Ferentz concerned with No. 2 RB, not Coker’s fumbles


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Marcus Coker has no excuses.

The sophomore running back glimpsed the tape of Iowa’s Sept. 3 season-opener against Tennessee Tech. He saw his two fumbles, both coming in his first four carries.

He didn’t see an explanation for those mishaps.

Going into this week’s game against archrival Iowa State, he said he feels “I have a lot to prove to myself.”

“I just didn’t hold onto the ball. No excuses. No reasons,” said Coker, who totaled 41 yards on 11 carries. “I just didn’t do it, and I [have] to.”

Fortunately for Iowa, none of its three fumbles — De’Andre Johnson dropped one in addition to Coker’s two — were too costly. The Hawkeyes beat the Golden Eagles, 34-7.

If they put three on the grass against a more challenging opponent Saturday in Ames, though, the result likely won’t be as favorable.

True freshman Mika’il McCall won’t be available to spark the offense again, either.

Coming on in relief after Coker’s confounding first two series, McCall ran for 61 yards on the first nine carries of his career. The excitement quickly ended when he broke his right ankle on the ninth carry.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday “there is a chance” McCall could return before the end of the season, but he’ll be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

“Obviously, he’s feeling pretty down,” junior running back Jason White said about McCall, who can’t speak to reporters because of Iowa rules covering true freshmen. “With any injury, it’s going to bring devastation. As a running-back corps and as a team, we’re trying to keep his head up — keep him motivated.”

Coker is familiar with the adversity McCall now faces. A broken collarbone forced Coker to miss almost all of Iowa’s 2010 preseason camp and its first three games.

He rebounded to finish the season with more than 600 yards and was named Offensive Player of the Game in the Insight Bowl, where he racked up an Iowa bowl record 219 yards

“If they’re expecting 220 yards a game, that’s not realistic,” said Ferentz, who didn’t sound too concerned with Coker. “He’ll bounce back, would be my guess.”

But with McCall out of the equation, the 13th-year coach’s search for a solid No. 2 back is still ongoing.

Johnson gained 32 yards on eight carries, but had the fumble. White received just one carry, tallying a single yard. True freshman Damon Bullock didn’t run the ball but saw playing time, burning an opportunity for a redshirt season.

Ferentz said he’ll do the same with fellow true freshman back Jordan Canzeri Saturday if he has to.

“We’ll just let all the backs practice this week and see who does the best,” he said. “We’ll take it [a redshirt] off anybody. We’d have taken it off Saturday if we had to.”

Ferentz not inclined to follow uniform trend

Several programs across the nation made an impression — for better or worse — by débuting new alternate uniforms this weekend. Oregon, Georgia, and Boise State were among those that received the most attention.

None compared with Maryland's Monday night ensemble though. The Maryland state flag speckled the Terrapins' helmets, mixing a blend of red and white with black-and-yellow checkers.

Don't expect any radical changes from the Hawkeyes as long as Ferentz is in charge.

"That's one thing I'll say, we have sharp uniforms, in my opinion," said Ferentz, who grew up near Pittsburgh. Decades ago, former Iowa coach Hayden Fry modeled the Hawkeyes' uniforms after those of the Steelers'. "We're not changing our uniforms."

Carl Davis may play Saturday

An undisclosed injury kept redshirt freshman defensive tackle Carl Davis from competing in Iowa's opener. But the 6-5, 310-pounder may play against Iowa State. Ferentz said Davis has been cleared for action.

"Now it's a matter of what he can do, how much he can do," Ferentz said. "At least we're going to start working him this week in practice."

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