Bringing Home the Bacon

Nov. 26, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS — It’s not often University of Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker is on the losing side of the Hawkeye-Minnesota football rivalry.

From 1999 to present — as defensive coordinator for Iowa — Parker and Iowa has won the Floyd of Rosedale trophy eight of 11 times. As defensive line coach for the Golden Gophers from 1972-76, Minnesota won four of five. While Parker was coaching the Golden Gophers, there was a player named Bob Weber. His son, Adam, who followed in his father’s footsteps to Minnesota, will start a 50th time at quarterback tomorrow when Iowa and the Golden Gophers meet for the 104th time with a 2:37 p.m. start inside TCF Bank Stadium.

“Weber, the quarterback has been here forever it seems like,” Parker said Friday from the team hotel in Minneapolis. “He has a lot of experience. Weber’s a sharp kid and he can run. He’s got some speed.”

Weber has completed 56 percent of his passes this season for 2,515 yards and 20 touchdowns. He has run for 133 yards.

No. 24 Iowa won the last three meetings in the series including back-to-back shutouts in 2008 (55-0) and 2009 (12-0). The Golden Gophers were the surprise of the league Nov. 13 when they went to Illinois, rolled to 361 yards and defeated the Illini, 38-34.

“They’re good-sized and they have a good, tall wideout (6-foot-3 Da’Jon McKinght),” Parker said. “They have some ability to move the ball. The way they moved the ball against Illinois sort of shocked everybody. Then the guy that returns kickoffs (Troy Stoudermire) was a terror against us when he was a freshman.”

McKnight has caught 46 passes for 705 yards and 10 touchdowns; Stoudermire averages 27.9 yards on 28 kickoffs with a long of 90.

Parker has returned to the Hayden Fry Football Complex on a limited basis since he was hospitalized for complications from diabetes Sept. 10, and had his right foot amputated about 10 days later.

“It feels good to be back,” Parker said. “I don’t get in there as long as I used to; I don’t get to watch as much film as I used to. Then I’ve got this physical therapy that I have to go through every day, so the other three guys (defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski), defensive backs coach Phil Parker and linebackers coach Darrell Wilson) are running the show. I’m sort of an observer who throws in his two cents every once in a while.”

Iowa’s defense is ranked sixth among 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in scoring (15.45 points per game) and 14th in fewest yards allowed (311.18 per game). In the last four games, the Hawkeyes have not allowed a team to score more than 21 points, limiting No. 5 Michigan State to six, Indiana to 13, Northwestern to 21 and No. 7 Ohio State to 20.

“We lost a couple games we shouldn’t have lost,” Parker said. “If we would have made a big stop in the Ohio State game when we had them fourth-and-10, we may have won the game. It’s been up and down. They’ve gotten a lot of publicity, but our defensive line has really played well. The secondary has played well and we’re banged up at linebacker. If you look at those three groups, we’re banged up at linebacker.”

The Hawkeyes have had their share of injuries at linebacker, but a 19-year old true freshman in the middle has caught Parker’s eye.

“The one guy who has done a great job since he’s been in there is James Morris,” Parker said. “Last year he was playing for Solon High and the other night he’s playing in front of 72,000 on national TV against Ohio State. That’s a pretty good jump.”

Morris is fifth on the team in tackles with 55. In front of him are senior Jeremiha Hunter (76), sophomore Micah Hyde (70), junior Tyler Sash (66) and junior Shaun Prater (57).

There is snow on the ground in the Twin Cities and the forecast tomorrow calls for sun and few afternoon clouds with a high of 29 degrees and West winds from 5-10 miles per hour. When Parker coached here in the 70s, there were not many cold games, he said.

“I don’t remember a cold, cold day of a game,” he said. “I remember it snowed one time, but it got up to 30-some degrees. There was snow on the ground, but it wasn’t that cold as the day went.”