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Iowa notebook: Injuries keep RBs Bullock, Weisman separated

BY SAM LOUWAGIE | OCTOBER 31, 2012 6:30 AM

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Theoretically, they would be perfect complements.

One is a powerful, straight-line runner who bruises his way through defenses. The other is shifty, instinctive, and runs away from defenders. Together, they could provide Iowa with a multidimensional running attack.

But eight weeks into the season, a Mark Weisman-Damon Bullock backfield is still just hypothetical. And after head coach Kirk Ferentz said Weisman would not play on Nov. 3 against Indiana, it could stay that way for a while.

“Everybody always talks about it. If both of us were healthy, it’d be really good for this offense,” Bullock said. “Right now, we’re just trying to get there. I’m healthy now, and I’m just waiting on Mark. Hopefully, he’ll be all right.”

Weisman suffered what appeared to be a leg injury against Northwestern and left the game in the first half. He had been limited the week before with an ankle injury.

Bullock replaced him against the Wildcats and rushed for 107 yards.

Weisman emerged when Bullock went down with a concussion on Sept. 15 after he had started the season strong. Weisman put up four straight 100-plus-yard rushing efforts, becoming one of the best stories in college football.

Now, Bullock is back after a five-week recovery, and he doesn’t appear to have lost the quickness and field vision that helped him gain 150 yards in the team’s season-opener.

A backfield tandem would present exciting options, Ferentz said. Bullock and Weisman have combined for 1,048 rushing yards this season. But for now, Iowa will have to continue its frustrating game of musical running backs.

“There are some options, but the first trick is to get them both on the field healthy together,” Ferentz said. “We’ll look forward to that day, and then we’ll think about it then.”

Meanwhile, Bullock said he is working to copy some of Weisman’s moves.

“A couple times, I’ve tried to pick people up with one arm and throw them like he does,” he said. “But it doesn’t work sometimes.”

Hawkeyes dealing with criticism

Fans booed the Hawkeyes after the first half of the team’s 38-14 loss to Penn State. And fans were chippy in the coach’s weekly call-in show last week, one suggesting he should return to Cleveland, where he was once an NFL assistant. Iowa has been routed two weeks in a row, and criticism is mounting.

The Hawkeyes are trying to tune out the outside noise.

“I have always understood that people will react very positively — probably too positively — when we do well, and when we lose, it’s the opposite,” Ferentz said. “The world is not ending [when we lose], and it’s not the creation of a new civilization when we win.”

Quarterback James Vandenberg said the team needed to focus on its own play.

“They have a right to be upset,” he said about the fans. “When you don’t score points, you’re not going to get many fans. It comes down to the players executing. We feel that burden, and we’re doing our best every week in practice, just looking for that opportunity to go prove it on the field.”


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