IOWA CITY, Iowa — No Big Ten running back combination has as many rushing yards or touchdowns as Iowa’s Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels.
The duo has 1,260 rushing yards and 14 scores in eight games. They have combined for 13 plays exceeding 25 yards, and Daniels had a pair of long runs called back.
They’re Iowa’s best offensive playmakers, and offensive coordinator Greg Davis said Wednesday one of his projects during Iowa’s bye week is to find a way to get them both on the field at the same time.
“We’re looking at some things,” Davis said. “Can we get LeShun and Akrum on the field at the same time? That’s one of the things that we’re looking at. Where can we do more with (true freshman tight end) Noah Fant, especially if we get George (Kittle) back healthy. Noah played a bunch for us at the Y position (slot receiver) the other day.
“Where is the best combination of getting guys on the field that can come up with plays. And whether or not that’s Akrum — a package with Akrum and LeShun in the backfield at the same time. Or Noah and George on the field at the same time, even in third-down situations. That’s what this week is all about.”
Iowa generally avoids putting two pure running backs on the field at the same time. It was much-discussed in 2013 and 2014 when leading rusher and natural fullback Mark Weisman was a major part of Iowa’s scheme. But it never came to fruition.
Wadley has skills that translate beyond running back as a slot receiver or running a jet sweep. At 7.1 yards per carry, Wadley ranks first in the Big Ten and eighth nationally. He also has caught 18 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown.
Regular third-down back Derrick Mitchell has seen less action, in part because of Wadley’s emergence in the passing game.
“We’ll continue to look at it,” Davis said. “And there’s some advantages to having a third-down guy. That’s (Mitchell’s) role and that’s what he prepares for.
“But there’s also some advantages to having the other two guys in there, too. LeShun is a big body. Akrum is a really good screen guy. We’ll continue to look at that.”
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