IOWA CITY | Mark Weisman doesn’t mind being the workhorse of the Iowa offense, even if it means a few aches and pains on Sunday morning.
“That’s what ice tubs are for,’’ said the junior, who ranks second in the Big Ten with his rushing average of 141.7 yards per game.
If Weisman’s workload continues at its current pace – he has 85 carries through three games – he would have the ball in his hands 340 times by the end of the regular season.
Only two backs in Hawkeye history have topped 300 carries in a single season. Sedrick Shaw rushed 316 times in 1995 and Shonn Greene ran the ball on 307 snaps in 2008.
Weisman’s carries to this point have come within “the flow of the game,’’ something that will continue as Iowa works toward Saturday’s 11 a.m. game against Western Michigan, but Coach Kirk Ferentz would not mind seeing the ball find its way into the hands of other backs more frequently.
“I think it would be beneficial for us,’’ Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly news conference.
Despite Weisman’s success, Iowa ranks sixth in the Big Ten in rushing offense with its average of 239.3 yards per game.
Damon Bullock carried 13 times for 50 yards in the Hawkeyes’ 27-21 victory at Iowa State in what Ferentz labeled his most productive performance during Iowa’s 2-1 start.
The Iowa coach would like to get Jordan Canzeri, who sat out a year ago as he rehabilitated following an ACL tear, and true freshman LeShun Daniels more carries in the rushing attack, as well.
“Jordan had a really good spring and a good camp. I think it will help us to get him more involved at times,’’ Ferentz said. “The question is, where do you define those times and all that type of thing? We’ll probably have that discussion every week, but I think we have a group of guys who have earned our trust.’’
Weisman’s physical style of rushing is among the reasons Ferentz believes Iowa needs to develop available depth at the position.
Ankle injuries limited his availability and productivity late last season, something Weisman understands.
“That’s part of football,’’ Weisman said. “All I can do is go play and play the way I know how and if something happens, it happens, but I can’t worry about that.’’
Ferentz isn’t worried, either, saying he doesn’t wince as he watches tape of Weisman fighting for an extra yard or two after he gets hit.
“That’s just his style,’’ Ferentz said. “That’s the kind of back he is, not the same as Shonn Greene, but similar. They’re both physical players so he’s going to get hit, and I think he knows that. Fortunately for us, he really takes pretty good care of himself and that helps at least.’’
He welcomes watching Bullock asserting himself more frequently, both on the practice field and in recent games.
“I thought he practiced well last week and picked it up a step. We view Damon as a starter, as well, and he’s a good football player, somebody we need to play well,’’ Ferentz said. “We’ve got a lot of football left, so we’ll need all four of those guys.’’
- Ferentz doesn’t recall being involved with a team that had items stolen from a locker room during a game before as occurred Saturday at Iowa State when nine players and coaches had cell phones or cash taken.
“It’s one of those unfortunate things that happen occasionally,’’ Ferentz said.
- Ferentz believes there is a lesson to be learned in what Nebraska coach Bo Pelini is dealing with this week after a profanity-filled conversation he had about Cornhusker fans that he thought was private went public this week.
“We tell our players that they need to assume that they’re being recorded or taped or both pretty much any time they’re anywhere other than in a closet maybe,’’ Ferentz said, adding that he saves his vents for his wife.
- Defensive backs Jordan Lomax and Maurice Fleming have been cleared to return to full practice this week. After starting in the opener Lomax has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, while Fleming has not seen the field this season after being injured in preseason camp.
- Because of a shoulder injury suffered by starter Brandon Allen, former Hawkeye A.J. Derby may start at quarterback for Arkansas in its next game at Rutgers and Ferentz wishes him the best.
“He comes from a great family. It didn’t work out here and we’re all sorry about that, but I hope he does well,’’ Ferentz said. “If he gets in there, I hope it goes well for him.’’
- Around 5,000 tickets remain for Saturday’s game against Western Michigan.