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Ferentz would like to see Hawkeyes get a few more runners involved in offense

2013-09-17T17:14:00Z 2013-09-17T21:02:12Z Ferentz would like to see Hawkeyes get a few more runners involved in offenseSteve Batterson Lee News Network Muscatine Journal
September 17, 2013 5:14 pm  • 

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Mark Weisman doesn’t mind being workhorse of the University of Iowa offense, even if it means a few aches and pains on Sunday morning.

“That’s what ice tubs are for,’’ said the junior running who ranks second in the Big Ten with his rushing average of 141.7 yards per game.

If Weisman’s workload continues at its current pace — he has 85 carries through three games — he would have the ball in his hands 340 times by the end of the regular season.

Only two backs in Hawkeye history have topped 300 carries in a single season: Sedrick Shaw rushed 316 times in 1995 and Shonn Greene ran the ball on 307 snaps in 2008.

Weisman’s carries to this point have come within “the flow of the game,’’ something that will continue as Iowa works toward Saturday’s 11 a.m. game against Western Michigan, but coach Kirk Ferentz would not mind seeing the ball find its way into the hands of other backs more frequently.

“I think it would be beneficial for us,’’ Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly news conference.

Despite Weisman’s success, Iowa ranks sixth in the Big Ten in rushing offense with its average of 239.3 yards per game.

Damon Bullock carried 13 times for 50 yards in the Hawkeyes’ 27-21 victory at Iowa State in what Ferentz labeled his most productive performance during Iowa’s 2-1 start.

The Iowa coach would like to get Jordan Canzeri, who sat out a year ago as he rehabilitated following an ACL tear, and true freshman LeShun Daniels more carries in the rushing attack as well.

“Jordan had a really good spring and a good camp. I think it will help us to get him more involved at times,’’ Ferentz said. “The question is where do you define those times and all that type of thing. We’ll probably have that discussion every week but I think we have a group of guys who have earned our trust.’’

Weisman’s physical style of rushing is among the reasons Ferentz believes Iowa needs to develop available depth at the position.

Ankle injuries last season limited his availability and productivity late last season, something Weisman understands.

“That’s part of football,’’ Weisman said. “All I can do is go play and play the way I know how and if something happens, it happens, but I can’t worry about that.’’

Ferentz isn’t worried either, saying he doesn’t wince as watches tape of Weisman fighting for an extra yard or two after he gets hit.

“That’s just his style,’’ Ferentz said. “That’s the kind of back he is, not the same at Shonn Greene, but similar. They’re both physical players so he’s going to get hit, and I think he knows that. Fortunately for us, he really takes pretty good care of himself and that helps at least.’’

He also welcomes watching Bullock asserting himself more frequently, both on the practice field and in recent games.

“I thought he practiced well last week and picked it up a step. We view Damon as a starter as well and he’s a good football player, somebody we need to play well,’’ Ferentz said. “We’ve got a lot of football left, so we’ll need all four of those guys.’’

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