Four downs with the running backs
[NOTE: Scott Dochterman and I will be running a series of position features and breakdowns on our blogs the next few weeks. This will be paired with the "Iowa running backs: Spaghetti Road" story in The Gazette on Aug. 21. A positional feature and breakdown will run in The Gazette up to Tennessee Tech week on Aug. 29. The blog and newspaper are two entirely different packages with, I'm thinking, two entirely different audiences. Please, let me know if you think that's wrong. Either way, thanks for reading.]
FOUR DOWNS WITH THE RUNNING BACKS
The depth chart (No. 1 first and then probables)
RB -- Marcus Coker, so., 6-0, 230; Jason White, jr., 5-10, 205; Mika'il McCall, fr., 6-0, 220; De'Andre Johnson, fr., 5-8, 200; Jordan Canzeri, fr., 5-9, 182; Damon Bullock, fr., 6-0, 195; Marcus Binns, fr., 5-11, 200.
FB -- Jonathan Gimm, jr., 6-3, 240; Jacob Reisen, so., 6-2, 231; Scott Covert, so., 6-2, 240; Matthew Meyers, fr., 6-2, 220; Adam Cox, fr., 5-11, 210; *Mark Weisman, fr., 6-0, 225; **Brad Rogers, so., 5-10, 230. *-- Weisman is a transfer from Air Force and isn't eligible this season per transfer rules. **-- Rogers has been out since failing a cardiac test last December. He's the starter, but he hasn't been cleared.
Sports Illustrated projects Marcus Coker to be the Big Ten's offensive MVP with 1,630 yards and 15 TDs. Kirk Ferentz would take that right now. With the departures of Adam Robinson, Brandon Wegher and Jewel Hampton, the ball is now Cokers. In his four starts last season (Indiana, Ohio State, Minnesota and Missouri), Coker averaged 127 yards and 5.98 yards a carry.
Under the radar
Ferentz seems to love the idea of Jordan Canzeri, a smallish running back with quick feet and high burst. Canzeri, a true freshman from Troy, N.Y., is 5-9, 180-ish, but that's OK. Ferentz has made consistent references to the New England Patriots' Danny Woodhead for comparison. There might be a little more insight here than just seeing Woodhead, 5-8, 195-pounder who scored six TDs and amassed nearly 1,000 yards offense last season. Ferentz's son, Brian, is tight ends coach for the New England Patriots. Canzeri was the quickest back in the open scrimmage Aug. 13. He might also find a role on kick return.
True freshman Mika'il McCall introduced himself during the Aug. 13 scrimmage with an inside run during which he met a linebacker and put him on his back. McCall is 6-0, 220. His body type begs for Shonn Greene comparisons, but Greene won the 2008 Doak Walker Award and is a New York Jet. So, probably should pump the breaks on that. With McCall, who originally committed to Michigan State, Iowa has a chance to pair bruising running backs. When Iowa RB goes as planned, one back gets 200-plus carries with another getting 100-plus. McCall could be in line for the 100.