EAST LANSING, Mich. — Akrum Wadley’s answers were as short as many of the running plays the Iowa football team stomached Saturday at Michigan State.
Like the rest of the team, the senior running back felt like he spent most of the game spinning his wheels as the Spartans held off the Hawkeyes 17-10.
Wadley did score Iowa’s lone touchdown on a 9-yard run with 12 minutes, 15 seconds remaining in the second quarter but finished the day with 30 yards on 17 carries.
“I don’t know. We’ve just got to execute,’’ Wadley said, attempting to dissect the problems the Hawkeyes are having getting any sort of traction in their rushing attack.
Michigan State limited the Hawkeyes to 19 rushing yards on 25 carries as a team, the first double-digit total on the ground for Iowa since running for 30 yards on 26 carries in last year’s 41-14 loss at Penn State.
Then, as now, there doesn’t seem to be an easy solution to the Hawkeyes’ problems.
“All we can do is try to figure it out and get things corrected,’’ coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We need to be able to run the ball successfully. It’s something we have to work on.’’
Ferentz doesn’t believe any one thing is leading Iowa to its issues, saying it extends beyond teams loading up the box to force quarterback Nate Stanley to beat them with his arm.
“We’ve seen different circumstances in different games. Penn State loaded up the box a week ago. This team, Michigan State, they’re built to stop the run. That’s what they do,’’ Ferentz said.
“People in this conference do what they can to stop the run. Even in 2004 when we couldn’t run (because of injuries), people still tried to stop the run. It’s how people play.’’
That didn’t make it any easier to take.
“It’s not one person, one part of things, it’s everybody,’’ Wadley said. “We’re just not executing.’’
“It’s frustrating,’’ Wadley said.
Did he expect the troubles Iowa has had moving the ball on the ground?
“Didn’t see it coming,’’ Wadley said.
Are the holes there?
“Did it look like there were holes?’’ Wadley asked.
What’s the solution?
“We’ve just got to do better, everybody,’’ Wadley said. “It’s all of us. We’ve got to do better.’’
Offensive guard Sean Welsh believes a combination of factors have slowed the Hawkeyes’ ground attack.
“It seems like it has been situational,’’ Welsh said. “Different things at different times aren’t helping us. We can play better as a line than we’ve played. We have to. The results show that. What we’re doing isn’t good enough, and we all realize and understand that. It’s up to all of us to get it figured out.’’
Wadley, held to 130 total yards over the last three games after topping 100 yards in the first two games of the season, expects that to happen.
“We’ve got to get it figured out,’’ he said. “You have to be able to run the ball.’’