Parker Sees Progress, Expects More

April 22, 2015

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — From the first practice through the 12th, fourth-year University of Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker has seen progress, and he expects more.

“We’re still developing our depth, who is going to be the first team, and who are going to be backups,” Parker said during a Wednesday news conference in the All-American Room of the Hansen Football Performance Center. “We have three practices to go, and we can accomplish a lot if our guys focus.”

After ending the 2014 season on a sour note with a 45-28 loss to Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl, Parker says his approach isn’t different. He wants to get back to playing Iowa football.

“We didn’t show up (in the bowl game),” said Parker. “We were prepared, and there were times when we were in position to make plays, and we didn’t make it. We didn’t play Iowa football the way we were used to playing since I have been here.

“I don’t think we approach things differently. We’re going to be coaching the way we have for the last 16 years. You always look at your scheme. Is it good? What’s the breakdown? There are some things we have to fix.”

Parker said the defense has taken a step forward with the shuffling and maturation of the linebackers. Sophomore Bo Bower moved inside, sophomore Ben Niemann has been elevated to first team on the weak-side, and sophomore Josey Jewell is now a full-time middle linebacker.

Bower and Jewell combined for 89 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, and two interceptions during their redshirt freshman seasons. Niemann had a punt block and return for a touchdown in a 48-7 victory over Northwestern.

“That experience is going to help them,” said Parker.

Parker likes the depth accumulated at the defensive back position with returning starters Desmond King and Greg Mabin and the emergence of Maurice Fleming.

“We have three to five guys coming up,” said Parker. “Fleming has made a push this spring. There are two playing, but we can look at ways of getting three of them on the field at the same time. Those three are above the other guys right now and there is Sean Draper and Malik Rucker, I think we’ll see more from him.”

Parker is looking for the right combination at safety. Miles Taylor, Anthony Gair, and Brandon Snyder are in daily competitions to see who will fit alongside senior Jordan Lomax.

“We’re going to rotate some guys and give them a chance with the first group,” said Parker. “The last practice I have seen some stuff I liked out of Brandon Snyder. There is still a long ways to go.”

Lomax has emerged as a leader of the Hawkeye defense after earning honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition in his first season as a starter. The free safety is Iowa’s top returning tackler after making 92 stops a season ago.

“(Jordan) has done a great job of his leadership,” said Parker. “He has earned the respect with the way he carries himself, practices, and studies the game.”

For information on Saturday’s final spring practice inside Kinnick Stadium HERE.

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