Coker's best not enough in loss to Gophers


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MINNEAPOLIS — Marcus Coker leaned against a wall in the bowels of TCF Bank Stadium with his arms folded across his chest.

He spoke so quietly that it was difficult to hear him over the joyful shouts and songs of passing Minnesota cheerleaders. When someone asked him about his own individual efforts, the sophomore running back rolled his eyes, then closed them and shook his head.


Coker had just run for 252 yards. Only two Iowa running backs have ever run for more in a game.

"Doesn't matter," he said. "We lost."

OK, so he was frustrated. But when the sting of Iowa's 22-21 loss to the Gophers fades, will Coker ever be able to look back at his monstrous performance and be happy with it?

"Nope," he said. "No."

All the pain and frustration of a second-straight upset loss to Minnesota erased a huge effort from Coker. And while he wouldn't take any individual credit, the Maryland native's teammates praised the way he carried an otherwise-struggling offense.

"Marcus ran really hard today and he deserves a lot of credit," center James Ferentz said. "He probably played his best game of the year."

Coker had 148 yards on 11 carries on Iowa's first four possessions. He had runs of 50, 41, and 18 yards.

The Hawkeyes scored zero points on those four drives.

Iowa turned the ball over on downs in Minnesota territory on its first possession and punted on its second. Placekicker Mike Meyer missed field goal attempts of 24 and 43 yards on the team's third and fourth drives.

The Hawkeyes had the ball and a 14-7 lead in the third quarter. Coker took five handoffs for 27 yards as Iowa reached Minnesota's 14-yard line with a chance to make it a two-possession game. Vandenberg faked a handoff to Coker and dropped back to pass but was sacked and fumbled.

Coker was the workhorse that dragged Iowa's offense into scoring position time and time again. The Hawkeyes failed to capitalize too often, though. And so Iowa lost to a 1-6 team despite having its running back gain more than 250 yards and score two touchdowns.

"It comes down to execution in that red-zone area," James Ferentz said. "With a guy like Marcus running hard, for whatever reason we just couldn't get it done."

Head coach Kirk Ferentz didn't have much to say about his running back's performance in the aftermath of the loss.

"He ran the ball well," he said. "Unfortunately, it went to waste."

Coker became the fourth running back in Iowa history to have multiple 200-yard rushing games. He had a dominant performance in a season in which he has been criticized for appearing tentative.

An embarrassing loss wiped all that out.

"I came here to win football games, and that's all I care about," Coker said. "I don't care if I get 30 yards, 30 carries. If we're not winning, I don't care."

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