Star running back Marcus Coker has been suspended by Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz. That certainly takes luster off the Insight Bowl, eh?
I was curious to see if Coker could make a run at duplicating his 219-yard Insight Bowl rushing performance of last year. Well, not necessarily 219, but I could have seen Coker getting chunks of yardage against Oklahoma. The Sooners’ defense has talent, but it isn’t one of the nation’s best. It’s 61st in the nation in total defense, partly because it vies with several turbo-charged Big 12 offenses.
So now you lose the Big Ten’s No. 2 rusher for reasons unclear. Just like you lost Adam Robinson last year for a violation of team rules. But here’s the rub: You don’t have a Marcus Coker to step in like you did last year when Robinson was unavailable for the Insight. Mika’il McCall, who had 61 yards in the season-opener against Tennessee Tech before breaking an ankle? Also suspended. For what? For … a violation of team rules.
This thing with Iowa and running backs has gone way past weird. Being a running back who actually makes meaningful contributions at Iowa means one thing: You won’t make it to Senior Day. That’s not to say Coker won’t get back on the team in good standing, because I honestly don’t yet know his offense as of 5:15 p.m., Tuesday.
Brandon Wegher was so good in the Orange Bowl two years ago as a freshman. He never had a second act at Iowa. Adam Robinson was so good during the regular season last year. He never made it to the Insight Bowl, and is now at Minnesota-Duluth.
Coker was so good this year, with 1,384 rushing yards, 21 catches for 157 yards, seven 100-yard rushing games, and six games with two touchdown runs. The Big 12 has all sorts of marvelous skill players. Baylor (Terrance Ganaway) and Oklahoma State (Joseph Randle) are terrific backs who piled up 1,347 and 1,193 rushing yards, respectively. But that league has few pounders who rival Coker.
Here’s who remains:
De’Andre Johnson, redshirt freshman. 18 carries, 79 yards. All in mop-up time, almost all of it against Tennessee Tech and Indiana. Appeared in five games.
Jordan Canzeri, true freshman: 9 carries, 56 yards. All of it was accrued against Louisiana Monroe and Indiana. Appeared in six games, missed the last two because of injury.
Damon Bullock, true freshman.: 1 carry, 23 yards, against Tennessee Tech in the season-opener. Appeared in five games, but just one of the last eight.
Jason White, senior: 3 carries, 12 yards. A special-teams player, though he was listed as No. 2 running back for much of the first half of the season.
Brad Rogers, sophomore fullback: 1 carry, 2 yards.