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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa assistant football coach Lester Erb has no trouble stay busy on the practice field as the Hawkeyes prepare for one opponent after another from week to week.
As the coach of the Iowa running back, Erb works with the Hawkeyes fullbacks and running backs, making sure everyone at both positions is ready to go on Saturday. Along with that, Erb spends a portion of his day working with Iowa’s special teams units.
As Iowa opened the 2012 season with its 18-17 win over Northern Illinois in Chicago, Erb was pleased with the performances of the guys he works with on a daily basis. On the other hand, he says there is always room for improvement.
“I think this week has gone real well,” said Erb, following preparation for the first home game of the season Saturday against Iowa State. “Obviously, we had some things to work on coming out of the NIU game. But, I think the guys have really stepped up as a group and had a good, solid week of practice.”
Sophomore running back Damon Bullock had a breakout performance in the season opener, rushing 30 times for 150 yards and a touchdown. In addition, fullback Mark Weisman saw his first action as a Hawkeye and played well.
“I think all the guys, really competed hard,” said Erb of the first week. “They all know they have work to do. But I’m really pleased with the attitude they bring to practice every day, they come out here and compete; they are really improvement driven. “We’re going to go through some youth related mistakes, but they are working hard and I think we will see great improvement as the season progresses.
“It just turned out last week that Damon was doing a good job, we were running well, so we just stayed with him,” noted Erb. “He had the hot hand. We wanted to get a couple other guys in a little more; I don’t envision someone getting 30 carries every game.”
Iowa’s special teams played a key role in the first win over the season, getting contributions from both young and old. Senior John Wienke had the first punt of his career in the fourth quarter, and senior Greg Castillo downed the kick at the one-yard line to pin NIU in poor field position. In addition, true freshman Connor Kornbrath averaged 41.3 yards on his three punts, with the first attempt of his career traveling 512 yards.
“It was great to see John get in there and hit a great punt for us, and also for Greg to be able to get down there and downing it at the one,” said Erb. “That is great for their confidence. For Connor, it was especially pleasing. The first punt of career, he has hit feet in the end zone and he comes away with a 51-yard punt for a net 46 yards.
“I was kidding Connor that there were more people in the stadium than in his hometown (Bridgeport, W. Va.),” added Erb. “He just laughed it off. But he is a well-grounded kid, and the stage was not too big for him. I thought he went out and performed well, and he’ll get better as the season moves on.”
Junior kicker Mike Meyer tied his personal best with four field goals in the opening win, including a 50-yarder in the fourth quarter.
“Mike is a veteran and has been around a long time,” concluded Erb. “He has an awful lot of experience and has done some great things.”