SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Days after suspension, Iowa running back Marcus Coker said a Facebook “thank you” to fans Thursday afternoon from his hometown in Maryland.
On Tuesday, the sophomore from Beltsville, Md., was suspended from next week’s Insight Bowl after violating the UI Student-Athlete Code of Conduct. Coker was the Big Ten’s second-leading rusher this season with 1,384 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Ferentz didn’t discuss Coker’s situation when the Hawkeyes landed in Phoenix on Thursday. Iowa also will be without freshman running back Mika’il McCall, who also is out for next week’s game. He was suspended after the Purdue game on Nov. 19 for an unspecified violation of team rules.
Freshmen De’Andre Johnson, Damon Bullock and Jordan Canzeri will pair with senior Jason White and sophomore fullback Brad Rogers for running back duties.
“If we have to do it by committee, we’ll do it by committee,” Ferentz said upon the team’s arrival Thursday. “Whatever it takes. Not only are they willing and able, they’ve been practicing well and playing with the guys who are healthy. It’s really no different if a guy was to sprain an ankle or if he had a medical condition that didn’t allow him to play, we’re not going to go out there and call the game off. We’re going to go out and compete. Everyone has to pick up the slack a little bit.”
Of course, Coker’s resume was short before earning offensive MVP honors with 219 yards and two TDs in last year’s Insight victory over Missouri. Ferentz went back to the 2001 Alamo Bowl for another example. Aaron Greving replaced injured starter Ladell Betts and took MVP honors with 115 yards and a TD.
“We’ve got guys who are capable,” Ferentz said. “We’ve been down this path before.”
Iowa (7-5) resumes practice for No. 19 Oklahoma (9-3) on Friday at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale.
“I think we pretty much locked in for the last seven or eight attempts since the first Orange Bowl,” Ferentz said. “We’ve decided on what we like to do. We just adjust it given what our final schedule and bowl date is. I think we’ve got a good start to our preparation. This is a new phase.”