Insight Bowl notebook: Iowa coach not saying who will start at running back

The Hawkeyes have four backs who will likely see action Friday night vs. Oklahoma.
BY JENNI CARLSON, TRAVIS HANEY AND BERRY TRAMEL, Staff Writers Published: December 29, 2011

Running out of time in Thursday's final pre-Insight Bowl news conference, a longtime Iowa media member gave it one last shot. The reporter wanted to know if Kirk Ferentz would name a starting running back, in place of the suspended Marcus Coker.

“The whole world is waiting on that one,” Ferentz said, grinning. So, nope.

He added that he expects four backs, including fullback Brad Rogers, to play in a committee. Jordan Canzeri, Damon Bullock and Jason White were the other backs he mentioned.

White, a senior who has three carries for 12 yards this season, was the running back representative at Wednesday's media day.

Coker rushed for 1,384 of Iowa's 1,714 yards this season.

“They will do a good job,” Ferentz said. “As long as we get the young guys out of the locker room, they may be nervous, they'll be fine.”

Without Coker, it's not as if OU coach Bob Stoops expects Iowa to turn into, say, Texas Tech or another spread-and-throw team. Pass-happy offenses are the ones that have given OU's defense fits. It has played well, for the most part, against run-first teams.

Oklahoma State, though, did gash the Sooners for 278 rushing yards.

“I don't believe they are going to change offenses,” Stoops said. “So I think what you still prepare for are the formations and the plays that they are used to running.

“What I see is an excellent offensive line and tight ends and a quarterback that play really well. I'm sure they will find guys that if they have space, they will be able to jump in and make something happen.”

NORVELL O-FOR-IOWA

Receivers coach Jay Norvell, one of three Iowa grads on the OU staff, is 0-7 against his alma mater. Norvell was 0-3 with Iowa State (1995-97) against the Hawkeyes and 0-4 with Wisconsin (1989-94).

But that doesn't worry Stoops. “I like those odds,” Stoops said.

He recalled the 1996 national title game, when his Florida Gators played Florida State. Bobby Bowden's Seminoles had won 11 straight bowl games.

Stoops' response? Great.

“He's bound to” win, Stoops said of Norvell. “The odds get you at some point.”

WINCHESTER, POWELL COULD BE TARGETS

Without Ryan Broyles and Jaz Reynolds, there's a chance some seldom-used OU receivers could play in the Insight Bowl.

One is senior snapper James Winchester. Stoops said the chances of him making a catch are “probably pretty good. James has done an excellent job, really, in the last couple of weeks. We'll see how it goes. I think (the chances are) pretty good.”

And then there's Joe Powell, who returned this week to receiver after a stint at defensive back.

“Joe is ready,” Stoops said. “He's really gathered things back up quickly and has done a nice job through the last week and a half.”

JEFFERSON ENJOYS NBA EXPERIENCE

OU safety Tony Jefferson did one thing once he knew the Sooners would be returning to Phoenix: He checked the Suns' schedule.

The big NBA fan saw the team play Monday night against New Orleans, and he wanted to go again later in the week for another game.

How into the experience was Jefferson? He bought a Steve Nash jersey. And Jefferson got his face painted, with a giant sun on the side of his head.

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