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Coker on pace to make Hawkeye history

[ 3 ] November 20, 2011 |

Iowa running back Marcus Coker doesn’t jump out of bed on Sunday mornings.

“No, I ease out of it,” Coker said.

The sophomore is on pace to carry the ball as many times as any back in Hawkeye history. Against Purdue Coker had 139 yards on 30 carries helping lead Iowa to a 31-21 victory.

“I’m proud of him,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He came into this game, he was sore after last week’s game, and I’m sure he’s sore right now.

“We’ll see if we can get him through Friday, and we’ll go from there.”

Coker has absorbed a season’s worth of tackles, and this week he has one less day to heal up for the infamous blackshirts on the Nebraska defense.

Iowa (7-4, 4-3) travels to No. 22 Nebraska (8-3, 4-3) for an 11 a.m. kickoff Friday at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.

That’s one less day for Coker to get his body right after another 30-carry game.

“It’s tough. It’s a long season,” sophomore fullback Brad Rogers said. “Big Ten play is pretty tough. Every week you have bumps and bruises and you have to bounce back.”

Coker has seven 100-yard games this season. He’s has three games where he carried the ball more than 30 times.

His workload doesn’t seem to bother him.

“Whatever can help my team win, that’s what I’m going to do,” Coker said.

He used to be able to tell the difference between 20 and 30 carries on Saturday night.

“I did at first, now I really don’t,” Coker said. “Now it’s just another day at the office.”

Coker has 262 carries, which puts him fifth on the all-time list at Iowa. The names ahead of him on the list are familiar — Dennis Mosely (270 carries in 1979), Fred Russell (282 in 2003), Shonn Greene (307 in 2008) and Sedrick Shaw (316 in 1995).

He has also moved into sixth on the single-season rushing chart with 1,297 yards.

“He’s not a slasher, not a speed guy,” Ferentz said. “He’s working hard. He just compliments what we are trying to do.”

Coker said he doesn’t take aspirin or ibuprofen and laughed at the suggestion of some of the extreme ways NFL players recover like hyperbolic chambers.

“Ice baths and hot showers,” Coker said. “That gets my legs under me.”

Iowa hasn’t developed a reliable second option behind Coker. Freshman Mika’il McCall returned Saturday, but fumbled his second carry putting him in the doghouse.

“I always seem to ask him on Sunday if he’s sore and he almost never says he is,” Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg said. “I’m under the impression as it gets harder, and he gets hit more, he just gets stronger.

“That’s a great trait to have if you’re a running back. He’s a really tough guy. You never hear him complain. He’ll be fine. He’s a big boy.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

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