Dec. 27, 2011
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Coaching in the 2011 Insight Bowl will be one of the biggest delights of Norm Parker’s 46-year career. That buzz for the adored and retiring Hawkeye defensive coordinator isn’t because it is his final game.
“Playing Oklahoma is a thrill,” Parker said following Tuesday’s practice at Chaparral High School. “I’ve never played against Oklahoma before. As a kid I’ve always admired Oklahoma; I’ve always thought Bob Stoops was a classy guy. We’re going to play a great team with a great coach — it’s fun. It’s a challenge, but I’ve always admired Oklahoma football.”
Parker’s final defensive game plan will attempt to slow Sooner quarterback Landry Jones, who in 39 career games (36 starts), has averaged 313.3 passing yards and 2.36 touchdown passes a game.
“You’re not going to stop these guys cold, it’s just not going to happen,” Parker said of an Oklahoma team that averages 40.2 points a game.
Last season in the Insight Bowl, Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert (now with the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL) completed 41-of-57 passes for 434 yards and one touchdown…but the Hawkeyes won the game, 27-24.
“They count touchdowns, not first downs,” Parker said.
This season Iowa has faced quarterbacks that could run, quarterbacks that could pass and quarterbacks that could do both. So, does Jones remind Parker of anyone he has seen this year?
“Yeah…Tom Brady,” Parker said. “The guy’s good. He’s probably one of the better quarterbacks in the country.”
Brady, of course, has led the NFL’s New England Patriots to a 12-3 record while completing 65.6 percent of his passes for 4,897 yards and 36 touchdowns.
The Hawkeye defense will face Jones and the 9-3 Sooners on Friday, Dec. 30, in Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. Kickoff is scheduled for 9:05 p.m. (CT). Iowa enters the postseason with a record of 7-5, and searching for its fourth consecutive bowl victory.
“We’re starting to look better and get our legs back a little bit,” Parker said of the Hawkeye defense. “We’re looking better as the week goes on.”
Tuesday’s final media opportunity of Parker’s coaching career provided a forum for reporters to inquire what ingredients he thought were needed to be a good defensive coordinator.
True to form — or true to Norm — his reply was, “good defensive players.”
Then he paused and continued:
“The best teachers are the best coaches,” Parker said. “The guys that can go out and teach an English class are the same guys that can coach a football team. You take young guys, try to motivate them, try to see where the subject matter you’re talking about is important to them, and then constant repetition, repetition, repetition. I believe kids learn through repetition. That’s how you learned your ABCs, that’s how you learned to count to 10 — through repetition. That’s how you learn to stop this play and stop that play. If you see it enough, you’ll stop it.”
Parker refuses to make his retirement storyline the highpoint of the 2011 Insight Bowl. Save the headlines for the players, he says.
“The game has nothing to do with me, this is about the players,” Parker said. “I’m just along for the ride. It’s been a nice ride, but the game is about the players, it’s not about the coaches.”
Quotations from Hawkeye Defensive Players on Tuesday:
Mike Daniels, asked about losing defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski to Nebraska
“It’s the same thing that happens when a player decides to leave or somebody gets hurt…next man in. LeVar Woods has stepped in and done a heck of a job, and we’ll continue to progress through it. It’s adversity, but we’re looking forward to improving from there and keep going up.”
Shaun Prater, on why he chose the University of Iowa
“I used to study Iowa, its style of football and knowing the Big Ten is a very physical conference. As a kid growing up, I was an aggressive guy and I wanted to go to a school to use my aggressiveness and my speed as well.”
Micah Hyde, on the key to playing a successful game against Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl
“As a defense, we have to get stops and turnovers. We have to get off the field and get our offense great field position.”
Jordan Bernstine, on a Sooner offense that averages 532.1 yards a game
“They have a great offense with a lot of playmakers. We have to fly around and make the plays. We’ve been practicing well, we just have to execute Friday night.”