Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday that his team’s top rusher has been medically cleared to play during Saturday’s 7 p.m., game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium — a battle between teams each sporting 2-0 Big Ten Conference records.
Whether Mark Weisman plays, however — that’s another story after the 631-yard rusher sprained his right ankle while scoring the tying touchdown in Iowa’s 19-16 two-overtime victory at Michigan State last Saturday.
“Mark’s MRI (Monday) was positive, but that being said, he does have a sprained ankle,” Ferentz said Tuesday. “Realistically, you’re talking about a guy trying to be a running back, not a guy doing something otherwise.”
If Weisman was an offensive lineman, there’s no question — he’d wrap tape around his ankle and play, Ferentz said.
“But it’s tough for a guy to just go out and play running back with a (sprained) ankle,” Ferentz said. “It’s really hard. This is the varsity we are playing this week, so it’s a whole different deal.”
That’s why Ferentz listed true freshman Greg Garmon as Saturday’s starter, and Jordan Canzeri as the backup.
That’s Garmon — with 14 career carries and 35 career yards, and Canzeri, who hasn’t played since undergoing ACL surgery last spring.
“We don’t have a big, impressive array of guys to put out there,” Ferentz said. “It’s basically all hands on deck.”
Damon Bullock, the Hawkeye’s No. 2 rusher this season, still has occasional headaches after suffering a concussion Sept. 15 against Northern Iowa. He is not expected to play, so Garmon gets first crack at running against a defense that allows an average of 128.5 rushing yards a game.
“I think Greg might have been a little wide-eyed on Saturday, but we have a lot of confidence in Greg, and not only Greg, but Jordan and Mike Malloy.”
Malloy is a true freshman from Sioux City who hasn’t played, and isn’t expected to play Saturday unless something happens to Garmon and Canzeri.
“We’re a little thin,” Ferentz said.
Garmon played the two overtimes against Michigan State, carrying four times for 6 yards.
“He ran out of bounds about eight times and that was OK, as long as the ball didn’t go on the ground,” Ferentz said. “A nice run would really have been good, but ball security is critical, especially at that juncture. He’ll be better this week.”
Canzeri piqued fans’ curiosity last season by rushing 31 times for 114 yards, including 58 on 22 Insight Bowl rushes against Oklahoma. He was expected to play a lot this season, until suffering the ACL injury in April.
“The cavalry is coming,” Ferentz said in jest, comparing Canzeri’s 31 career carries to Garmon’s 14.
A week ago, Ferentz insinuated Canzeri, who played last season as a true freshman, might redshirt. That’s changed.
“We are playing for today,” Ferentz said. “He’s been bugging me for a month, over a month, to get on the field. So there is no decision right now.
“We have a limited amount of guys, and we are trying to win games.”
Iowa’s options are “a little thin,” at running back this upcoming week, according to coach Kirk Ferentz. A look at the team’s available players and their career numbers with the Hawkeyes:
Mark Weisman, So. – 100 carries for 631 yards and eight touchdowns. Played last Saturday.
Greg Garmon, Fr. – 14 carries for 35 yards and zero touchdowns. He played last Saturday.
Jordan Canzeri, So. – 31 carries for 114 yards and zero touchdowns. Hasn’t played this season.
Mike Malloy, Fr. – Has not played.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football