Is Iowa's Jordan Canzeri ready for a 100-yard encore?

Andrew Logue

IOWA CITY, Ia. – A little give and take contributes to keeping Iowa's running backs in check.

The Hawkeyes have gone seven football games without a 100-yard rusher, dating to last season – their longest such drought since 2007.

It's a statistical glitch that stems from having at least four capable ball carriers, but junior tailback Jordan Canzeri doesn't seem to mind.

"It's just good that we're all humble with each other," he said. "None of us are selfish."

Canzeri was the last Hawkeye to reach the century mark, running for 165 yards in a 38-14 win at Purdue on Nov. 9, 2013.

Yet when Iowa returns to West Lafayette, Ind., for an 11 a.m. game Saturday on the Big Ten Network, there's no guarantee Canzeri will even be the featured back.

"However it develops is what we're going to go with," Canzeri said. "If it's someone else getting the ball in there, getting the job done and they're having their breakout game, we're happy.

"Because that's all we want. We want the offense to move. We want the offense to be great and get the job done."

That might be a little aggravating to outsiders who wish the speedy Canzeri would get more opportunities.

For those inside the Iowa locker room, however, it's become a running joke.

Mark Weisman, the burly 6-foot, 240-pound battering ram, likes to tell Canzeri, "if it's an outside zone, I'll give it to you.''

Canzeri usually responds, "We'll, I'm not going in on third-and-1. That's all you.''

The coaches have never declared a two-back preference, but LeShun Daniels has zero rushing attempts the past two weeks and Damon Bullock ran just twice last weekend at Pittsburgh.

Weisman, meanwhile, netted 88 yards on 22 carries against the Panthers. He is Iowa's season leader in attempts (54) and rushing yards (184).

Canzeri has 89 yards on 23 carries.

"We're both ready," Canzeri said. "So if Mark gets the hot hand, and he's the one getting the ball the most, I'm fine with that.

"The rest of the running backs are as well."

Watching Weisman bludgeon defenders is fun, but Canzeri provides a burst, especially when healthy.

"He's had a lot of things that have slowed him down in practice, and I don't think we've seen him a hundred percent," coach Kirk Ferentz said. "Hopefully we're getting closer."

Canzeri joined the Hawkeyes in 2011 and made his starting debut as a true freshman at the Insight Bowl (running for 58 yards on 22 carries against Oklahoma).

He suffered an ACL tear in the spring of 2012 and spent much of 2013 working his way back into the lineup.

At Purdue, Canzeri was at his best.

He averaged 8.3 yards per carry and tilted the field in Iowa's favor.

"It didn't really do much for me personally," Canzeri recalled. "I was just glad to see the offense came together the way it did.

"We're just looking to do that again."

After a series of nagging injuries, is Canzeri ready for an encore?

"It's just kind of been a series of things," Ferentz said. "Hopefully we get him right here and get him going in the near future."

Iowa running back Jordan Canzeri (33) carries the ball against Pittsburgh.