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Notebook: AJ Derby to make first start for Razorbacks

BY BEN ROSS | SEPTEMBER 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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‘That’s just what Iowa football does’

Coming into this season, Iowa football fans were led to believe that they would be treated to a different offense from those of years past. Iowa was expected to run a hurry-up offense that lined up in the shotgun, with three or maybe even four wide receivers, waiting to catch a Jake Rudock pass.

Despite that being the case for much of the first game against Northern Illinois, Iowa has since regressed to its “22” formation of old, in which two tight ends and two running backs are part of the offensive packages.

Iowa used two fullbacks — Adam Cox and Macon Plewa — throughout much of its 27-21 win at Iowa State this past weekend, and the duo helped propel Iowa’s rushers to gain 218 yards on the ground in the victory.

“Very quietly, those guys are both doing a good job,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said of his fullbacks. “... They’ve earned our confidence. You know, back in the spring I felt really good about both guys and they’re doing a nice job. It gives us a really nice one-two punch, and we know we can count on them.”

Iowa’s offensive linemen are embracing the addition of Cox and Plewa in the huddle, too. Center Austin Blythe said the fullbacks remind him of offensive lineman, in that it’s their job to more or less sacrifice their bodies in order to create a gain on offense.

“That’s just what Iowa football does,” Blythe said.  “We can pass with a fullback in, we can run with a fullback in, it’s just how it happened Saturday. We had a lot of two-back packages in the game, so we just ran the ball. They’re the kind of guys who don’t really care about their body; they just sort of go into the hole and do what they’re told. They’re a typical fullback.”

Breach of security in Ames

Thefts were reported from the Iowa locker room at Jack Trice Stadium following the conclusion of the football game on Sept. 14, and so far, little leads have been discovered about who may have committed the crime. Iowa linebacker coach LeVar Woods tweeted after the game that his phone had been taken, and UI officials said eight others had their phones missing in addition to Woods.

Iowa players were unable to comment on the thefts, but Ferentz said it was the first time he’s ever been a part of such an occurrence during his coaching career, and he noted that Iowa State plans on replacing or compensating the victims for the stolen the items.

“… Sounds like everything’s being worked on right now,” Ferentz said.  “And things will be replaced, but it’s as you might imagine.

“I think we have really good security, and we were told that was the case there. So it’s just one of those unfortunate things. I don’t think it’s anything. It’s just one of those things that happens occasionally.”

Former Hawkeye gets his first start

AJ Derby is a name that’s likely familiar to Hawkeye fans. The Iowa City native was one of the most coveted recruits in recent memory when he elected to attend Iowa over a slew of other college programs in 2010. But after a run-in with the law and position change to linebacker, Derby opted to leave Iowa City and try his luck elsewhere.

After attending junior college and walking on at Arkansas this year, he may get his chance. Derby will start at quarterback for Bret Bielema and the Razorbacks on Saturday when they take on Rutgers in New Jersey.  

Bielema played with Derby’s father at Iowa in the late-80s and early ’90s, and he recruited Derby heavily when he ran the program at Wisconsin. In his weekly press conference, the coach said he was excited to see Derby get an opportunity to play and show what he can do to take the next step at the college level.

“I’m excited for A.J. for two reasons,” Bielema said during his weekly press conference. “First, I’ve known him for a long time, and he’s a tremendous competitor. He’s kind of a football junkie. The second thing is, because of his evolution as a player — he started at Iowa, went through some adversity, then went to a junior college, and played a lot. It’s not like he just sat on the bench somewhere else as a reserve.”


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