Sept. 23, 2015
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By MATTHEW WEITZEL
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa seeks its first 4-0 start in six years Saturday when the Hawkeyes entertain North Texas at 2:32 p.m. (CT) at Kinnick Stadium.
North Texas enters Saturday’s contest with a 1-1 record, averaging 215 yards passing and 143 yards rushing. UI defensive coordinator Phil Parker said after Wednesday morning’s practice that the Hawkeyes need to be prepared for a Mean Green offense that likes to spread the ball.
“They give you a lot of play-action pass looks; it could be a run or a pass based on what they’re doing,” Parker said. “If you’re giving up the outside, they’re going to throw it. If you’re taking away the passing game they’ll run the ball. They’re counting the guys in the box and it’s going to be a challenge for us.”
Iowa enters Saturday’s game with the Big Ten’s best rush defense, yielding only 51 yards per game. Parker said the team’s effectiveness in stopping the opponents’ rushing game comes down to fundamentals.
“Our guys have gotten to the ball carrier with good leverage and we’re tackling well.”
Having a successful defense starts with communication and Parker said he likes the defensive leaders on this year’s team.
“There are a lot of guys who give input out there,” he said. “Jordan Lomax is on the back end and then Desmond King does a lot of good things by what he does with his energy out there. Josey Jewell is the leader inside. I believe everybody, collectively as a unit, are doing a good job.”
King brings not only energy, but has been a difference maker through three games. The junior cornerback is tied for the conference lead with three interceptions, two of which came in last week’s win over Pitt. The native of Detroit also ranks fifth on the team in tackles (15). Despite the flashy numbers, Parker said King continues to practice hard and has been watching film in order to improve.
“Desmond is a good football player,” Parker said. “He played well the last couple games, obviously, but if you look at the tape there’s some things that he knows he can improve on and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
With one nonleague game remaining, Parker would like the see the team limit the big plays before heading into Big Ten competition.
“We’re giving up too many big plays,” said Parker. “I think we have given up 12 so far this year, 10 of which have come in the passing game, so we need to clean those up and play better as a unit.”
Tickets are available for Saturday’s game by calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS or visiting hawkeyesports.com.