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Run, Run, Run, Hawks say

BY JORDAN HANSEN | JUNE 16, 2015 5:00 AM

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For the past three seasons, the Iowa running game consisted mostly of heavy doses of Mark Weisman with a sprinkling of whatever able-bodied backs were available.

The question now, however, is how to replace the 599 touches that Weisman had over that span.

Currently, the overwhelming assumption is that junior LeShun Daniels and senior Jordan Canzeri will split the majority of the carries. Sophomore Akrum Wadley may also see some carries, and Derrick Mitchell Jr., a wideout turned running back, may also find some playing time.

“It’s a real good competition,” Daniels said at Iowa’s media availability on June 10. “All of us bring different types of things to the table.”

Daniels is seen as the thunder to Canzeri’s lightning, while Wadley and Mitchell are also seen as speedsters.

The competition — though it’s not exactly that — boils down to whether coach Kirk Ferentz wants to start the game with a dominating power back in Daniels or the shiftier Canzeri. At this point, it seems that Iowa won’t have the feature back they had in Weisman but something more akin to a position played by committee.

With that said, quarterback C.J. Beathard could likely see his own number called this season as well.

If done correctly, it’s something that could cause defensive backs to respect Beathard’s running ability, which would open things up for the rest of the offense.

“I definitely think it’s going to be a big thing in our offense,” senior wideout Tevaun Smith said. “When no one’s open, he’ll be able to scramble and make people miss.”

George Kittle, next man in

With Jake Duzey continuing to rehab from a knee injury and with Henry Krieger Coble apparently in and out of the lineup, junior George Kittle will probably see a great deal more playing time than anyone originally thought.

Kittle has just 6 receptions for 133 yards in his career, but he could see a pretty significant amount of targets early in the season.

“I trust George; he has to step up,” Beathard said. “He’s got to take a bigger role than he had planned. I think he will, and I think he’s ready for that.”

Beathard more comfortable

With the turmoil surrounding Iowa’s starting quarterback now resolved — for the time being — Beathard says that he is much more comfortable coming into this season than he was a year ago.

“I think a big part of it is the reps that I’ve been getting,” he said. “Not having to split reps — it just feels better.”

With Jake Rudock now at Michigan, this year’s Iowa offense will be tailored directly to Beathard, something that was not the case a year ago.

In his one true start last year, he went 17-of-27 with 245 yards and a touchdown with 1 interception in a win over Purdue. He also played significantly during the TaxSlayer Bowl, completing 13-of-23 for 145 yards with 2 touchdowns and a pick.

That might raise a few eyebrows about his accuracy, but with more time working with the offense, the thinking is those issues will be fixed through his increased number of repetitions.

“I feel better with the receivers,” Beathard said. “I think we’re on a better page together.”

Follow @jordyhansen for news, updates, and analysis on the Iowa football team.


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