An experienced offensive line and a healthy stable of running backs should help the Iowa Hawkeyes run the ball much better this season. In 2004, the Hawkeyes lost their top four running backs to injury and averaged just 72-yards per game, last in the country.

Senior Marques Simmons missed four games due to injury last year but returned late in the season. He finished with 159 yards for the season and scored a touchdown in a Capitol One Bowl victory over LSU.Simmons says they have nine tailbacks and that provides a lot of competition. Simmons says with so many running backs healthy right now several could see playing time. He says they all want the number one spot, so they have to go out every day and give their best.

An improved running game should help the passing game make more big plays. Clinton Solomon averaged 15 and a half yards per catch in 2004 and scored six touchdowns. Solomon says the healthy running game gives quarterback Drew Tate many more options on offense. He says it’ll help him and the other receivers get down the field and make bigger plays. Solomon says if both phases click the Hawkeyes could accomplish his primary goal for his senior season which is another Big Ten Championship. Iowa opens September third at home against Ball State.