June 24, 2011
- 2011 Game Day Parking Changes
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPhone app!
- Iowa Football Wallpaper
Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Sophomore Marcus Coker has seven collegiate games under his belt, but the running back is ready to shoulder the load for the University of Iowa football team in 2011.
As a true freshman, Coker averaged 5.5 yards per carry, gaining 622 yards on 114 carries. His breakout performance came in an Insight Bowl victory over Missouri, where he rushed for a UI bowl record 219 yards on 33 carries with two touchdowns.
Coker knows his strong freshman performances bring future expectations.
“It’s exciting, but at the same time nerve-racking,” said Coker. “Butterflies are always good. If you have a lot to live up to then you’re going to push yourself harder. I feel like I have a lot put on me this year, so I am trying to live up to that.”
One of Coker’s summer classes — stress management — should help him learn to keep those butterflies in check.
“I have my own goals. I want to be the best. That is my goal, personally, it always has been. The number of carries and number of yards is going to happen as long as I do what I have to do.”
Sophomore Marcus Coker
“That’s the class that is stressing me out right now,” said Coker with a laugh. “It is a bunch of relaxation techniques, and I will learn how to deal with stress better. The way I deal with the stress now is I just don’t think about it.”
Coker doesn’t really think about the running back depth chart, either. In his mind, he looks at himself as the first and last one listed. He thinks incoming freshman Mika’il McCall is a player that could come in and push him and make a transition, similar to his, to the collegiate game.
“He is a tremendous athlete, and he’s getting his protections down quick,” said Coker. “He should be someone to be reckoned with during the season.”
If Coker can carry his production from an abbreviated rookie season into a full sophomore campaign, his numbers would be impressive. Using his freshman totals as a barometer, Coker would have rushed for more than 1,100 yards and scored six touchdowns over a 13-game schedule.
With that said, Coker doesn’t have a specific carry or a yard total that he is looking for in 2011.
“That’s probably looking too far ahead,” he said. “I have my own goals. I want to be the best. That is my goal, personally, it always has been. The number of carries and number of yards is going to happen as long as I do what I have to do.”
Coker has been working on getting faster and stronger this offseason. You name the type of drill — footwork, agility drills, bag drills, sprints — and he is taking part. He enjoys the offseason work to help him improve his overall game.
“It’s all about how you look at it,” said Coker. “I look at it as being fun, coming out to work every day. You’re tired when you leave and it feels good.”
Preparation for the upcoming season feels a little different this time for Coker, but his expectation of the team remains the same.
“I feel like we don’t have a lot of returning, established players, but everybody is hungry and wants to prove what they can do,” said Coker. “I expect us to come out every day, every game and give our all.
“I am not going to make any proclamations like Big Ten champions or anything, but I know we’re going to play our hearts out every day.”