Sept. 18, 2009
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Editor’s Note The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Official Sports Report, an e-newsletter delivered daily to friends of the UI and fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes. To subscribe to this free service, click HERE.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Make no mistake, the fullback’s primary task in the University of Iowa offense is to block. But junior Brett Morse is enjoying the benefits of an occasional touch, which has helped the Hawkeyes to victory during the first two weeks of the college football season.
After wins against Northern Iowa and Iowa State, Morse has carried the ball three times for 26 yards and caught three passes for nine yards and a touchdown. His 8.7-yard per carry average is the highest total for any UI rusher with three or more attempts.
“Brett has a little more versatility than the average fullback,” UI offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe said. “We’re not afraid to let him carry the ball or throw the ball to him. He’s a little more valuable in that regard.”
On Sept. 12, Morse hauled in a 1-yard scoring pass from quarterback and best friend Ricky Stanzi, giving the Hawkeyes a 7-3 lead over Iowa State. Iowa went on to score 35 unanswered points.
“Obviously it was a blast,” Morse said of his first career touchdown. “It felt a little better than the ones from high school. It was a huge rush. It’s definitely nice to get the ball in your hands and get more involved in the offense.”
Morse scored 31 career touchdowns while playing quarterback at Hinsdale High School in Willowbrook, Ill. O’Keefe said that helps him “see the big picture” in Iowa’s offensive attack.
“The job’s not always glamorous,” O’Keefe said. “All of the things Brett’s doing are part of our everyday schemes. Now he’s had some opportunities because it worked out his way, more than we’re trying to get him the ball. It’s almost that simple.”
Last season in 12 games, Hawkeye fullbacks combined to carry the ball three times (for two yards) and catch 10 passes for 62 yards. Morse had five receptions a year ago, but his first collegiate rush was a 16-yard pick-up during the season-opening win against Northern Iowa on Sept. 5.
Finishing the day with a beefy statistics line doesn’t matter to Morse as long as the Hawkeyes emerge victorious.
“Obviously it was a blast. It felt a little better than the ones from high school. It was a huge rush. It’s definitely nice to get the ball in your hands and get more involved in the offense.”
Junior fullback Brett Morse
“If it’s carrying the ball a couple times, catching a couple passes or blocking that week, I’ll do whatever it takes to help the team win,” Morse said.
Morse also played strong safety in high school and he tried two linebacker positions at Iowa before moving to fullback. Since arriving in Iowa City, Morse has added between 30-35 pounds.
“You notice two things right away,” O’Keefe said. “The first is how much stronger he’s become because of what coach (Chris) Doyle and the strength and conditioning program has done. No. 2 is how well he’s picked things up and what a great job (UI running backs coach) Lester Erb has done developing him and making sure he understands the system like he does inside and out.”
The Hawkeyes will face their stiffest test of the young season Sept. 19 when undefeated Arizona comes to Kinnick Stadium for “Blackout Saturday.” The Wildcats will undoubtedly receive a dose of Morse opening holes for Hawkeye running backs Adam Robinson, Brandon Wegher, Paki O’Meara or Jeff Brinson. They better also prepare for Morse contributing a timely run or pass reception.
“Brett’s just a hungry guy,” O’Keefe said. “He wants to do well. It’s important to him, and he doesn’t want to let his teammates down.”