IOWA CITY, Iowa – Life after Shonn Greene has been less than spectacular for the Iowa football team’s once-vaunted rushing attack.
Only once since Greene’s record-breaking season in 2008 has an Iowa running back rushed for at least 1,000 yards in a season.
Marcus Coker rushed for 1,334 yards as a sophomore in 2011 before leaving the team late in the season. The closest anybody has come since then was Mark Weisman’s 975 rushing yards in 2013.
“It is a little surprising to hear, but we have had guys leave the program early and injuries stop other guys from playing,” Iowa senior running back Jordan Canzeri said Thursday about Iowa having so few 1,000-yard rushers lately. “But if any single one of us running backs gets that hot hand and is playing the role as that key starter, I could definitely see any one of us being able to get that job done and get that thousand yards.
“That’s what we’re all going to strive for because getting that is obviously going to help our offense out.”
Canzeri now sits atop the depth chart after being hampered by injuries during his first three seasons. He and junior LeShun Daniels are expected to compete for playing time, along with sophomores Akrum Wadley and Derrick Mitchell and redshirt freshman C.J. Hilliard. Sophomore Jonathan Parker also might be in the mix at running back, but he was used more at receiver during spring practice.
Canzeri made sure to include all the running backs when talking to reporters on Thursday about the challenge of replacing Mark Weisman, who led Iowa in rushing in each of the past three seasons.
“We all have great attributes and bring something to the table,” said Canzeri, who enters this season with 1,089 career rushing yards. “I wouldn’t doubt that you’ll see a lot of us. I could see whatever running back we have, if they went in, I wouldn’t doubt that they could get the job done. And that’s just good for all of us.”
Canzeri also thinks there is potential for Iowa to have a 1,000-yard rusher this season. However, he didn’t say who he thinks it could be.
“Coach says whoever is doing really well and has that hot hand will be the one who sees the field a little more in that game,” said Canzeri, who was named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List this week. “But none of us are really expecting to do it over one another.
“But we should be expected individually that if I do get out on that field I’m going to get that job done because at that point in time it’s for your whole team.”
Having a 1,000-yard rusher is often a good sign that an offense is clicking, especially at Iowa where the running game is so important.
But first things first. Iowa only had a 100-yard rusher in three games last season.
“We do want to do a good job with that because when all of us work together things like that happen,” Canzeri said. “So we definitely want that to happen every game just because that means we’re definitely doing a great job.”
KOEHN ON SCHOLARSHIP: Marshall Koehn has a chance to start for the Iowa football team at two positions.
So it would make sense for him to be scholarship.
Koehn finally was rewarded with a scholarship this summer after a 2014 season in which he established himself as Iowa’s top kicker. The senior from Solon is also competing with Dillon Kidd to be the starting punter.
Koehn has more time to practice both roles this summer, because thanks to being on scholarship, he doesn’t have a full-time construction job for the first time in four years.
“It helps this summer definitely,” Koehn said Thursday.
Koehn said he prefers staying busy as a football player and would welcome the added responsibility of punting.
“I like doing it all,” he said. “The more jobs I can do here, that would be awesome.”
Koehn isn’t worried that punting will hurt his kicking.
“Early, I might have thought that it kind of would have some kind of effect,” said Koehn, who made 12-of-16 field-goal attempts last season. “But then this summer I’ve been doing them both and I feel pretty good.”