Oct. 30, 2014
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Big Ten Conference is loaded with dangerous kick returners. The University of Iowa has defended that with the powerful right leg of junior Marshall Koehn.
Through the first seven games, Koehn has kicked off 35 times, with 27 going for touchbacks.
“I can’t tell you how valuable that is to us,” said Chris White, who coaches Hawkeye running backs and special teams. “That is a weapon.”
Koehn has made his last five field goal attempts with a long of 52 yards after starting 2-for-5. From 40-52 yards, he is perfect on three attempts.
“It goes back to Marshall’s toughness,” White said. “He missed those ones early and he could have tanked it, especially as a kicker; it’s a mental thing. He has worked on it extremely hard and more than anything, he has been mentally tough.”
White has seen the UI running game pick up in the last two games. The Hawkeyes averaged 4.7 yards on 44 carries with three touchdowns Oct. 11 during a 45-29 win against Indiana. The next week senior running back Mark Weisman averaged 7.8 yards on 10 attempts and scored twice.
“They have grinded it through, it hasn’t been easy,” White said. “We have been tough enough to get through it and I think it is going to pay off for us down the road in the next five games.”
While Weisman is fresh, sophomore LeShun Daniels, Jr., is out with an injury, and junior Jordan Canzeri is “banged up a little bit.” That could provide more opportunities for freshmen speedsters Jonathan Parker and Akrum Wadley.
“Jonathan Parker has created a spark for us and we’re going to try to get him more touches,” White said. “We’re going to see what the young Akrum Wadley can do this week, too. Akrum has done a lot of work, he’s a very exciting player, and I think you’re going to like what you see.”
Iowa (5-2 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) hosts Northwestern (3-4, 2-2) on Saturday in Kinnick Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled of 11:01 a.m. (CT).