IOWA CITY – Phil Parker plans to heed the advice of his predecessor.
The Iowa football program’s new defensive coordinator said Friday that recently retired Norm Parker encouraged him to follow his beliefs and trust his abilities as he transitions into his new role.
“The advice he gave me was that you’ve got to do it your way, the way you want to do it, because it’s your job, the one in charge,” Parker said. “He told me to just be myself and do what I do and that’s the plan. Then, we’ll see where it goes from there.”
Iowa’s defensive backs coach throughout his first 13 years on the Hawkeyes’ staff, Parker was named last month to succeed 48-year coaching veteran Norm Parker to lead the defensive unit.
He plans no seismic changes.
The Hawkeyes will stick with a 4-3 base defense, but will likely add a wrinkle or two to reflect the beliefs of their new coordinator and reflect recent changes in the game.
“Really when it comes down to it, you’re still teaching fundamentals, and it’s going to come down to getting off blocks and making tackles and keeping guys from scoring,” Parker said. “You look over the last 10 years, and we’ve been pretty good on defense. We’ve been sound, fundamentally sound, and we haven’t given up many points although this past season, we gave up a few.”
Iowa allowed 23.3 points per game last season, the most surrendered by a Hawkeye team since allowing 27.5 per game in 2000.
“The more offenses change and the more formations they give you, there’s a lot more gymnastics as far as getting guys lined up on how to play and how to play fundamentally sound,” Parker said.
Parker said that is where his task begins when Iowa opens spring drills on March 24.
He compares the youth that Iowa will have on defense next season, particularly on the line, to the new roles the coaching staff is adjusting to at this point.
All three Hawkeye defensive assistants, line coach Reese Morgan, linebackers coach LeVar Woods and secondary coach Darrell Wilson, will be transitioning to new coaching assignments in 2012.
Parker said he likes the composition of the coaches he now leads.
While Wilson has coached linebackers during his 10 seasons at Iowa, he prepared to replace Parker as Iowa’s secondary coach as a player, competing at cornerback and safety in the Canadian Football League.
Woods is a former Hawkeye linebacker who played the position for seven seasons in the NFL, while coaching the offensive line at Iowa since 2003 has provided Morgan with plenty of perspective on line play and the needed technique.
Parker’s new role involves overseeing it all, an opportunity he has waited for.
“Everybody is a little bit young and eager to move on and grow in their positions as coaches,” Parker said. “Our defense is the same way. Our defense is very young but we do have some young guys who have played, and improvement will be important as we proceed.”
Unlike new Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis, who spent 15 seasons working as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Mack Brown at North Carolina and Texas, Parker will be working fulltime as a coordinator for the first time in his 25-year career next fall.
“Their backgrounds are very different, but I feel like they’re the same kind of guys,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “They’re going to be able to command the respect of the players, give them good direction and also be very, very good team players. I think that’s a critical element of any football staff.”