, who’ll finish his Iowa career with 1,262 yards (ranks No. 32 all-time at Iowa), always had bodies in front of him here. In 2017, he was third behind Wadley and James Butler. The Madison, Wis., native probably had his best opportunity in 2018. Mekhi Sargent came in as a summer recruit from Iowa Western and went on to lead Iowa in rushing. And then it was Goodson, a true freshman, in 2019.

Young put in four years. He was recruited over a few times. The Iowa staff also started to wander away from the “big back.” Shonn Greene’s 1,850 yards and 20 TDs broke all of Iowa’s records in 2008. He was in the 230-pound range. 230-pounder Marcus Coker led Iowa in rushing in 2011. From 2012 to 2014, Mark Weisman was a 225-pound fullback playing running back. Since 225-pounder LeShun Daniels (2015-16), backs in the mode of Jordan Canzeri (192 pounds), Wadley (190), Sargent (5-9, 212) and Goodson (190) have become Iowa’s preferred, backed up, of course, with at least one beefier back.

 
 

As it stands right now, Sargent and redshirt freshman Shadrick Byrd will be Iowa’s heaviest backs in the fall at 212.

So, Young is off to start his life and chase the NFL dream. Now Sargent. He could transfer. A freshman passes you on the depth chart, that’s probably a thought that flashes in any player’s mind. There’s only one ball. Running backs tend to want to carry that ball.

I think he should stay. 1) This is a Big Ten university. Don’t know where everyone is on the degree trail, but you want a degree from a Big Ten university. It’s real money. 2) Goodson is 190 pounds and maybe like three times near the end of last season did walk slowly to the sidelines after tackles that pulled his upper torso one way and his legs another. It’s hard to see Goodson standing up to 20 carries a game, at least right now in his development. Someone’s going to get something, and Sargent, who had 162 yards of YAC as a receiver, has value in that role.

Junior Ivory Kelly-Martin (5-10, 203) is one patient dude. He played four games with six carries last year before deciding to redshirt. His value is experience. Injuries also haven’t allowed us to get a clear picture of what he can do on the field. He has value.

You’ll likely get to know Byrd, who redshirted last season. Incoming freshman Leshon Williams (Chicago, 5-11, 200) and Gavin Williams (Altoona/Dowling, 6-0, 200) offer production and boost Iowa’s scholarship running back numbers to six.

No, that’s not too many.

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Fullback

The starters — Turner Pallisard (so.) and Monte Pottebaum (so.): Oh no way. No way are the Hawkeyes going to use a fullback next season. Not with all of those outstanding wide receivers. I mean, no way.

Well actually ... The Hawkeyes played with a fullback on 33 percent of their snaps last season. The heavy formations won’t go away. In fact, that’s what will help make the passing game better. (It should, however, be noted that in 2019, 22 was Iowa’s least successful personnel group and 11 personnel was what Iowa leaned on.)

With Brady Ross in 2019, you could make a great argument that the fullback lead was Iowa’s most effective running play.

Last season was rare for fullback. Iowa usually goes with a duo. Fullbacks are expected to bring collision energy to practice and having two helps cushion that. Pallissard (6-0, 242) and Pottebaum (6-1, 236), who made the move from linebacker to fullback last fall, are built for that.

Next FB in — Johnny Plewa (6-0, 230, redshirt freshman) is a name you’ll recognize. His brother, Macon, played fullback for the Hawkeyes from 2012 to 2015.

Sophomore running backs under Kirk Ferentz

1. Marcus Coker (2011) — 281 carries for 1,384 yards, 4.9 per carry, 15 TDs

2. Albert Young (2005) — 249 carries for 1,334 yards, 5.4 per carry, 8 TDs

3. Fred Russell (2002) — 220 carries for 1,264 yards, 5.7 per carry, 9 TDs

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4. Adam Robinson (2010) — 203 carries for 941 yards, 4.6 per carry, 10 TDs

5. Ladell Betts (1999) — 189 carries for 857 yards, 4.5 per carry, 5 TDs

6. Mark Weisman (2012) — 159 carrries for 815 yards, 5.1 per carry, 8 TDs

7. Mekhi Sargent (2018) — 159 carries for 745 yards 4.7 per carry, 9 TDs

8. Jermelle Lewis (2002) — 123 carries for 709 yards, 5.8 per carry, 8 TDs

9. Akrum Wadley (2015) — 83 carries for 496 yards, 6.0 per carry, 7 TDs

10. Jordan Canzeri (2013) — 74 carries for 481 yards, 6.5 per carry, 2 TDs

Running backs who have led Iowa in scoring in the Ferentz era

2007 — Albert Young 42 points (seven TDS)

2008 — Shonn Greene 120 points (20 TDs)

2011 — Marcus Coker 90 points (15 TDs)

2014 — Mark Weisman 96 points (16 TDs)

2016 — Akrum Wadley 78 points (13 TDs)

2017 — Akrum Wadley 78 points (13 TDs)

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Rushing leaders under Kirk Ferentz

1999 — Ladell Betts 857 yards, 5 TDs

2000 — Betts 1,090 yards, 5 TDs

2001 — Betts 1,060 yards, 10 TDs

2002 — Fred Russell 1,264 yards, 9 TDs

2003 — Russell 1,355 yards, 7 TDs

2004 — Sam Brownlee 227 yards, 0 TDs

2005 — Albert Young 1,334 yards, 8 TDs

2006 — Young 779 yards, 7 TDs

2007 — Young 968 yards, 6 TDs

2008 — Shonn Greene 1,850 yards, 20 TDs

2009 — Adam Robinson 834 yards, 5 TDs

2010 — Robinson 941 yards, 10 TDs

2011 — Marcus Coker 1,384 yards, 15 TDs

2012 — Mark Weisman 815 yards, 8 TDs

2013 — Weisman 975 yards, 8 TDs

2014 — Weisman 812 yards, 16 TDs

2015 — Jordan Canzeri 984 yards, 12 TDs

2016 — Akrum Wadley 1,081 yards, 10 TDs

2017 — Wadley 1,109 yards, 10 TDs

2018 — Mekhi Sargent 745 yards, 9 TDs

2019 — Tyler Goodson 638 yards, 5 TDs

* Highs and lows are bolded

1,000-yard rushers under Kirk Ferentz

2000 — Ladell Betts 1,090 yards

2001 — Betts 1,060 yards

2002 — Fred Russell 1,264 yards

2003 — Russell 1,355 yards

2005 — Albert Young 1,334 yards

2008 — Shonn Greene 1,850 yards

2011 — Marcus Coker 1,384 yards

2016 — Akrum Wadley 1,081 yards and LeShun Daniels Jr. 1,058 yards

2017 — Wadley 1,109 yards

Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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