IOWA CITY — The tape doesn’t lie.
Never has. Never will.
“It can be pretty humbling sometimes, watching every play from a season, but it’s how you improve and develop your skills," Iowa running back Mark Weisman said Wednesday.
The Hawkeye football team’s top returning rusher from last season sees room for growth as he prepares for his senior season by studying what transpired on the field in 2013.
Weisman calls the hours he has spent reviewing his performance last season time well spent.
“When things are going well, I’m seeing both hands on the ball, running full speed through a hole with pads forward. Usually when things aren’t going so well, the pads are high and I don’t have the ball where it needs to be," Weisman said. “It’s all there and I watch it all, the good and the bad."
Weisman rushed for 975 yards on 227 carries last season, an average of 4.3 yards that dipped from the 5.1 he averaged per carry as a sophomore.
He watched his role change as well as Jordan Canzeri emerged late in the season to complement the hard-nosed skills of Weisman and the yards that Damon Bullock provided.
In part, the change came as Iowa coaches worked to keep Weisman healthy and productive.
“Last season, we kind of had to pull back to get him back to where he was going at an effective rate," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “If you don’t pull him back, he won’t. He’s one of those guys."
Now, Weisman finds himself among a group of running backs that could number as many as nine when Iowa opens fall camp.
“It’s a crowded backfield, but I feel like a crowded backfield is a good backfield. We know that several guys are going to play, I don’t see that changing, so you adapt to that," Weisman said.
He believes the competition is helping the entire group.
“It pushes every day," he said. “You want to get better, you’ve got to work at it and with the guys we have around here, we have to work. If you’re sitting pretty, knowing that you’re the only guy, that’s not a good thing."
Ferentz, who has dealt with his share of a lack of healthy depth at the position in the past, welcomes as many eager running backs as the Hawkeyes can suit up.
“Hopefully, it’s a good problem to have and it ends up being a crowded position, we’ll see," Ferentz said. “I think it has the potential to be that way. They all have some different things that they offer and I’m sure we’ll fool around a bit with that this spring and see where we are at the end."
Weisman believes the depth at running back is helping the Hawkeyes as a team stay hungry after turning a 4-8 record in 2012 into an 8-5 mark this season.
“We still feel like we have some things to prove," Weisman said. “Last year was a good step in the right direction, but there is more out there and with all the competition we have here, it only pushes us to take that next step."