One thing I have learned as an Iowa Hawkeye fan is that no Iowa running back is safe. So many years Iowa has looked to be set at the position only to have injuries, suspensions, or other miscellaneous events prevent them from playing. That’s why I think that the player most likely to lose his starting job is Jordan Canzeri.
Since 2011, seven Iowa running backs have received a serious injury or left the program, eight if you include recruit Markel Smith not making it to campus this fall. That’s a little more than two running backs a year. That’s an absurd number. That means that if the average continues, you can just cross two running backs off of Iowa’s roster.
One of those names crossed off might be Canzeri’s. He already was out for the entire 2012 season after tearing his ACL in practice. He could aggravate that or he may suffer a new injury. If that happens, Canzeri might not start anymore.
You may be asking why I chose Jordan Canzeri to be the one who doesn’t start and not fellow starter Mark Weisman. There are many reasons why, but the biggest is because Weisman is a Ferentz running back.
Let me explain: Head coach Kirk Ferentz has a certain type of running back that he likes most. Ferentz likes them to be big, strong, able to pass block, and most importantly, not fumble. Ferentz is all about holding onto the football and not committing turnovers, which is why the first thing Ferentz drills in the running back’s head is how to properly hold onto the football. If they can’t do that, then they won’t see the field.
The reason why Canzeri saw limited action until the Wisconsin game wasn’t because he was still recovering from the ACL injury; it was because of his lack of ball security. It showed this season as Canzeri had two fumbles in his 74 carries compared to Weisman’s one in 227 carries.
Another reason why Canzeri would be more likely to lose his job over Weisman is their fit to Iowa’s offense. Iowa’s offense at its best is when they get at least a couple of yards on first and second down so in the ideal situation they will be faced with a third and short. Iowa’s worst nightmare is when they lose yardage on first and second down. They aren’t the type of offense that can get 8+ yards on one play consistently.
Weisman rarely loses yards behind the line of scrimmage. He usually musters at least a couple yards on each carry. He isn’t a home run threat at all but he is the safe and reliable option. Canzeri is the risk taker. He cuts across the line, he reverses, and he does anything he can to make the big play. But when those cuts and reverses don’t work, they usually are for big losses.
Also, Canzeri isn’t a reliable pass blocker. Ferentz normally has Damon Bullock or Weisman as the primary pass blockers as they are very good in that position. Ferentz doesn’t really trust Canzeri in that role yet so that limits his possible playing time.
Speaking of Bullock, Iowa has great depth at running back. Bullock has over 260 carries so he is an experienced 3rd stringer that can definitely step in at any moment and play. He is reliable so he may push Canzeri out of the starting spot at any moment’s notice. They then have super sophomore LeShun Daniels, a monster of a tailback who looked great his true freshman season. He is more of a Weisman build, a big back who the coaches have been praising a lot this offseason. Iowa also has two players coming off their redshirt season hoping to make a splash.
With all that said; the chances of Canzeri losing his starting spot is pretty slim. He showed off great skill and gives the Iowa offense another layer. He theoretically makes a great running back tandem with Weisman. He is one of Iowa’s truly dynamic players on offense. But, if someone put a gun to my head and asked what returning starter would lose their spot this season, my money would be Canzeri.