Insight Bowl: Hawkeyes want one more win for Norm

2011-12-28T10:30:00Z 2011-12-28T16:47:55Z Insight Bowl: Hawkeyes want one more win for NormBy STEVE BATTERSON, Courier Lee News Service Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. --- Oklahoma's rapid-fire offense isn't the only thing providing players on the Iowa defense with motivation as they prepare for the Insight Bowl.

The Hawkeyes also want to provide defensive coordinator Norm Parker with a retirement gift - one last victory to complete a 48-year resume.

"He deserves it," Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde said Tuesday after the Hawkeyes completed an afternoon practice at Chaparral High School. "He deserves to go out with a win after having the type of career he has had."

Linebacker Tyler Nielsen said providing Parker with one last victory over a ranked opponent is among many reasons the Hawkeyes want to complete the year with a strong effort against an opponent that ranks fourth in the country in total offense.

"It's important to the whole coaching staff, it's important to everybody involved with Iowa football to come out and have a strong performance in our last game with him as our coach," Nielsen said. "It gives us a little extra boost."

Parker, who announced earlier this month that Friday's 9 p.m. game against the Sooners will be the last of his career, discourages such thoughts.

"This game isn't about me. It's about the kids," Parker said.

Parker concedes a few memories have been rekindled as he prepares a defense to take the field one final time.

"You do think back to all of the teams, all of the years a bit. I'd be lying if I said otherwise," Parker said. "Then I turn the tape on and watch Oklahoma and it's back to reality real quick. There's a lot of work to do."

Parker likes it that way.

The 19th-ranked Sooners will challenge the Hawkeyes with one of the fastest-paced offenses Iowa has seen in some time.

Oklahoma has run an average of 82.5 plays in its 12 games this season. By comparison, the Hawkeyes have averaged 65.3 plays per game.

"Playing an offense like this is one of the challenges a defensive coach always looks forward to," Parker said. "What can you do? How can you take them out of their comfort zone? That's what we're trying to figure out right now."

Parker welcomes the challenge. He said Oklahoma is one of the programs he has admired over time.

"I've always been impressed with the way they've played and, in Bob Stoops, they've got a great guy coaching that team," Parker said. "I've always had a lot of respect for Oklahoma football and the way they play."

Parker called Iowa's initial practices in Arizona late last week "a little ragged," but has seen daily progress as the game nears.

He said the skill of Sooners quarterback Landry Jones has helped create the focus he has seen the past two days.

Asked if Jones reminds him of anyone he has seen lately, Parker quipped, "Yeah, Tom Brady. The guy is that good."

He has the type of arm that tests players and coaches alike.

"When you go to a bowl game, you expect to face a challenge and we will. It's a good test for our young men," Parker said. "They will need to be at their best."

Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater doesn't expect that to be an issue.

"We'll be ready to go. We know this is Coach Parker's last game and we want to send him out with the best game we can," Prater said. "It's something we've talked about. We want to give him an effort he can be proud of in his last game."

Hyde considers that the best way the Hawkeyes can thank their retiring coordinator.

"Norm has his own way of getting his message across. When he speaks, you usually learn more than football. He teaches us life, things that we will be able to thank him for many years to come," Hyde said.

"We're going to try to get him one last win, for him, and for ourselves, because that's the way he wants it."

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