Oct. 2, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Having a 235-pound bulldozing running back averaging 169 rushing yards the last three games has given life to the University of Iowa offense.
“Any time you can run the ball, your play action gets opened up,” said first-year UI offensive coordinator Greg Davis at a Tuesday media conference inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex. “The opening play two weeks ago that Keenan (Davis) made such a nice play on is a direct result of being able to run the ball.
“The flea-flicker last week is a direct result of secondary players supporting the run. When you’re able to run the ball, that’s when you have an opportunity to fake, and perhaps get a chunk (of yards).”
Davis says the offense installed the flea-flicker during spring practice, and they have some other tricks up their sleeve if the opportunity presents.
“There are other plays like that that we’ll continue to use,” said Davis. “The same thing with the no- huddle. It will be a bigger part of what we’re doing as we continue to go into the strength of the schedule.”
“There are other plays like that that we’ll continue to use. The same thing with the no- huddle. It will be a bigger part of what we’re doing as we continue to go into the strength of the schedule.”
UI offensive coordinator Greg Davis
With sophomore Mark Weisman establishing himself as a workhorse in the Iowa backfield, gaining 507 yards and scoring seven touchdowns on 72 carries over the last three games, the Hawkeyes will have a thunder-and-lightning look when sophomore Damon Bullock returns from a concussion. Bullock gained 280 yards on 65 carries during the first two plus games.
Davis isn’t worried about how the return of Bullock will disturb the rotation… he’s thinking more about how it will shake the opposing defenses.
“I’m not so worried about carries and things like as things that we can do to affect the defense,” said Davis. “In terms of getting carries, what we’ve always done, is you give them both opportunities, you see who gets hot, and then you ride that guy for a while. It will be good to have two guys back there that have done it a little bit.”
Through the first five games, Davis noticed the increase in the comfort level among his receivers. Senior Keenan Davis is leading the team with 26 catches for 308 yards, while sophomore Kevonte Martin-Manley has 19 catches for 221 yards.
“Keenan is playing well now, not only with the football, but he’s blocking better than ever,” said Davis. “Kevonte is playing like we thought. He understands the various parameters that he has to be able to get open, and I think he’ll continue to get better.”
Davis is happy with the production from the tight end position. Sophomore Ray Hamilton and junior C.J. Fiedorowicz both had 20-plus yard completions against Minnesota and have held their own in running situations.
“C.J. is playing really well both with the football and without the football,” said Davis. “A lot of slant plays have been productive through the first five ball games, and he has given us an edge to be able to run the ball.”
After throwing 25 touchdowns in 2011, senior quarterback James Vandenberg has two in five games — a statistic that is baffling to Davis.
“It’s a big deal because I think we’re all a little bit surprised,” said Davis. “You’d like him to be better sure, but at the same time, you’re not going to force the issue.
“The thing he has done so well is, he hasn’t let it bother him. He played as mentally-sharp as he has played in the ball game Saturday (against Minnesota). He doesn’t get credit for some of the things he does that don’t show up in terms of getting us in and out of different situations.”
One thing that worries Davis is the lack of repetitions for second-string quarterback Jake Rudock.
“You’d love for your No. 2 to able to get some snaps prior to getting into conference play, but it has not set up that way,” said Davis. “If something happens to James, will I be concerned? Yes, I will be. We’re not going to try to manufacture a way to do it.”
The Hawkeyes return to action Oct. 13 at Michigan State beginning at 11 a.m. (CT). The game will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2.