Johnson punishes Iowa’s defense


IOWA CITY, Iowa—Emmit Smith of the Dallas Cowboys has a commercial out in which he complains about not being able to properly meet opposing defensemen in the NFL.

Smith proceeds to flatten an opponent in the secondary and introduces himself.

“Nice to meet you. My name’s Emmit.”

When LeShon Johnson broke to the outside of the line in the middle of the third quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes he found an open field, and one man in the secondary stood between the “Cowboy” and a 50-yard gain.

Right arm extended, Johnson stiff-armed a Hawkeye defender into the Kinnick Stadium grass.

“Nice to meet you. My name’s LeShon.”

In an unbelieveable display of his talents, Johnson utilized every bit of his speed, quickness, and raw power on his way to breaking the NIU single season rushing record, the Kinnick Stadium record, the Big West Conference season record and amassing more rushing yardage than any other individual in Iowa’s 103-year history.

“I’ve never seen anyone with that great burst of speed once he sees daylight,” Iowa head coach Hayden Fry said after the game. “His legs are like pistons.”

On one run that won’t make any highlight films, but showed what kind of punishing runner he is, Johnson took the ball up the middle for what should have been a gain of about three yards.

Legs pumping, shoulders squared, the “Cowboy” plowed into four Hawkeye defensemen and pushed all of them back four yards for a gain of seven.

All week Iowa was sick of hearing Johnson’s name and Fry had commented earlier about how they were going to stop him.

“We said, ‘Well, he’s getting hit, but not that hard. Let’s welcome him to the Big Ten,” Fry said.

Well they welcomed him all right. The red carpet Iowa laid out for Johnson was in the form of a sea of green grass and open terrain.

Although he was shut down early (11 yards in the first quarter, 85 at half), the line began opening holes just big enough to enable Johnson the opportunity to have the kind of day running backs dream about.

The 200-yard day turned into Johnson’s second 300-yard day of the season because of one breakaway with 8:02 left on the clock.

The “Cowboy” took the ball off right tackle and found a seam in the defense which he worked through perfectly. Once into the secondary, there was nobody there to stop him and Johnson sprinted downfield for an 81-yard touchdown.

Sadler, despite the loss, was glowing after seeing what his potential All-American had just accomplished.

“He’s a coach’s dream from every aspect,” Sadler said.

Johnson downplayed the importance of winning the Heisman trophy, but left no doubt about where he thinks he should be.

“I think definitely in the top two,” Johnson said.

“When I get into a zone there’s no stopping me. People didn’t know if I could run against a Big Ten school. I had to go out and prove it.”