Iowa's Weisman runs with fullback's force

Life in the Big Ten can provide many different challenges for a defense. Northwestern knows all about that. Last week, the Wildcats prepared for a test from Nebraska's read-option attack; this week, NU must contain Iowa's fullback-turn-tailback Mark Weisman.

One week ago, the Northwestern defense was preparing for the read-option attack of Nebraska's Taylor Martinez and Red Burkhead—a unique style of offense run by one of the nation's top rushing attacks.

For Iowa week, the Wildcats tossed out their game plan and got back to the basics—get off the ball first and stop the run. The Hawkeyes present a different, yet equally challenging attack, attempting to run it down your throat. NU must adjust its schemes for a vastly different rushing style.

"You've really got to watch the film, realize you have to attack, and get back to the basic fundamentals—be the first one off the ball," defensive end Tyler Scott said.

But the running back Northwestern must prepare for may provide the most difficult task yet.

A transfer from Air Force, Mark Weisman walked on with Iowa and was pushed to the bottom of the fullback depth chart. He worked his way to the top of the depth chart, and then found himself in the role of starting running back against rival Iowa State after the team suffered several losses at the position.

Weisman has averaged 6.1 yards per carry and tallied eight touchdowns through seven games as the Hawkeyes' starter. The 6-foot, 234-pounder runs like a fullback, causing problems for an opposing defense.

"He's a physical, physical kid," said Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald. "He's impressive to watch."

Fitzgerald recalls evaluating Weisman—a product of Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire—as a prospective recruit. However, it was determined that he wouldn't be a fit in Northwestern's spread attack.

"We identified his skillset to that of more of a fullback—a bigger-type back," said Fitzgerald. "That's the initial reason he went to Air Force then Iowa. To see how his role has increased, you have to be terribly impressed. He has done a terrific job for them. He's a big, physical guy."

Northwestern's run defense, ranked 29th in the country for yards allowed per game, is stressing the fundamentals for a battle with Weisman.

"He's a good runner," Scott said. "He comes downhill and he runs hard. We're definitely going to have to wrap up and have good tackling technique."

Added linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo, Northwestern's second-leading tackler: "If we stick to our fundamentals and read our keys, we should be fine."

The Wildcats remain confident in their plan to contain Weisman, but must be prepared for the Big Ten's toughest runner.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats and Chicago Cubs. He currently resides on Chicago's north side.
Facebook | Twitter| E-Mail | Recommended Stories

  • Peyton Manning emerged alone atop yet another category in the NFL record book tonight vs the Niners, as he tossed touchdown #509 under the national spotlight of Sunday Night Football (NBC). (Photo…

  • Former USC and NFL running back LenDale White added tons of drama to what was a relatively quiet Homecoming weekend for the Trojans.

  • Here’s a way to watch football and improve your golf swing at the same time. In your living room (or on the range), practice the one-minute golf swing, as shown in this video. Set the timer on your…

  • Dr. Roto, like many others, can't believe Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (pictured above) passed for over 300 yards and rushed for over 100 yards in the same game. First time that's ever happened…

  • As soon as those winds fall off, get into the stand! I always tell people you can't kill them if you aren't out, but if you want to try and pick an opportune time – this is it.

Up Next

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald meets the media following Saturday's victory over Iowa.…


0 Fans online
    Join The Conversation