No. 42 - The fullbacks

Iowa loves its two fullbacks and is more than happy to keep the position alive

No. 42 (it’s actually Macon Plewa)
No. 42 (it’s actually Macon Plewa)

No. 42 ... You get the feeling the fullback position is making a comeback of sorts in today’s college game. I’m going to put up Auburn’s use of the position as the reason why. Auburn fullback Jay Prosch set the table for a lot of the running plays that opened up for running back Tre Mason and quarterback Nick Marshall. The Tigers led the nation in rushing last season — almost 4,600 yards — and earned a berth in the national title game with an offense (inverted veer) that had a place for the fullback.

Iowa runs a fullback maybe 15 to 20 percent of the time, but, as you know, it will jam the football at a defense if that’s how it can win. Case in point: In last season’s victory at Iowa State, the Hawkeyes ran 22 personnel (two backs, including a fullback, and two TEs) on 40 out of 83 plays.

Junior fullback Adam Cox didn’t get a gameball, but he should’ve. He led a lot of Mark Weisman carries. The Hawkeyes eventually wore ISU to a nub, rushing 60 times for 218 yards in a 27-21 win.

Cox (5-11, 230) and junior Macon Plewa (6-2, 236) man the fullback position for the Hawkeyes. Coaches, teammates fully realize their value and the tone they set in practice and the weightroom.

Weisman at fullback? Wait, what? ... You might remember this discussion. It happened during spring football. Running backs coach Chris White said, “I’m not an NFL scout, but Mark’s future is at fullback, I believe. I really do, I think listening to some of those guys [NFL scouts]. He can go in there at the drop of a dime and play fullback for us. It’s old hat for him.”

But no, Weisman isn’t a fullback at Iowa. The key element there is “NFL scout” and “future.” In the now and at Iowa, Weisman is a running back. A productive one at that.

When discussing the fullbacks who play fullback at Iowa right now, White said, “Really, they’re the heartbeat of our football team on offense for sure. Between Macon and Adam, they just bring an energy and a physicalness, and the players just thrive off that. Couldn’t be happier with the fullback situation.”

The reviews are in ... Coaches always say certain players are the “heartbeat” of the team and all of that. Sometimes, it’s true.

The Iowa State postgame was a rare day in the sun for Iowa’s fullbacks. Cox really doesn’t enjoy the spotlight. Plewa joked freely. It’s not often they talk in front of the cameras and that’s how they prefer it.

Offensive tackle Brandon Scherff said they do their talking with their pads. That’s how the position goes. Asked if it takes a mad man to play fullback, Scherff laughed and nodded.

“Yeah, look at those two over there,” he said. “They just like going out and hitting people. They’ve been trying to prove something since they’ve been here and I think they have.”

Outlook ... Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis mentioned the possibility of more gap-scheme running plays (vs. zone scheme) this fall. (“We’ve been and Iowa has always been a team that could run the zone real well, the inside zone and outside zone. We’ve implemented a little more gap speed into the zone and the slant play, so that was an area that we wanted to look into.” Davis said.)

That remains to be seen and will just play itself out (no value in trying to guess, an exercise that has made RB Damon Bullock a wide receiver 15 times during his career).

Either way, if Iowa is in a power mode, it will include Cox and/or Plewa.

“We have two fullbacks here that we are really pleased with in Adam Cox and Macon Plewa,” Davis said. “They both catch the ball out of the backfield and they both really enjoy the role. So, 21 personnel will continue to be a part [of what Iowa does]. A lot of people don’t play 21 anymore, even though I do see a little more of it coming back. You know, you’d like to be able to play 21, 12, 11. In the course of a ballgame, there’s a place for all of them.”

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