The dreaded AIRBHG must have been on vacation this spring, because the Iowa Hawkeyes managed to get through the spring feeling strong about the depth at running back.
Knowing the past history of the running backs at Iowa, the Hawkeyes went a little lighter than usual on the running plays during the spring game on Saturday. That helped make sure starting running backs Mark Weisman and Jordan Canzeri stayed healthy. Now, heading into the summer, Iowa can focus on putting together a physical running game behind a solid offensive line and an arsenal of healthy running backs, including bruiser Damon Bullock.
“That’s our goal,” senior offensive lineman Brandon Scherff said after the spring game. “We want to be the most physical unit on the field and want to be able to run the ball against people’s will, and that is what we are going to work for in the summer. We are going to get stronger and faster and try to learn the offense more so we can play faster.”
Iowa’s history with injuries at running back is rather infamous, but last season Iowa’s top three running backs appeared in 35 combined games. The Iowa rushing offense was ranked sixth in the Big Ten in 2013, much improved from the worst rushing offense in the conference in 2012 and 2011. Weisman led the Hawkeyes in rushing with 974 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013. Canzieri was second on the team with 481 yards and two touchdowns. Now the trick will be to get a second straight season of stability out of the position.
The Cincinnati Bengals were rebuffed in its pursuit of an SEC defensive coordinator this past week. As it turns out, they pursued another coordinator at the collegiate level — and were shot down yet again.
According to a report from the NFL Network, the Bengals sought an interview with new Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley for their still-vacant coordinator job. “However,” the report stated, “he’s not going to renege on his commitment to OSU after taking the job last month.”
On Jan. 7, the Buckeyes confirmed Hafley and Michigan assistant Greg Mattison had been named as co-coordinators on Ryan Day‘s first OSU coaching staff.
The 39-year-old Hafley — he’ll turn 40 in April — has spent the past three seasons as the defensive backs coach for the San Francisco 49ers. All told, Hafley worked at the NFL for the last seven seasons.
Hafley’s last job at the collegiate level coming at Rutgers in 2011 as part of the coaching staff of Greg Schiano, who was let go by Day as OSU’s defensive coordinator early last month.
A familiar face will reportedly be next up on the offensive side of Lovie Smith‘s Illinois coaching staff.
Bob Asmussen of the Champaign News-Gazette was one of a handful reporting Friday that Smith is set to name Mike Bellamy as his new running backs coach. While there’s nothing yet official from the football program, a school official stated that a staff announcement could come as early as this weekend.
The hiring of Bellamy, who would replace an assistant lost to a MAC school, would mark a Champaign homecoming on a couple of fronts.
In the late eighties, Bellamy was a first-team All-Big Ten wide receiver and second-team All-American kick returner for the Illini. Then, from 2012-15, Bellamy served as wide receivers coach at his alma mater.
The past two seasons, Bellamy was the wide receivers coach at Toledo. In between his stints at Toledo and Illinois, he was a quality control coach at Mississippi State in 2016.
One SEC West school has turned to another from the same division to fill a hole on its coaching staff. Reportedly.
According to 247Sports.com, and citing two sources familiar with the decision, Chad Morris is expected to hire Kenny Ingram as Arkansas’ defensive line coach. Morris’ move to add a new assistant to his Razorbacks staff was triggered by John Scott‘s move to South Carolina earlier this offseason.
Ingram, who played his college football at Arkansas State, has spent the past two seasons as the Director of Player Relations at Auburn.
Prior to his time on The Plains, Ingram worked as the defensive line coach at Cincinnati from 2015-16. From 2006-09, he was on the coaching staff at Memphis, including a turn as defensive coordinator his last season with the Tigers.
In 2012, Ingram worked with the defensive line at his alma mater ASU.
Garrett Riley is a bright, accomplished coach in his own right, but until he wins back-to-back Heismans with two different quarterbacks (or, at least becomes a head coach in his own right), he’s going to be known as his big brother’s little brother. With that in mind: Lincoln Riley’s brother has been announced as Appalachian State’s new running backs coach.
“I’m excited to be part such a traditionally successful program,” Riley said in a statement. “I’m humble and grateful to have the opportunity to be around this organization and work with Coach Drink and the rest of the staff that I’ve known about for several years. Look forward to continuing the great success that Appalachian State’s had, and I can’t wait to start working with the players.”
Garrett followed Lincoln to Texas Tech and East Carolina before branching out on his own at Kansas, where he joined the staff as an offensive analyst in 2016 and was promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2017 and tight ends/fullbacks coach in 2018.
Appalachian State has not announced an offensive coordinator under new head coach Eli Drinkwitz — and certainly the head coach, a former offensive coordinator himself, will have tremendous sway on his favored side of the ball initially — it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Riley become the Mountaineers’ offensive coordinator in 2020 or 2021. “We’re looking to be cutting edge on offense, and we expect him to continue to push that,” Drinkwitz said Friday. “His experience coaching in North Carolina will also benefit our program.”