Erb: `We Feel good about the running back situation'

Nov. 12, 2010

EVANSTON, Ill. — Iowa’s offensive backfield received a boost this week when leading rusher Adam Robinson, a sophomore with six 100-yard games under his belt this season, was cleared to play in tomorrow’s Big Ten Conference football clash at Northwestern.

Robinson has 100-yard efforts against Iowa State (156), Michigan (143), Ball State (115), Wisconsin (114) and Eastern Illinois (109). A mild concussion kept him at home last week when the Hawkeyes defeated Indiana, 18-13. True freshman Marcus Coker stepped up and gained 129 yards on the ground.

“We feel a lot better,” UI running backs coach Lester Erb said. “We found out a little bit about Marcus Coker last week — it’s really the first time he has had to carry the whole load. Getting Adam back this week and having Brad Rogers and Paki (O’Meara) — we feel good about the situation right now.”

In eight games, Robinson has run for 806 yards on 172 carries with 10 touchdowns; in three games, Coker has gained 229 yards on 48 attempts.

The Hawkeye players, coaches and support staff have completed a brief tour of Ryan Field and have returned to the team hotel in Skokie. The visiting team has won the last four meetings in this series; Iowa’s most recent victory was in 2007 when it overcame a 14-7 halftime deficit to win 28-17.

Erb’s running backs will face a Wildcat defense that is sixth in the league in rushing (141.4) and 10th in passing (247.3). The Hawkeyes will continue their trend of a balanced offensive approach.

“Whenever we go into a game we want to be 50-50 and we want to go out and execute,” Erb said. “We want to do what Iowa does — have a good running game and balance it out with the play-action game.”

Last week at Penn State, the Wildcats surrendered 260 yards on the ground; Iowa averages 159 rushing yards a game (seventh in the Big Ten). Hawkeye backs have caught 30 passes.

In his most recent outing against Michigan State, Robinson carried the ball 20 times for 69 yards and a touchdown. Iowa has gone six quarters without a rushing touchdown, but the odds of snapping that streak improved with the return of Robinson, who leads the team with 66 points.

“Adam’s the starting running back for us,” Erb said. “To get him back with all the production and all the experience he’s given us this year is obviously going to be a shot to our offense.”

Northwestern has allowed just three 100-yard rushers this season: DeLeon Eskridge of Minnesota (119), Rob Henry of Purdue (132) and Evan Royster of Penn State (134).

“They’re extremely hungry and they play hard,” Erb said of the Wildcat defense. “They give tremendous, tremendous effort and they’re real solid defensively. We have our work cut out for us.”

Iowa’s offense compiled 445 yards during the victory at Indiana, the most yards for the Hawkeyes since gaining 562 against Ball State on Sept. 25. Part of the reason for the increased output is an improving offensive line that starts two sophomores and a junior.

“They’re doing a tremendous job and obviously coach (Reese) Morgan does a great job with those guys,” Erb said. “It’s good to see those guys growing and getting a little bit better each week.”

No. 13 Iowa (7-2 overall, 4-1 Big Ten) and Northwestern (6-3, 2-3) kick off at 11 a.m. The game is being broadcast by ESPN.