MINNEAPOLIS | Damond Powell says he still has plenty to learn, but when Jake Rudock has been able to put the ball into the junior receiver’s hands, he has proven to be instant offense for Iowa.
Powell proved that again Saturday, taking a second-quarter tunnel screen from Rudock and putting his speed to work for a 74-yard touchdown with 2 minutes, 56 seconds left in the first half to send the Hawkeyes into the locker room with a 17-0 lead at the break in its 23-7 win over Minnesota.
Once he found himself with the ball in his hands and room to run, the Golden Gophers found themselves with a problem.
“Coach called my number and I just went out and tried to make a play,’’ Powell said.
Coach Kirk Ferentz, who at times would have been comfortable sitting on a 10-0 lead late in the second quarter, felt in this instance there was plenty of time when Iowa took over with 3:36 left in the half to make something happen.
Rudock hit Tevaun Smith for an 11-yard gain on first down before he hit Powell with a quick screen that allowed Powell to put his speed to work.
“It would have been a good play if it would have went for 5 yards, but Damon turned it into a great play,’’ Rudock said.
Ferentz said the name may have changed over time, but it’s a play Iowa has utilized before.
“I can remember C.J. Jones running that one pretty well back in 2002,’’ Ferentz said. “He had the ability to do some things with that and Damond Powell can do a lot of those things, too.’’
Powell, who arrived on the Iowa campus from Snow College in Utah one day before the start of fall camp in August, is adding to his knowledge of the playbook each week.
He has now caught four passes for Iowa during its 4-1 start, averaging 51.5 yards per reception, and his 74-yard run into the end zone Saturday was the longest pass play by Iowa since James Vandenberg hit Marvin McNutt with an 80-yard pass against Indiana in 2011.
Powell said the credit belonged to the linemen whose blocking gave the play a chance to work.
“I didn’t have to do anything except run,’’ Powell said. “They blocked everybody they needed to block so it was really easy, but it did feel really good. It was just a wide receiver screen and it worked.’’