Note: This is a series I've decided to put together to get us through the long months until football kicks off. It could be a season, a game, or one play. Hell, it could be anything that stuck out to me at some point in time about Iowa sports. Either way, just enjoy this trip back in Hawkeye history.
2008 was Shonn Greene's season, and the rest of the Big 10 was just there for him to run through. Well, run through or run by. Because the 5'11 235 lb running back could also put a move on you too. Don't believe me? Ask Frank Duong. He witnessed firsthand these two talents that Greene possessed when Purdue visited Iowa City in November of 2008. While this game was awesome, it was probably Greene's second best effort of the year, as he had single-handedly demolished Wisconsin a month earlier. But, I chose this game to take deeper look at for a couple of reasons: 1) I was at this game, and Greene looked like a man amongst boys 2) He was basically Iowa's only offense on this day 3) This was his final game at Kinnick, and boy did he put on a show 4) Last but not least, from this game forward, I have referred to anyone who gets trucked in a game of football, as getting "Duong'd."
Before paying homage to Frank Duong, let's check out Greene's numbers from this game.
Carries Yards Yards Per Carry TD
30 211 7.03 2
Besides a 22 yard touchdown run by Jewel Hampton in the first quarter, Shonn Greene was the Iowa Hawkeyes offense that day. Going for over 200 yards on the ground and averaging more than 7 yards per carry.
This was Ricky Stanzi's first year under center, and he really looked like it. He finished the game with 72 yards passing on 15 attempts. Knowing that Greene was Iowa's best bet at picking up yards and running the clock down, Ferentz kept giving the ball to him. Iowa ran the ball 37 times, and, as you can see above, Greene received 81.08% of the carries, or 56.60% of Iowa's plays consisted of Greene carrying the ball. It was the kind of game plan that Kirk Ferentz seems to love: run the ball down the opponents throat, running the clock down, and then let your defense do it's thing. The nerve racking thing about it, from an Iowa fan's perspective, was that Purdue was keeping the game uncomfortably close (Thank God, Curtis Painter didn't play very much of this game).
So, let's take a look at Greene's performance a little closer.
Dissecting Mr. Greene's carries for the game, we see that most of his carries went for 0-2 yards. Those 10 carries make up 33.33% of his carries. However, 60% of his runs went for at least 3 yards. Not to mention, that 7 of his 30 carries, or 23.33% of his runs, went for 10 or more yards. When you have a better chance of getting at least 6 yards every time you run the ball than you do at getting 0-2 yards, you're having a pretty damn good day.
Next, let's take a look at what he did on every one of Iowa's drives.
On the first drive, Iowa went to Greene 6 times, and he rewarded them by moving the ball 43 yards. Jewel Hampton would eventually put the ball in the endzone on this drive. On the second drive, they put the ball in Stanzi's hands, and only fed the human bowling ball 1 time. On the third drive, Greene only needed 2 carries to go 80 yards, after he put a beautiful spin move on Frank Duong. The next drive, Purdue shut down Greene. Allowing only -1 yards on 4 carries. The fifth drive wasn't much better, as Greene got another 4 carries and only came away with 7 yards. After that, the next three drives, saw Iowa go away from Greene and the running game, only giving him the ball 1 time on each drive.
Next, Andy Brodell set up Iowa with good field position returning a 37 yard punt from Purdue's 15, for 16 yards. Greene took all 36 yards himself, as he only needed 3 carries to reach the endzone. Greene didn't have much success on the eleventh drive, as he only got 3 yards on 2 carries, and Iowa went three and out. The twelfth drive, saw Greene get the ball on all 5 plays, and come up with 23 yards. However, he ultimately was stuffed on 4th and 1 at the Purdue 20. This was Shonn Greene's game, but as we saw against Michigan State that year, Iowa couldn't always come up with a yard when they needed it. Luckily, the defense would ultimately bend but not break and Iowa would win 22-17.
Shonn Greene was obviously the player of the game. And crucial fourth down failure aside, he had the two best plays of the game. The first came in the second quarter with 9:38 on the clock. It was a 75 yard run where he spun Purdue safety, Frank Duong, out of his cleats. Here's a look at a diagram of the play:
Note: I'm not an expert on breaking down plays, but I think I'm passably competent.
This play looks like a counter left, and it was a beauty. As the ball was snapped, Greene took a step right, which also made the defense take a step in that direction. Once they took that step, it set Iowa's offensive line up to block down and seal off the left side. That left Greene one on one with safety Frank Duong. Of course, Greene had no problem putting the spin on him and he outran the rest of the Purdue defense 75 yards down the sideline.
Play number two, came with 12:48 left in the fourth quarter, and was only 14 yards. However, it once again, involved a one Frank Thach Duong (Thanks, Purdue Athletics website!). Let's look at the diagram for this one.
Once again, Iowa went to the left side, but this time they had a fullback opening a lane for Greene. Pre-snap, Iowa moved the tight end Reisner in motion. Once the ball was snapped, Reisner down blocked on the middle linebacker, as the fullback Leppert sealed off the outside linebacker. This created the hole, where the 5'8" 178 lb Duong, would meet the 5'11" 235 lb Greene. The collision went pretty much how you would expect it to go. Greene lowered his shoulder and Duong was effectively dropped like a ton of bricks. I mean, he bounced back a little bit, as if he had run into a wall. In other words, Greene obliterated him. KO. Goodnight. Closed shop. Thank you, come again. And I think you get the point. #23 then went on to outrun the other safety coming from the opposite side of the field, as he lunged into the endzone.
Better views of both plays, can be seen here, starting at the 3:44 mark.
This game was a pretty representative sample of how the 2008 season went. Give the ball to Greene, and watch King and Kroul (Clayborn, Ballard, Klug, Sash, Angerer, and Edds all showed flashes of big things to come this year also) wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Outside of Greene, Iowa's offense was pretty abysmal in 2008. Stanzi was young, and pretty erratic. With no passing game, it's an even bigger accomplishment that Greene had the season he had. I mean, 1850 yards and 20 touchdowns, without the defense having to worry about the quarterback throwing it over their heads, is pretty damn incredible.
In a year where Iowa wasn't expected to do much, Shonn Greene carried the offense, and helped carry the Hawkeyes back to relevance. He was a man amongst boys that season.*
* Literally, he was 23 during the 2008 season.
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