College Football

Iowa looking for line to open more holes for backs in '19

By LUKE MEREDITH

AP Sports Writer

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz believes that the Hawkeyes' blockers - and not necessarily their running backs - will need to improve next fall for the program to rediscover the running game.

The Hawkeyes, long known as a team that likes to soften up opponents on the ground early before breaking off big gains in the second half, averaged just 3.95 yards per carry last season.

But while a lot of the blame for that shaky performance went to the trio of Mekhi Sargent, Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin, Ferentz placed most of it on a line that all too often struggled to open holes in the running game.

Iowa (9-4 in 2018) closes spring practice on Friday. It hosts Miami (Ohio) in its opener on Aug. 31.

I "wish I could get up here and give you a scientific answer," Ferentz said about Iowa's lack of potent plays a year ago.

"Coaches are pretty insecure by nature. We have to justify the job we have. They pay us a lot of money to come in here and coach a children's game. It's simple. It's really simple. We need to block better."

Should Iowa's line, highlighted by potential NFL draft picks Alaric Jackson and Tristan Wirfs at tackle, get to where it needs to be by September, the Hawkeyes should have a chance to improve on an attack that never popped a run longer than 40 yards a year ago.

Sargent had 294 yards and three touchdowns - and perhaps most importantly, on nearly 7 yards a carry - in Iowa's final two regular-season games.

Young, who at 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds looks the part of an old-school Big Ten back, ran for 636 yards on 4.7 yards a carry and never fumbled.

Kelly-Martin, who averaged 18.5 attempts in his first four games before injuries took their toll, finished with 341 yards but on a paltry 3.5 yards per carry. Ivory-Martin missed time this spring after offseason ankle surgery, but he returned to practice for the back end of spring workouts.

Iowa will likely get all three of those backs multiple carries next September and let the situation settle itself based on production.

"We feel really good about the guys we have. Mekhi continues to grow. Toren Young continues to grow. Both those guys have done a lot of things this spring that maybe I didn't think they were at the level to do as recently as December," Ferentz said.

"With the top three guys, I think they each have their individual strengths ... the challenge would be making sure that we cater to their individual strengths."

---

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Updated April 23, 2019

Sports Data API Powered by STATS © 2019 by STATS.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

Teams Score Time
Interleague
Miami   8:10pm
Chicago  
Baltimore   9:40pm
Arizona  
American League
Cleveland   7:07pm
Toronto  
Boston   7:10pm
Tampa Bay  
New York   8:10pm
Minnesota  
Oakland   8:10pm
Houston  
Texas   10:10pm
Seattle  
National League
Colorado   7:05pm
Washington  
St. Louis   7:05pm
Pittsburgh  
Cincinnati   8:10pm
Milwaukee  
Chicago   9:45pm
San Francisco  
The Open Championship
Pos Name Score Thru
1 Shane Lowry -15 F
2 Tommy Fleetwood -9 F
3 Tony Finau -7 F
4 Brooks Koepka -6 F
4 Lee Westwood -6 F
6 Rickie Fowler -5 F
6 Tyrrell Hatton -5 F
6 Robert McIntyr -5 F
6 Danny Willett -5 F
Barbasol Championship
Pos Name Score Thru
1 Jim Herman -26 F
2 Kelly Kraft -25 F
3 Sepp Straka -23 F
4 Austin Cook -22 F
4 Matt Jones -22 F
6 Martin Laird -21 F
6 Josh Teater -21 F
6 D.J. Trahan -21 F
9 Dominic Bozzelli -20 F
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES AT NEW HAMPSHIRE
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 4 Kevin Harvick 14
2 11 Denny Hamlin 23
3 20 Erik Jones 4
4 12 Ryan Blaney 5
5 95 Matt Dibenedetto 7
6 19 Martin Truex Jr 6
7 6 Ryan Newman 26
8 18 Kyle Busch 2
9 22 Joey Logano 8
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES AT NEW HAMPSHIRE
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 20 Christopher Bell 2
2 00 Cole Custer 1
3 7 Justin Allgaier 8
4 2 Tyler Reddick 11
5 12 Paul Menard 4
6 98 Chase Briscoe 5
7 8 Ryan Truex 9
8 93 Ryan Sieg 15
9 19 Brandon Jones 6
NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES AT KENTUCKY
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 17 Tyler Ankrum 9
2 52 Stewart Friesen 32
3 18 Harrison Burton 6
4 45 Ross Chastain 5
5 15 Dylan Lupton 20
6 22 Austin Self 16
7 24 Brett Moffitt 7
8 11 Spencer Davis 21
9 44 Jeb Burton 28