Room for Everybody in UI Backfield

Sept. 18, 2012

Coach Ferentz News Conference Transcript (Sept. 18, 2012)

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Quick or powerful. Elusive or a plowshare. Mr. Outside or Mr. Inside.

“There’s room for everybody and if it fits into the equation that’s good,” University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly news conference in the Hayden Fry Football Complex.

Ferentz was referencing the running back position on his team, which is 2-1 overall heading into its third of four consecutive home games Saturday against Central Michigan.

In the last outing against Northern Iowa on Sept. 15, starting running back Damon Bullock went down. Then backup Greg Garmon went down. Welcome to the spotlight, converted fullback Mark Weisman.

Weisman bulled his way for 113 yards and scored three touchdowns during a 27-16 win against the Panthers. He also caught three passes for 33 yards. He is listed as the No. 1 running back for Saturday’s game against Central Michigan. True freshman Mike Malloy is listed as No. 2, and Ferentz says Malloy will play against the Chippewas.

“He would have played (against Northern Iowa), but at this time last week he turned up sick,” Ferentz said. “Malloy will play this week, unless he gets sick again.”

There could be room for a “new-old” name in the backfield as well: sophomore Jordan Canzeri, who rushed for 58 yards and caught six passes for 28 more yards and a touchdown in the 2011 Insight Bowl against Oklahoma. Canzeri suffered a knee injury during spring practice and was questionable for the 2012 season.

“There’s room for everybody and if it fits into the equation that’s good.”
Kirk Ferentz
UI head football coach

“He’s working back. We’ll let him work more this week than he did last week,” Ferentz said of Canzeri’s return. “He’s moving along a lot faster than I would ever have guessed, I’ll say that. Those things are hard to predict, and everybody is different, but he’s full speed ahead. He’s been cleared medically, it’s just a matter of: Does he look good enough and is he confident to play? At least he’s moving forward, and it’s good to have him back in a uniform practicing.”

Iowa tees it up Saturday against a Central Michigan team that allows 40 more yards per game through the air, although that includes statistics from a 41-7 loss to No. 11 Michigan State on Sept. 8.

“They have had a week to rest a little bit and we have got two games to look at on them and last year’s tape,” Ferentz said. “If you look at them, they are a team that runs the ball really well.”

Zurlon Tipton leads the Chippewas with 242 yards on 28 carries (8.6 average), followed by Anthony Garland with 114 yards on 20 attempts (5.7).

Most of Ferentz’s gathering with media dealt with the Hawkeye running back position, although he also touched on being encouraged by the progress of the offensive and defensive lines. Ferentz said the No. 3 wide receiver position is still being contested. The first two on the depth chart are senior Keenan Davis (14 catches, 170 yards) and sophomore Kevonte Martin-Manley (12-142).

“You’ve got (Don) Shumpert, and Jordan (Cotton) jumped in there and had a nice third down catch (against Northern Iowa),” Ferentz said. “We have a Help Wanted sign up, no doubt about that. That group has practiced a lot better since the start of August. I was hopeful and confident that that was going to show up last week. Moving forward, it has to or we’re in trouble.”

Shumpert has six catches for 29 yards; Cotton’s only grab of the season was an eight-yarder that moved the chains on third down Saturday.

The third-leading receiver for the Hawkeyes is tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz with 10 catches for 109 yards.

“We are counting on him to play well, and he’s on the right path,” Ferentz said. “He’s doing some good things now running and pass wise, so that’s good. The ball goes where it has to go based on how teams play us. But when we call on (Fiedorowicz), we really need him. He’s done some good things, and I’m really optimistic he’ll have a good year this year.”

UI kicker Mike Meyer has made 59 consecutive point-after kicks, and his next will tie Nate Kaeding’s school record of 60 in a row.

“If you can even get remotely mentioned with Nate I’m not in the comparison game, but if you’re in the same discussion, that’s good,” Ferentz said. “I would like to be included in that group with that kind of guy, that’s for sure.”

Saturday marks Iowa’s second game this season against a school from the Mid-American Conference. The Hawkeyes defeated defending conference champion Northern Illinois, 18-17, on Sept. 1.