Dienhart: Stability in backfield key to Iowa's season

Iowa fans are aching for a good season. Who can blame them? The Hawkeyes have seen their win total drop each of the last four seasons, from 11 wins to eight, to seven to four.

Having a healthy running back situation certainly will help Iowa pump life into a sluggish offense as the program makes a quest for a bowl after missing the postseason last year.

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The running back spot has been hexed, seemingly, as injuries (Damon Bullock, Jordan Canzeri), transfers (Marcus Coker, Mikail McCall) and suspensions (De’Andre Johnson) have proven to be ruinous to the position in recent years.

“I never feel too good about that position, Kirk Ferentz said. “But we’re certainly further ahead than we were last year. Last year at this time, quite frankly, we didn’t know if we had a Big Ten running back. And Damon Bullock, I think when he was playing, did an excellent job. I think he’s grown a lot in 12 months’ time, and we’re really excited to see how he performs this year.”

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Mark Weisman came out of nowhere last season to be one of the biggest surprises in the Big Ten with 815 yards rushing. And Bullock looked good, too.

“Mark Weisman at this time last year, we thought he would be a pretty good fullback,” said Ferentz. “And I’ll backtrack. Going into spring a year ago, we weren’t sure if he’d block or not. He proved that he could do that. And we kind of stumbled into him as a running back during the course of last year.

“So with those two guys alone we feel a lot better about where we’re at. Both those players have improved since last fall.

“Jordan Canzeri rejoins our team. He’s healthy, had a good spring. Got a couple of younger players on our roster. Excited to see how they perform in August and some incoming players, too. We’re excited.”

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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