Coker, McNutt and Prater big reasons why Iowa football team is tough at home
Why is the Iowa football team dangerous at home? Beyond the 39.2 points per game the Hawkeyes average at Kinnick Stadium, there are some key players.
Here are three to know as the Michigan football team (7-1, 3-1 Big Ten) heads to Iowa for a noon game Saturday (ESPN).
Position: Running back
Size: 6-foot-1, 230 pounds
Hometown: Beltsville, Md.
Breakdown: Coker is a hard-hitting tailback that is most comfortable running between the tackles. He's a downhill runner who accelerates slowly, but is difficult to bring down once he has momentum.
Notable stats: He’s coming off a 252-yard rushing performance against Minnesota, which included runs of 50 and 41 yards. ... He’s 31 yards shy of 1,000 for the season and has scored 10 touchdowns. ... He was named the national running back of the week by the College Football Performance Awards. ... He averages 147.2 yards per Big Ten game, best in the conference.
Quote: "Doesn't matter, we lost. ... I came here to win football games, and that's all I care about it." — Coker, on his 252 rushing yards in a loss to Minnesota, according to the AP.
Position: Wide receiver
Size: 6-foot-4, 215 pounds
Hometown: St. Louis, Mo.
Breakdown: McNutt is a large, rangy receiver who uses his size skillfully, particularly against smaller defensive backs. He's effective on fade routes, where the shorter Michigan cornerbacks could struggle. He has terrific speed for a guy his size, and is a top NFL prospect.
Notable stats: Set the Iowa career touchdown receptions record as part of a three-touchdown performance against Indiana. He scored on touchdown receptions of 80, 28 and 24 yards, bringing his career total to 24, and finished with six receptions for a career-high 184 yards. ... He has 858 receiving yards, leaving him 4 yards from setting a career high for a season. ... He has topped 100 yards in five of eight games and is 212 yards from becoming the school's all-time leading receiver. ... He is averaging 17.9 yards per catch.
Quote: "Sack the quarterback." — Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, on the best way to defend McNutt on a fade.
Position: Defensive back
Size: 5-foot-11, 185 pounds
Hometown: Omaha, Neb.
Breakdown: Prater could have declared for the NFL in the off-season, but elected to join McNutt in returning to school. He doesn't play in a lot of man coverages, which has long been a part of the Iowa defense. Instead, they play zone quarters schemes and cover-2 in which cornerbacks are instructed to keep the ball in front of them.
Notable stats: He returned his only pick of the year 89 yards for a touchdown in the opener against Tennessee Tech. He also has forced a team-high three fumbles, which is second in the Big Ten. ... Despite the return of Prater and veteran Micah Hyde, Iowa is giving up a Big Ten-worst 238.6 passing yards per game. ... Prater was second in the Big Ten last year with four interceptions interceptions and seventh in pass breakups. ... He has seven career picks, one from moving into a tie for 18th on the school's all-time list. ... He was a first-team all-Big Ten selection last year by both the coaches and media.
Quote: "I don’t pay attention to the underdog, over dog, whatever it is. The key word is move forward. We’ve got to move forward and take on whoever we’ve got next week.” — Prater, looking ahead to Michigan after the Minnesota loss, according to hawkcentral.com.
Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.