IOWA FOOTBALL

Parker gets closer look at Hawkeyes' defensive growth, needs

2013-10-08T16:45:00Z 2013-10-08T20:01:49Z Parker gets closer look at Hawkeyes' defensive growth, needsSteve Batterson sbatterson@qctimes.com The Quad-City Times

IOWA CITY — A return to the sidelines has provided Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker with the ability to take more of a hands-on approach with his players.

“The faster you can give them feedback, the better off you are,’’ Parker said Tuesday.

Parker worked out of the press box a year ago, his first as a coordinator at Iowa, but returned to the field this season to work with a defensive unit which has shown significant growth.

“Now, I’ve got direct contact with the players and I’ve got a better feel for the game when I’m downstairs on the field,’’ Parker said. “I like being around the guys and I want to make sure I get my point across when I need to get my point across.’’

Parker has had both positive and negative points to press as Iowa has worked its way to a 4-2 record at the midpoint of the season.

The Hawkeyes have held their first six opponents below their season rushing average and currently rank eighth nationally in allowing an average of 88.5 yards per game on the ground.

Iowa joins Michigan as the only teams at the FBS level that have not allowed a rushing touchdown this season. The unit ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and pass defense.

The Hawkeyes have blitzed 15 percent of the time this season, a fairly average number throughout the 15 seasons coach Kirk Ferentz has led the program. Parker considers a success rate of right at 73 percent on those blitzes to be solid from a group of personnel he believes is better equipped for success.

 “I feel good about the group, the chemistry, and I think we have more depth this year. I think we have more guys who are capable of going on the field and performing at a high level,’’ Parker said.

He also sees room for growth.

The Hawkeyes have intercepted nine passes this season, equaling the seventh-best total in the country, but Iowa has been burnt by the long ball on occasion.

The 10 touchdown passes the Hawkeyes have allowed this season have covered an average of 33.7 yards.  Only one — a 17-yard fourth quarter score by Iowa State — has been shorter than 20 yards.

“It’s a challenge to go back and play corner on the receivers when they’re going to have some time when they six-man, seven-man protect,’’ Parker said. “The receivers are going to have time to run a couple of double moves on you, so you have to be good on your fundamentals.’’

Parker has watched Hawkeye cornerbacks thrive, and then struggle, sometimes within minutes of each other.

“You have to be perfect with it. When you look at (Jordan) Lomax, Desmond (King) and B.J. (Lowery), they’ve made a lot of good plays and they’ve given up some, too,’’ Parker said. “That all goes with the position. You’re on an island and everybody sees it. Up front, guys make mistakes and nobody knows. On the back end, everybody knows.’’

Parker believes consistency will come with experience.

Iowa has allowed three runs of 20 yards or more — just one by the first-team defense — and has given up 16 pass plays of 20-plus yards through six games. Those are numbers Parker can live with.

“If you do that math with the passes, 32 over the course of the season would be well below where we were at a year ago,’’ Parker said. “We need to continue to work. We need to continue to get better, but I like where we are at right now.’’

Copyright 2015 The Quad-City Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Football schedule

2014 Hawkeyes (7-6)

Date Opponent Time/result
8/30/2014 Northern Iowa W 31-23
9/6/2014 Ball State W 17-13
9/13/2014 Iowa State L 20-17
9/20/2014 at Pittsburgh W 24-20
9/27/2014 at Purdue W 24-10
10/11/2014 Indiana W 45-29
10/18/2014 at Maryland L 38-31
11/1/2014 Northwestern W 48-7
11/8/2014 at Minnesota L 51-14
11/15/2014 at Illinois W 30-14
11/22/2014 Wisconsin  L 26-24
11/28/2014 Nebraska L 37-34
1/2/2015 Tennessee L 45-28

Future schedules

2015 Hawkeyes (0-0)

Date Opponent Time/result
9/5/2015 Illinois State TBA
9/12/2015 at Iowa State TBA
9/19/2015 Pittsburgh TBA
9/26/2015 North Texas TBA
10/3/2015 at Wisconsin TBA
10/10/2015 Illinois TBA
10/17/2015 at Northwestern TBA
10/31/2015 Maryland TBA
11/7/2015 at Indiana TBA
11/14/2015 Minnesota TBA
11/21/2015 Purdue TBA
11/27/2015 at Nebraska TBA

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Hawkeyes bowl history

1957 Rose   Oregon State W 35-19
1959 Rose   California W 38-12
1982 Rose   Washington L 28-0
1982 Peach   Tennessee W 28-22
1983 Gator   Florida L 14-6
1984 Freedom   Texas W 55-17
1986 Rose   UCLA L 45-28
1986 Holiday   SDSU W 39-38
1987 Holiday   Wyoming W 20-19
1988 Peach   NC State L 28-23
1991 Rose   Washington L 46-34
1991 Holiday   BYU T 13-13
1993 Alamo   California L 37-3
1995 Sun   Washington W 38-18
1996 Alamo   Texas Tech W 27-0
1997 Sun   Arizona State L 17-7
2001 Alamo   Texas Tech W 19-16
2003 Orange   USC L 38-17
2004 Outback   Florida W 37-17
2005 Capital One LSU W 30-25
2006 Outback   Florida L 31-24
2006 Alamo   Texas L 26-24
2009 Outback   South Carolina W 31-10
2010 Orange   Georgia Tech W 24-14
2010 Insight   Missouri W 27-24
2011 Insight   Oklahoma L 31-14
2014 Outback   LSU L 21-14
2015 TaxSlayer   Tennessee L 45-28