Hawks mull running game


Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz discussed on how running backs Jordan Canzeri and LeShun Daniels Jr. will fit into the Hawkeye backfield this season.
By Ryan Rodriguez

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CHICAGO — With the departure of running back Mark Weisman to the NFL this past off-season, the question of who would take over the bulk of his snaps has been a topic of debate for the past few months.

More or less of an incumbent in the backfield, senior Jordan Canzeri was seen as the answer to the question for Iowa’s ground game in 2015. After all, the New York native was second on the team with 494 yards on 102 attempts last season, and he has the speed and agility to be a legitimate outside threat.

However, when Iowa released its updated depth chart July 30, junior LeShun Daniels Jr. was listed first, with Canzeri second.

Depth chart

Depth chart 2

While the change came as a surprise to some, Ferentz stressed that nothing is set in stone this early on in the season.

“I think what it really reflects more than anything is that we’re really pleased with both guys,” Ferentz said. “They both have shown flashes since their time at Iowa, but I think injuries have impeded some of the progress that we had hoped for.”

Ferentz and his staff have been happy with the way both backs have looked in spring workouts, with both Daniels and Canzeri showing a desire to compete for the No. 1 spot.

“They’ve both done a really nice job for us this spring,” Ferentz said. “You knock on wood because you want everyone to stay healthy, but I really feel good about it. They’re working extremely hard, and I think they’ve both done a good job.”

An added bonus for Ferentz and the Hawks has been the emergence of sophomore Derrick Mitchell, who saw limited action on both side of the ball in 2014 but now wants to step into a larger role for the offense.

“The big bonus we’ve had in the spring was the emergence of Derrick Mitchell,” Ferentz said. “He really transitioned well and showed a lot in 15 days, so it’s exciting to think that we’ve got 25 more days for him to continue that.”

Daniels was not the only change on Iowa’s two-deeps, however.

Left-guard Sean Welsh is back into the second slot behind senior Eric Simmons. Welsh started the majority of games last season but missed spring practice for personal reasons.

“Sean jumped back in with everybody in June; he’s really done a great job,” Ferentz said. “We’re really happy to have him back on the football team, and he’s going to be a real key contributor this fall.”

Additionally, redshirt freshman Aaron Mends is in sole possession of the No. 2 spot behind Bo Bower at weakside linebacker. Ferentz noted that the role of punter will remain a competition between seniors Dillon Kidd and Marshall Koehn.

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