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Hawkeye offense will be anybody’s guess

[ 6 ] December 26, 2011 |

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – So you think Iowa’s offense is predictable under coordinator Ken O’Keefe.

You think you know the strategy on third-and-short, second-and-long, and first-and-10 for Friday’s 9 p.m. Insight Bowl against Oklahoma at Sun Devil Stadium.

You know when James Vandenberg is going to run the quick quarterback sneak – and then you hold your breath that an official doesn’t call off-sides.

The slant pass to Marvin McNutt? You know when it’s coming, too. Or so you think.

This just in: Throw away your script.

How Iowa tries to score against the quickest defense it will face this season was still in formative stages during Monday’s workout at Chaparral High School.

“Hopefully they won’t know what’s going on,” offensive guard Adam Gettis said. “Hopefully we do know what’s going on.”

The offense is in flux after coach Kirk Ferentz suspended running back Marcus Coker for breaking an unspecified rule. That’s 281 carries and 1,714 yards back home watching the game on television back home in Beltsville, Md.

That’s 80.1 percent of the Hawkeyes’ rushing yards unavailable.

“To be perfectly honest, I haven’t even thought about (Coker),” O’Keefe said after practice. “It doesn’t even enter your mind — 280 carries? I’m not sure I would have known <FZ,1,0,8>that exactly, but it’s not available, so it doesn’t matter.

“I don’t know how it’s going to end up. Whoever gets the hottest hand probably is where it will go.”

Predictable? Not Friday as Iowa tries to improve on a 7-5 season.

Replacement candidates Jordan Canzeri, De’Andre Johnson, Damon Bullock, Jason White and even starting fullback Brad Rogers are in the midst of tryouts to see who carries the ball against a team that has allowed an average of just 139.6 rushing yards a game during a 9-3 season.

“You never forget the plays,” Rogers said. “I played running back for a year-and-a-half when I got (to Iowa). It’s pretty much come right back to me, but nobody knows who’s going to be back there. Nobody knows.

“I don’t think anyone can predict who it’s going to be right now.”

Therefore, with Coker and backup Mika’il McCall suspended for the game, Iowa’s offense will be predictably unpredictable.

“We’ll know more after that first quarter when we know how Oklahoma is going to play us,” O’Keefe said. “That will determine how everything goes from there.”

If the running game doesn’t go well, there’s always the no-huddle offense that enabled the Hawkeyes to rally for victory against Pittsburgh.

“(Oklahoma) can worry about that, except they face that every year in camp, and every year in spring ball,” Ferentz said. “Nobody runs it faster than Oklahoma. They have the fastest-paced offense we’ve seen.

“If we use it, it won’t be anything that’s going to rattle their cage at all. They’ll probably be back there yawning, quite frankly. It’s not a huge part of our thinking at this point, but you never know.

“If it fits, it fits.”

No huddle — or no no-huddle?

“They practice against the fastest no-huddle in the country, probably,” O’Keefe said of Oklahoma. “But you never know. “

So stay tuned.

“We’ll just have to see what’s clicking,” quarterback James Vandenberg said. “Don’t rule anything out.”

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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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