Defense Up to the Challenge

Aug 29, 2013

IOWA CITY, Iowa — After three weeks of training camp, game week arrived on Monday for the University of Iowa football team. The Hawkeyes turned their focus on Saturday’s opponent, Northern Illinois, and have been preparing for the Huskies all week.

Northern Illinois, who have won the Mid-American Conference the last two seasons, return 13 starters on offense (8) and defense (5). The Huskies’ main offensive threat is quarterback Jordan Lynch.

Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker has been putting together the game plan this week for his defensive unit.

“This is a very talented team,” said Parker. “They spread the ball out, run a lot of option and also run the quarterback draw, so obviously you have to stop him. You have to make sure you respect all of their players, like we do, and defend the whole field.”

Lynch enters this season as the NCAA record holder for rushing yards by a quarterback in season (1,815) and the owner of 14 NIU school records. Heisman winner Johnny Manziel was the only player to gain more yards of total offense than Lynch a year ago.

When it comes to preparing for a dual threat quarterback in practice, Parker credits the Hawkeye scout team.

“I believe our scout team did a great job preparing, and it all starts there,” Parker said. “I think the guys have been focused.”

In addition to returning an all-American quarterback, the Huskies return an experienced offensive line, returning all five starters from a year ago.

“They have a good offensive line, and I believe our guys are up to the challenge,” said Parker.

Last year, Northern Illinois had a potent offense ranking 12th in the country averaging 38.6 points per game. Iowa’s defense held the Huskies to 17 points, sacked Lynch six times and forced one turnover in its 18-17 triumph in last year’s season-opener in Chicago.

Kickoff for Saturday’s 2013 opener is 2:42 p.m. (CT) and Parker said the team is eager to get the season started.

“Our guys are really excited about getting out there in Kinnick Stadium and seeing the support from our fans,” Parker said.

Northern Illinois will be making its first visit to Iowa City since 2006. The Huskies have lost their last 14 road season openers since 1983.

Tickets are still available for Saturday’s opener. Fans can order online at or call 1-800-IA-HAWKS.