Iowa Round-Up

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz and his players met with the media on Tuesday. He talked about his RBs, the DL, true freshmen playing and more.

Iowa CITY, Iowa - You could almost see Kirk Ferentz cringe as he said it. He realized mistakes were coming from true freshmen running backs Greg Garmon and Michael Malloy. It's out of his hands.

"Both those guys may go the wrong way a time or two," Ferentz said at his Tuesday press conference. "We kind of anticipate that.  They're not well-versed yet."

Ferentz said Garmon and Malloy would receive playing time when the Hawkeyes open the 2012 season Saturday against Northern Illinois at Soldier Field in Chicago. They'll back-up true sophomore Damon Bullock, who began last season as a receiver before injuries forced his return to the backfield.

Bullock carried the ball 10 times for 20 yards in '11. His lone receptions went for 11 yards.

"He hasn't played an awful lot," Ferentz said of Bullock.  "(He) got a lot of work in the spring and really improved; certainly did a good job this camp.  So we feel good about that."

Iowa has developed a reputation as a program that enjoys running the football. The Hawkeyes have relied on featured backs like Fred Russell, Albert Young, Shonn Greene, Adam Robinson and Marcus Coker.

The setup could change this fall. The coach seems prepared to divvy up the workload.

"I have a plan to play all three guys (Saturday) and see how they do," Ferentz said. "Certainly right now I expect all three guys to be in the game.  I don't know to what extent.  We'll see how that plays out.  We'll look and see what the week of practice looks like and go from there."

EARLY ENTRIES: After playing a combined 18 true freshmen the last two seasons, it sounds like Iowa might receive more development time with this year's newbies.

As of Tuesday, Ferentz said he only planned to use the four first-year players on the most recent depth chart. They would be Garmon, Malloy, punter Connor Kornbrath and defensive back Kevin Buford.

"The four guys we list will play," the coach said. "A couple guys we're treading water with.  But right now you can count on seeing those four guys unless something happens."

Buford might be the biggest surprise in that group when you consider the situation at running back.

"He's just done a good job," Ferentz said. "BJ (Lowery) was out for a couple days, it moved Greg (Castillo) up and gave (Buford) more of a chance to play a little bit.  We liked him in recruiting; like him even more now." 

Kornbrath probably is least surprising of the group.

"Right now we just feel like he gives us our best chance," Ferentz said. "That's kind of the decision we made."

POINT OF CONTENTION: At the last public practice a few weeks ago, the strong safety competition still appeared to be an even race between senior Tom Donatell and sophomore Nico Law. According to the head coach, a winner still hasn't been declared.

"Yeah, we'll see how it goes," Ferentz said. "We'll see how it goes. We're comfortable with either guy. I think whoever ends up getting the start, both will probably play some and they'll both play on special teams."

SLATE CHANGE IN PLANS?: Nope.

Ferentz was asked if he'd consider beefing up the schedule with Alabama (v. Michigan) or Boise State (v. MSU), who play Big Ten teams this week.

"I'm comfortable with what we're doing," Ferentz said. "I think we're on the right track. Scheduling has always been the challenge, seems like it has. I think it's going to continue to be one. I'm comfortable with what we're doing."

Next question…

FRONT FOUR: Much of the preseason unrest in Hawkeye Nation has centered around the running backs and the defensive line. We led with the ball carriers.

"I think we're making progress," Ferentz said. "That's our most inexperienced group by far.  I thought they progressed through the course of spring and now if you look at it, we get Dom back and Carl Davis.  That's going to help us."

The coach said he could envision playing "six, seven, eight guys during the course of a game."

Ferentz said that senior Steve Bigach has emerged as the leader of the D-line. He said underclassman Louis Trinca-Pasat has also really improved.

"He's a younger guy, (but) doesn't miss much; a tough-minded guy," the coach said.

QUICK HITTERS: True freshman Ryan Ward, an offensive lineman from Chicago, was added to the team's leadership group…The players who have undergone surgery late this summer were the only ones mentioned on Ferentz's medical report…During his Big Ten teleconference on Tuesday morning, Ferentz said that running back Jordan Canzeri was not close to a return- "We're looking at weeks or months before we talk about him entering contact or anything live" tweeted ESPN…James Vandenberg, James Ferentz, Micah Hyde and James Morris are this week's captains.


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