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Ferentz suspends McCall; Coker running solo

[ 23 ] November 22, 2011 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Now, Marcus Coker really is running solo.

Tuesday’s announcement that Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz suspended true freshman running back Mika’il McCall for at least Friday’s 11 a.m. game at Nebraska, means the durable Coker again could have all the running back carries – this time against a bruising defense usually built to stop the run.

It’s because McCall broke a team rule that Ferentz would not divulge.

“(McCall) violated team policy and he won’t be with us,” Ferentz said during his weekly press conference.

McCall did not immediately return an e-mail, and the phone at his parents’ residence went unanswered. A check of local law enforcement agencies turned up nothing.

When asked to be more specific, Ferentz wouldn’t.

“He won’t be with us. Violated team policy,” he said a second time.

Iowa students are not in school this week due to Thanksgiving. Ferentz said he learned of the rule violation after last Saturday’s victory at Purdue – in which McCall carried the ball twice.

“I think the fact he’s not going this week — it’s probably safe to assume that it’s something I learned afterwards,” Ferentz said.

Ferentz was uncertain if McCall would return for the bowl game.

“I haven’t made that decision yet,” he said. “We’ll just take it a week at a time right now. I’m just trying to get through Friday. That’s where I’m at.”

With Jordan Canzeri still nursing a hamstring injury, Coker’s backups are Jason White and De’Andre Johnson, who have combined for 21 carries and 91 yards during the Hawkeyes’ 7-4 season.

Therefore, Coker will have ample opportunity to build on his 1,297 yards that have come on a Big Ten Conference-leading 263 carries.

That’s the fifth-most carries among major-college backs, and it comes with a price.

“I ease out of bed on Sunday mornings,” Coker said after carrying 30 times for 139 yards at Purdue. McCall was Coker’s backup until breaking an ankle in the season-opener against Tennessee Tech. He rushed nine times for 61 yards, drew the excitement of fans – and then was sidelined.

McCall’s reappearance was Saturday, when he fumbled on his second — and final carry of the day.

Thus, Friday could be Coker right, Coker left and Coker up the middle.

“I ask him on Sunday’s if he’s sore, and very rarely does he ever say is he,” quarterback James Vandenberg said. “You never hear him complain. He’s a big boy.”

Coker is a big boy preparing with a quicker turnaround, considering Iowa usually plays on Saturdays.

“I’m proud of him,” Ferentz said. “We’ll see if we can get him through Friday, and then go from there.”

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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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