Dec. 18, 2008
- Greene and the Iowa Hawkeyes
- Game Day Central
- Iowa and the Big Ten Network
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
- Iowa Football wallpaper
IOWA CITY, Iowa — What’s a key to a University of Iowa defense that ranked 10th in the nation in rushing defense and 12th in total defense?
“I like it when he’s playing,” UI defensive coordinator Norm Parker said. “The best way to play defense is to sit on the bench and say, `that a boy, Shonn (clap hands)…first down.’ And you just keep sitting there and watch him run. He probably helped our defense as much as anybody. He’s probably the most valuable defensive player because he kept us off the field.”
What’s a key to a Hawkeye offense that was 110th in the nation in 2007 averaging 18.5 points per game turning into one that is currently 35th in the nation averaging 30.3 points per game?
“Anybody remember the old Rolaids commercial, `how do you spell relief?'” UI offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe said. “I spell it D-E-F-E-N-S-E. When you play great defense, you can do some things. My favorite play of the year is Amari Spievey scoring a touchdown on an interception (at Minnesota) because that’s one less score we have to worry about, right?”
Parker and O’Keefe fielded questions at a pre-Outback Bowl media conference Thursday in the Hayden Fry Football Complex. It was a relaxed, entertaining 45 minutes, as the Hawkeyes continue preparations to take on South Carolina in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day in Tampa.
Parker is readying his defense for some offensive tomfoolery that has made Gamecock head coach Steve Spurrier somewhat of an innovative legend.
“Spurrier is a very confident guy, so he’s not afraid to line up in any kind of crazy formation,” Parker said. “I think when he goes golfing and hits a ball in the trap he goes in the sand and draws plays in the sand. He’s got all kinds of gadgets and he’s not afraid to use them. He knows what he’s doing. He’s very good at throwing the ball…getting you in matchups and coaching the timing of the passing game. He’s darn good and he’s been very successful.”
On the other side of the ball, O’Keefe sees a stout South Carolina defense that is unlike any other the Hawkeyes have faced this season. The Gamecocks are third in the country in passing defense, allowing 160.25 yards through the air per game, and 11th in total defense (288.92).
“Spurrier is a very confident guy, so he’s not afraid to line up in any kind of crazy formation. I think when he goes golfing and hits a ball in the trap he goes in the sand and draws plays in the sand. He’s got all kinds of gadgets and he’s not afraid to use them. He knows what he’s doing. He’s very good at throwing the ball…getting you in matchups and coaching the timing of the passing game. He’s darn good and he’s been very successful.”
UI defensive coordinator
“They’re good,” O’Keefe said. “They’ve only given up about 289 yards a game, which to me is real good defense these days. They’re big, they’re physical. Their linebackers are 250, 255, 265. They’re a big, physical, well-coached defense that plays multiple fronts and tries to change things up on you and bring some pressure at you. They’re going to try to get as many guys down in there as they possibly can. They play a defense a little different than what we’ve seen from most people this year, but they’re good. They’re very good.”
Iowa’s defense had the luxury of working in several players during the season, which according to Parker, was a plus for team morale.
“Any time you can use a lot of guys, that makes a lot more guys happy,” he said. “They’re happy and their mother’s are happy, so everybody’s happy. We got to use some guys, they got in and contributed and did some good things.”
Parker also that at the beginning of the season he thought the Hawkeyes would have a `decent’ defense and thanks in part to the impact of Spievey, he said they did indeed become a `decent’ defense.
“We got better as the year went on,” Parker said. “Spievey was a pleasant surprise. We didn’t know he’d have that kind of year. The good thing about the defense is that the three seniors — Mitch King, Matt Kroul and Bradley Fletcher — played the best football of their career as seniors.”
Hawkeye fans could see further improvement in the Outback Bowl.
“We can get a lot better from the Minnesota game to the bowl game,” Parker said. “We should get better. We’re a couple weeks older, we’re a couple weeks stronger, we’re a couple weeks more mature.”
Parker brought a roomful of laughs when answering several questions.
About life as solely a defensive coordinator:
“I go screw up this drill for awhile, then I go over there and screw up the next drill and keep walking around, but in doing so I get to know the players better as a group,” he said. “It’s lonely. You have to go over and talk to the weight coach for awhile and talk to the trainer for awhile. It’s a lonely world out there just walking around trying to talk to somebody.”
What kind of safety would Shonn Greene have been?
“Anybody remember the old Rolaids commercial, `how do you spell relief?’ I spell it D-E-F-E-N-S-E. When you play great defense, you can do some things.”
UI offensive coordinator
“A big one,” Parker said. “I don’t think Shonn is a safety. He’d be closer to being a linebacker. He’d be the world’s biggest safety, that’s what kind he would be.”
How are you feeling?
“I feel like I’m 20 years younger,” Parker said. “I’m above ground.”
Would you consider coaching as long as Joe Paterno at Penn State?
“Eighty-five?” Parker asked. “No. Eighty-five? You would have to dig me up to coach. You would have to open the box and get me out. That’s amazing the guy can do that and still have energy to do it. I don’t know how he does it.”
O’Keefe also fielded questions about the early-season quarterback competition, Greene, tight end Brandon Myers, offensive line improvement, the progress of redshirt quarterbacks James Vandenberg and John Wienke and the addition of assistant coach Erik Campbell.
“I’ll give you one example (of what Campbell brought to the program),” O’Keefe said. “The play we threw for a touchdown against Penn State (27 yards from Ricky Stanzi to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos) was an old play they used at Michigan. He’s brought a lot to the table. He’s a great person with an enormous amount of enthusiasm and that’s infectious with the players. All the players enjoy being around him.”
Fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes who live in the Heartland or in the Sunshine State or in all points between should note that the UI Athletics Ticket Office is accepting ticket orders for the 2009 Outback Bowl. To purchase your tickets online click HERE. Fans can also purchase over the phone by calling 1-800 IA-HAWKS or over-the-counter at the UI Athletics Ticket Office in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.