Freshman Jordan Canzeri turned some heads when he was given an opportunity to play in the second half Saturday against the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
The 5-foot-9, 172-pound running back had five carries for 30 yards and also had a long run negated by a holding penalty.
“One of our concerns was his size, and one of those first runs, one guy came up to him at the line and he kept going,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I thought he looked really good out there.”
Sophomore Marcus Coker leads the Hawkeyes with 380 rushing yards on 87 carries, but there hasn’t been a clear No. 2 emerge behind the Insight Bowl MVP.
“We are always birthing a new running back somewhere along the line, I guess,” Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe said. “(Running back coach) Lester Erb is back in that same position he’s been in for the last four years. He’s getting guys ready all the time, brand new guys, they just arrived at the barn and they are just on their feet walking and now we expect a couple of them to start running.”
True freshman Mika’il McCall looked strong in the opener before going down with an ankle injury. Another true freshman, Damon Bullock, shifted from tailback to receiver and back to tailback and has carried the ball eight times for 22 yards.
Redshirt freshman De’Andre Johnson had eight carries against Tennessee Tech, but hasn’t gotten a carry since. Junior Jason White is listed at No. 2 but lined up in the slot against ULM and has two catches to just two carries.
Canzeri didn’t play the first three weeks, and then burned his redshirt against ULM.
“Canzeri’s situation, we kind of saw that coming during the week,” Ferentz said. “Jordan just kept impressing us.”
Ferentz indicated Thursday there wasn’t a reason to keep Canzeri to a small role going forward.
“We have got eight very tough teams ahead of us, and we are going to need everybody,” Ferentz said. “Jordan, he has really elevated himself a little bit in this equation.”
Iowa started recruiting Canzeri late, picking him up out of Troy High School (N.Y.) where he ran for 2,048 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior. Ferentz often compares him to New England Patriot running back Danny Woodhead, who is 5-foot-8, 195 pounds.
“At least in our minds he was being overlooked because of his size,” Ferentz said. “He looked like a really good, productive player and tough, hard-nosed guy on film.”
O’Keefe said the coaches were pleased how Canzeri seized his chance Saturday.
“We are happy with what we saw,” O’Keefe said. “There’s no doubt about it, and I think that’s what we expected him to be able to do.”
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The general manager in Kansas City is Scott Pioli, someone Ferentz worked with during his time in the NFL with Cleveland/Baltimore.
Ferentz shook off the NFL talk the way he has every time it has come up over the past decade.
“I’ve been here, what, 13 years?” Ferentz said. “All I’m focused on are these eight games right now.”
Ferentz signed a new contract last year that extended his tenure at Iowa to 2020. It has no language in it detailing a buyout of any kind, nor did his previous deal.
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Rogers and MacMillan are practicing “on a very limited basis,” Ferentz said. “But at least we have them back on the field, and that’s a positive for us.”
MacMillan, an offensive guard that started six games as a redshirt freshman last fall, has been out since August following sports hernia surgery.
Rogers, a sophomore fullback that played in 11 games last fall, has been out with an unspecified heart condition.
Ferentz said Rogers was cleared, but way behind because of the amount of time he’s missed.
“He’s been out since prior to Christmas,” Ferentz said. “He’s missed so much work of all types, whether it be strength conditioning.
“It’s just a matter of how quickly they can really get caught up and get back with everybody without putting themselves in danger of blowing out a hamstring or something like that.”
Lowery, a sophomore defensive back who broke his wrist in camp is expected to miss two to three more weeks. Lowery played as a true freshman and was listed on the two-deep coming into the fall.
McCall, who was hurt in the opener, has an outside chance of making it back from a broken ankle in November.
“But mentally we have to assume he’s not going to make it back,” Ferentz said. “I think given the position he plays, it’s probably unrealistic. But you never know.”
McCall led Iowa with 61 yards on nine carries against Tennessee Tech.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football