Saturday definitely could have gone much better for Iowa’s starting running back Marcus Coker. It’s no doubt that the weather played a factor in the poor performance. On Iowa’s first possession of the game, Coker fumbled at the Tennessee Tech 23 yard line. It was Coker’s first carry of the game. The next drive, offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe made it clear he wanted Coker to rebound. He got 3 straight carries as the drive started on the Iowa 21 yard line. On his 3rd carry, Coker fumbled for the 2nd time but was lucky that Riley Reiff recovered the ball. After the fumble, freshman Mika’il McCall would rattle off 9 straight carries before breaking his ankle.
If you could take away anything positive from Saturday’s game it was his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Iowa opened up the game with a short pass to Coker that went for 13 yards. 3 years ago Shonn Greene was essentially ineffective when it came to catching the ball out of the backfield. If Iowa can use Coker by setting up screens or out routes out of the backfield, production will be increased.
With the experience on the offensive line, it’s been no secret that people expect big things from Coker this season. Taking 11 carries for 41 yards would have been acceptable versus Nebraska or Wisconsin, but not FCS school Tennessee Tech. It’s important for the Iowa offense, and more importantly Coker, that he see a big increase in production next week. With the absence of McCall for the rest of the season, he will be heavily relied upon to carry the rock close to 20 times a game. Establishing the run while breaking in a new quarterback is essential to offensive success. Defenders are going to load the box trying to stop Coker, and that is when he needs to be at his best.