Hawks’ Greene Remindful of MB III
The best news for Minnesota and the other
teams in the Big Ten Conference concerning Iowa’s extraordinary running
back, Shonn Greene, is he may leave school next year for the NFL.
Of more interest to the Gophers, though, is that the nation’s leading rusher will be at the Metrodome on Saturday trying to lead Iowa
to a final regular season record of 8-4 and a quality bowl game like the
Greene’s emergence this season has been a
little like a science fiction film where a superhuman guy lands on
earth. In this case the arrival took place at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium
where Greene was a seldom used reserve in 2005 and 2006, then wasn’t
even in school last season and didn’t participate in 2008 spring
Greene won the starting running back job
this summer, replacing the departed Albert Young, now on
the Vikings’ practice squad. It’s been a fast ride to stardom for
Greene who gained 175 yards and 205 yards in 2005 and 2006. What Greene
has accomplished this season is to rush for over 100 yards in every game
and gain a total of 1,585 yards, second best in the country.
No other player in America has rushed for
over 100 yards in every game this season. If Greene can do that against
the Gophers he becomes the first Big Ten Conference player since
Penn State’s Curtis Enis (1997) to rush for over 100 yards
in each league game.
The 5-foot-11, 235-pound New Jersey native runs with power, speed,
balance and moves. The topper is his determination, running with will
and aggressiveness. He will remind local fans of former Gopher
Marion Barber III.
Last Saturday he rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns in a 22-17 win
over Purdue. He now has 15 rushing touchdowns, tied for second in
school history and is among the national leaders. On Monday he was named
Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season.
Greene, who was academically ineligible last season, is 23 years old. With only one season of college eligibility remaining after 2008,
he has the option of declaring for the NFL draft. It’s no secret in
Iowa he will consider that route.
Because he didn’t receive pre-season hype and Iowa has a so-so record,
Greene won’t have serious Heisman Trophy consideration. The NFL won’t
blink over that, though, and Greene is a likely first or second round
Meanwhile, the Gophers will butt heads with a bull of a running back who
has gained over 75 percent of Iowa’s total rushing yards. When
Saturday’s game is over the Gophers are likely to say, “Once was
Gopher coach Tim Brewster has a
strategy and can only hope his players execute. “You can’t tackle him
with one guy,” he said. “There’s got to be multiple tacklers hitting
this guy. Swarming this guy. Four or five, six guys around him.
You’ve got to do a great job with your gap control. Your defensive line
is so critical to stopping a guy like him.
“To be quite
honest with you, you’re not going to stop Shonn Greene. …What you’ve got
to try to do is limit the amount of yards that he gets and to me the
critical thing is the explosive runs. The runs over 12 yards.
Absolutely limit the number of runs he’ll have over 12 yards.”