March 29, 2012
- Video highlights from press conference/practice
- 2012 Spring Camp Central
- 2012 Signing Day Central
- 2011 Insight Bowl Central
- 2011 Fall Camp Central
- America Needs Farmers
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
- Iowa Football Wallpaper
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Lester Erb is one of two University of Iowa football assistant coaches to retain the same position assignment from a year ago. Still, he will spend much of the spring getting familiarizing with personnel.
Erb, who begins his fifth season as Hawkeye running backs coach after spending eight seasons with receivers, met with media Wednesday inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex. His objective this season will be to find a way to replace the 281 carries, 1,384 yards and 15 touchdowns that Marcus Coker compiled in 2011.
The preseason depth chart at running back includes three sophomores — Damon Bullock, Jordan Canzeri and De’Andre Johnson. Canzeri started the 2011 Insight Bowl and rushed for 58 yards on 22 carries. All three picked up valuable experience in December as they primed for Oklahoma and the bowl game.
“Those bowl preps are invaluable, just to be moving those guys forward,” Erb said. “We saw Jordan a little bit last year in the bowl game and he played pretty well for getting his first extensive action. Damon Bullock has jumped around (from running back to receiver back to running back) and found a home at the tailback position, and he’s doing a nice job. De’Andre Johnson is another guy that has an awful lot of talent and he’s going to be competing for the job.”
“I told the backs the other day, the more you catch the ball out of the backfield, the more the quarterback is going to look for you. We will look to catch a few more balls, but it comes down to, as long as we catch them, the quarterback has more trust in us.”
UI running backs coach
Last season Canzeri rushed 31 times for 114 yards, Johnson had 18 carries for 79, and Bullock carried the ball 10 times for 20. Canzeri caught six passes for 28 yards and a touchdown, and Bullock added one grab for 11 yards.
“I told the backs the other day, the more you catch the ball out of the backfield, the more the quarterback is going to look for you,” Erb said. “We will look to catch a few more balls, but it comes down to, as long as we catch them, the quarterback has more trust in us.”
UI quarterback James Vandenberg prepares for his second season as a starter. He is coming off a season where he completed 58.7 percent of his passes for an average of 232.5 yards a game with 18 more touchdowns than interceptions. Vandenberg likes what he sees from his backfield mates.
“They’ve been doing well. There are three of them taking most of the reps and they’re catching on quickly,” Vandenberg said. “There’s a lot of new stuff for them compared to the old system and they’re all young guys. We have 13 practices to keep moving forward.”
The `new stuff’ comes compliments of Greg Davis, who was hired to replace Ken O’Keefe as UI offensive coordinator. O’Keefe resigned Feb. 3 to become receivers coach for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. Davis begins his 39th season of coaching with his most-recent stint being at Texas from 1998-2010.
“(Davis) is a very knowledgeable guy and the best attribute about him is he’s a tremendous teacher and our players have taken to him on the offensive side of the ball,” Erb said. “The transition is going quite smoothly and it has been a pleasure to work with Greg. His track record, with the players he’s produced and the offenses he’s had, it’s going to be a great transition for us.”
Erb also commented on special teams, where he gave a playful hint of quarterback-turned punter John Wienke’s versatility.
“We faked one punt around here in 13 years, if you haven’t chacked,” Erb said. “I think it was David Bradley who threw it, who was an ex-quarterback, so we’ll see.”
To read a complete transcript of the press conference, including comments from head coach Kirk Ferentz, Erb, and defensive backs coach Darrell Wilson, click HERE.
The Hawkeyes return to Kinnick Stadium on Thursday for their fourth practice of the spring.