Key to end losing streak: rush more

Jeff Stell

The key to the ISU football team snapping out if its recent funk lies with running back Ennis Haywood. If Haywood gets his 100 yards Saturday at Kansas, history is on the side of the Cyclones.

In Haywood’s two seasons as the main man in the Cyclone backfield, the Cyclones are 10-0 when he breaks the 100-yard barrier and 2-7 when he doesn’t.

The last three weeks while the Cyclones have been in their slide, it’s no coincidence that Haywood has totaled only 139 yards and no touchdowns.

“We’ve faced three outstanding defenses the last three weeks, all very highly ranked, and they’ve had a lot to do with us not being able to run the ball,” ISU head coach Dan McCarney said. “We’d like to really oil Ennis up this week and get more carries and yards for him, because he’s really important to our offense.”

Haywood led the Big 12 in rushing last season with 1,237 yards. Earning that accomplishment may have played a part in Haywood being 100 yards behind that pace this season as defense have been looking to shut him down.

“It’s been frustrating, because the defenses have been loading the box to stop the run.” Haywood said. “We knew it’d be hard though, because when the defense loads the box, the running game isn’t going to get established.”

While his yards have been down in the losing streak, so has Haywood’s number of carries. The Cyclones have fell behind early in both the Kansas State and Colorado losses and were forced to go strictly to the air to attempt a comeback.

Two weeks ago, the loss to the Wildcats was easily Haywood’s low point of his career.

Haywood entered the game leading the Big 12 in rushing but was completely shut down, totaling just six yards on 10 carries, career lows in both areas.

A week later against the Buffaloes, Haywood had 15 attempts for 64 yards.

“The game dictates that [Haywood’s number of carries],” ISU wide receiver Craig Campbell said. “Sometimes you might have to open it [the offense] up if we have to come from behind and not have time to run the ball. If we get behind, we need to throw.”

So how many carries would Haywood give himself if he was the Cyclones offensive coordinator?

“On the average, I’d have to say 25,” Haywood said. “Some games more, some games less. I would give myself 25 carries.”

Saturday’s trip to Lawrence gives Haywood the chance to go against the worst defense in the Big 12. The Jayhawk defensive unit is last in the league in rushing defense (240.7 ypg) and scoring defense (37.2 ppg).

Haywood carved up the Jayhawks last season for 190 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. He averaged 6.6 yards a carry in the Cyclones’ 39-20 win.

“I’m looking forward to getting back on track and just get the running game going,” Haywood said.