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Coker tackles his fumble problem head-on

[ 1 ] September 6, 2011 |

Iowa City, Ia. -- Iowa tailback Marcus Coker knows he had better hang onto the football against Iowa State on Saturday. There are facts to prove it.

The Hawkeyes scored 28 points off Iowa State turnovers during a 35-3 Iowa win in 2009.

And Iowa State scored all its points off turnovers during a 23-3 defeat of the Hawkeyes in 2005.

Translated: He who holds onto the ball likely fares better during Saturday’s 11 a.m. rivalry game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.

“I think we turned it over seven times, (and) it seemed like 17,” Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz said while recalling the 2005 game Tuesday, “so turnovers throughout this series have historically been big.”

This pertains to Coker because he fumbled twice during his first four carries in last Saturday’s 34-7 victory against Tennessee Tech at Kinnick Stadium.

“I feel like I have a lot to prove to myself,” the sophomore said. “It’s one of those things where it eats at you, but you try to block it out of your head because you’ve got another game.”

Coker would prefer talking about the upcoming game that matches teams that won season openers, but he doesn’t duck the fumble question.

“It was a big mess-up on my part,” he said. “It happened twice. You can’t act like it didn’t happen. It happened, and I have to fix it.”

The fact Coker has fumbled three times in eight career games gnaws at him so much that he even dissects his decision about gloves.

“I started the game with gloves, and then the first (fumble) came, so I took them off, and then I fumbled again,” he said.

He didn’t blame the gloves, nor did he blame the rain during the game.

“I watched the plays — there was no reason for the fumbles to happen,” he said. “There’s not much you can say about the fumbles. They shouldn’t have happened.”

His early plan is to wear gloves on Saturday.

“Seventy-five and sunny,” he said of what he hears regarding the forecast. “That means gloves.”

It also likely means an actual cellphone talk with his mother after the game.

“She always texts me, but (Saturday), she knew not to call,” Coker said. “She knows me. She knows that I wasn’t going to be in the best of moods.”

He finally returned his mom’s texts. Then came the phone call.

“She was like, it’s your first game,” Coker said. “She told me to look forward to the next game … that you can’t keep your head down all season.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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