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A Weisman-Bullock pairing is a ‘great idea’

[ 0 ] April 10, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock, together — in the same backfield.

It’s the sort of formation speculation that fuels Iowa’s spring football practices, but new running backs coach Chris White offers a practical explanation.

“You have to put the best players on the field,” White said. “I think we can do more from one personnel package and get into multiple formations … I think it’s a great idea.”

Weisman and Bullock combined for 1,328 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns last season, but injuries prevented them from playing side by side.

They’re listed as co-starters on the Hawkeyes’ most recent depth chart.

“It’s a great combo,” defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat said. “Weisman will run through anybody and Bullock will elude anybody.

“It’s a winning combination.”

A depleted running back corps contributed to Iowa’s 4-8 record in 2012.

Bullock, a 6-foot, 190-pound junior, was the Hawkeyes’ featured ball carrier before suffering a concussion in the third game against Northern Iowa.

He finished the season with 513 yards on the ground (averaging 3.8 per carry) and also caught 18 passes for 167 more.

“Damon’s a really talented player,” White said. “What he’s focusing on now is little things. Getting the ball high and tight, not loose on his body. Really being a physical, complete player.

“He made a block on a blitzing linebacker the other day. He earned the respect of the whole team, including the head coach (Kirk Ferentz).”

Weisman, a 6-foot, 225-pound junior, emerged when Bullock was sidelined.

He led the Hawkeyes with 815 rushing yards, averaging 5.1 per carry.

“We’re working on some things with Mark, in terms of his flexibility,” White said. “He made a couple jump cuts the other day in practice. I was like, ‘Wow. I didn’t see that last year on film.’ ”

White was hired as the Hawkeyes’ running backs coach in February, after spending four years overseeing special teams for the Minnesota Vikings.

“What I look for in a running back are four things: Base, bend, balance, burst,” White said. “The four Bs.”

White has 17 years of college experience, ranging from receivers to linebackers. His older brother, Brian, is the running backs coach for Florida.

“I may be biased, but I think he’s the best running back coach in the country,” Chris White said. “I lean on him with drills, and really, philosophy.”

The health history of Weisman and Bullock has led Iowa coaches to be cautious, without coddling.

“You need to be smart about how many times you tackle a ball carrier, and we are very conscious of that,” White said. “I firmly believe you have to learn how to fall with the ball in your hand. So there’s times where we need to tackle the guy to the ground.

“But there’s also times where the defense needs to be smart, too.”

When Iowa officials announced plans to hold a practice this Sunday in West Des Moines, White tweeted that it was a chance for fans to see the best 1-2 running back tandem in college football.

He made another bold proclamation at a Wednesday press conference.

“I really believe that we’re going to wear people out,” White said. “Just with the style of our offense, the tempo of our offense, and we’ve got two guys who can come in there and you won’t see any drop-off.

“Their production is going to be that high.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 19 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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