There are big picture and “who’s the fullback” questions that come out of Greg Garmon’s departure.
The big picture question is did Iowa maximize Greg Garmon’s skill set? He played in 10 games as a true freshman. He rushed 38 times for 122 yards and caught eight passes for 57. He showed a fluidity in space. He seemed jittery running inside, but, let’s not forget, he mangled an elbow against UNI and missed just one game. So, Garmon was tough.
He also had obvious obstacles on the depth chart. He started the season as No. 2 behind Damon Bullock, who carried 30 times for 150 yards in the opener. Iowa backs have logged 30 carries in a game just eight times in the last six seasons. Bullock had 77 yards on just 13 carries against UNI before suffering a concussion and missing four games.
In the same game, Garmon injured his elbow and little-known fullback Mark Weisman started to get carries at running back. From the second quarter of UNI to the first quarter of Minnesota two weeks later, Weisman logged every carry for the Hawkeyes, going 58 straight. Garmon finally broke that up against Minnesota.
When Weisman suffered an ankle injury, Garmon was the No. 1 against Penn State. Garmon had 27 yards, but the offense suffered injuries to O-linemen Brandon Scherff and Andrew Donnal and went nowhere. The Hawkeyes finished with 20 rushing yards (0.9 yards a carry on 23 attempts), their worst performance since minus-9 in a 31-6 loss at Ohio State in 2005.
Bullock returned the next week at Northwestern and rushed for 107 yards. Garmon logged one carry the next three weeks (Northwestern, Indiana and DNP against Purdue). Bullock suffered a back bruise. Weisman returned. So, no, Garmon never had a clear path to the job. He carried 10 times against Michigan, but those came when it was out of hand in favor of Michigan.
At 6-0, 190, Garmon wasn’t built for a power-running game, which is as close as Iowa’s offense came to a label in ’12, at least until Weisman, Scherff and Donnal were injured.
The look we had at Garmon was extremely limited. Did he have skills to build a personnel group around? Should plays have been called for him? Hard to say with certainty. Now, we’ll never know. He said it didn’t “click” here and he’s gone, the 11th running back to leave Iowa with eligibility remaining since the 2008 season.
FWIW, Iowa doesn’t do a two-back system. It messed around with it in 2002, when Fred Russell was putting in the first of his back-to-back 1,200-plus yard and Jermelle Lewis looked like a super back. Iowa hasn’t shown a system with a defined role for the No. 1-B back in Kirk Ferentz’s 14 seasons. There’s no solid template for getting two backs with running back skills on the field at the same time.
Which brings us to fullback. Iowa doesn’t have one right now. There are two walk-ons, Adam Cox and Berkley Grimm, listed at fullback. Senior Brad Rogers has had offseason back surgery to repair an injury that kept him off the field much of 2012.
Iowa didn’t use a lot of fullback in 2012, not with Rogers out and Weisman at running back.
Kirk Ferentz has said that Weisman will get a scholarship in January and that he will stay at running back. Two ways to look at this: 1) Iowa finds a new fullback (a position that is usually “found” among walk-ons and converted linebackers); 2) Maybe this is the opening for a personnel group that includes two backs with running back skills?
Taking a stab at Iowa’s RB depth chart:
Junior Mark Weisman — Led Iowa with 815 yards and eight TDs, averaging 5.13 yards a carry.
Junior Damon Bullock — Rushed for 513 yards and three TDs. Missed six games due to injury.
Sophomore Jordan Canzeri — Missed 2012 while rehabbing torn ACL. Has weighed in at 193, up nearly 20 pounds since he arrived at Iowa.
Freshmen Barkley Hill and Michael Malloy — Hill missed ’12 with a torn ACL suffered in an August scrimmage. Malloy nearly had his redshirt pulled. He could be surprise here.
Iowa is also a finalist for LeShun Daniels, a big Ohio prep RB (5-11, 220) who committed to Boston College before it went through a coaching change.
This has nothing to do with running backs, but here’s a piece from QB recruit Nic Shimonek’s hometown newspaper, the Corsicana (Texas) Daily Sun. He’s thrown 96 TDs to just 28 interceptions in his career at Mildred High School.