Clear Mind Leads to Production

Oct. 21, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Marcus Coker has a clear mind, and it’s producing results for the University of Iowa football team.

The sophomore running back is coming off a 22-carry, 127-yard performance — his third 100-yard game of the season — in the Hawkeyes’ 41-31 victory over Northwestern. He says it’s a byproduct of not overanalyzing his play.

“When I think too much is when I start having troubles, I try to think as little as possible,” said Coker, who leads the team with 578 rushing yards and six touchdowns. “I am just thinking about getting my pads down, that’s about it.

“It’s crazy when I start over-thinking things. You’re thinking one thing and it goes to another and to another, and it’s all in a split second. My mind gets jumbled up.”

When Coker is going good, he’s getting downfield, keeping his pads low — playing to his strengths. He’s not shying away from contact, rather embracing it. When he seeks it out, it can result in him bulling over an unassuming defensive back in the secondary en route to a sizable gain.

“I can’t imagine it’s a lot of fun tacking him,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. “If you’re a strong guy, run strong.”

“I’d rather hit them before they can it me,” said Coker, who ranks sixth in the Big Ten Conference in rushing (96.3) and all-purpose yards (112.0) and is tied for sixth in touchdowns (six). “It is probably going to hurt more if I don’t see it coming. If I go in and attack it, then its force meeting force instead of somebody coming and hitting me.”

It was nearly a year ago (Nov. 6, 2010) when Coker made his first career start — in his third career game — at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. He posted his first 100-yard game, finishing with 129 yards on 22 carries in Iowa’s 18-13 win.

“It was exciting, but I was really nervous before the game,” said Coker. “It was probably the most nervous I have ever been before a game.”

Heading into his second go-round against Indiana, Coker knows the UI rushing attack will have an opportunity to have a big day, going against a Hoosier defense that is giving up 227.4 yards on the ground per game.

“Anywhere that a defense has been struggling, we need to exploit that,” said Coker.

Coker is a player that wears his emotions on his sleeve. He was down following Iowa’s 13-3 loss in the Big Ten Conference opener at Penn State before being in higher spirits following the victory over Northwestern.

“As long as we win, I am fine,” said Coker. “I get down when we lose.”

Iowa squares off against Indiana tomorrow at 11 a.m. (CT) inside Kinnick Stadium. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network with Eric Collins, Chris Martin and Dionne Miller calling the action.