Aug. 22, 2007
IOWA CITY — Norm Parker knows defense. He is also fairly certain that the University of Iowa will be very competitive on the defensive side of the ball this season.
Parker begins his ninth season at the UI as defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach. After successful stops at seven colleges, Parker has molded his Hawkeye charges into one of the most physical, hard-hitting units in the nation. Eight UI starters return as well as seven other letterwinners from a team that finished sixth in the Big Ten last season in total defense (343.8 yards allowed per game). Included on the preseason two-deep chart this summer are eight seniors, including returning starters Kenny Iwebemwa (end), Bryan Mattison (end), Mike Humpal (WLB), Adam Shada (LC), Charles Godfrey (RC) and Mike Klinkenborg, who was named co-Most Valuable Player for the 2006 Hawkeyes.
“I’ll be disappointed if we’re not very competitive defensively,” said Parker, following the first of two practices on Aug. 22. “We would like to be ranked as the No. 1 defense in the Big Ten.”
Not only is it physical and athletic, but the UI defense also features some of the top student-athletes at the university. Klinkenborg and Shada were both named academic all-Big Ten last season. When sophomore A.J. Edds joins a conversation with fellow linebackers Klinkenborg and Humpal, you’re talking about some pretty lofty grade-point averages.
“All three are extremely smart kids,” Parker said. “The two inside backers (Humpal and Klinkenborg) are close to four-point students and I think Edds is way up there, too. They’re guys that you can do different things with. They’re extremely smart and they’re extremely dedicated. They’re what you’re looking for.”
There are also two returning starters on the interior defensive line in junior tackles Matt Kroul and Mitch King. Hawkeye fans have watched that group for years. But Parker also has a batch of youngsters who have been impressive in the preseason.
“I like a (freshman) defensive lineman named Karl Klug,” Parker said. “I think he’s done some good things. In the secondary (freshman Jordan) Bernstine has done some good things and so has (freshman Diauntae) Morrow. I’m going to miss somebody along the way, but there are some kids doing a lot of good things.”
With 20 practices down and nine to go before the season-opener on Sept. 1 against Northern Illinois, Parker said he is pleased with the progress of the defense.
“I think we can do some more things, but the defense seems to be more mature and we’re very pleased at this time,” Parker said.
So what would be an ideal conclusion to the 2007 season for the veteran coach?
“Obviously if you win 12 games it would be a successful season,” Parker said. “After awhile it doesn’t matter what the score is. It’s if you win or lose.”
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