Parker Pursues the `Best 11'
April 11, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- For the time being -- the next seven spring practices anyway -- University of Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker will roam the practice field.
That will change once games begin, he said.
"I'll probably be upstairs, you see the big picture from there," Parker said Wednesday at a press conference in the Hayden Fry Football Complex. "I was up in the box when I first came here, and I was in the box when I was at Toledo. Kirk might want me up there just to stay away from the officials."
All joking aside, Parker's primary quest since taking over as defensive coordinator two months ago has been to analyze the big picture to find the `best 11' Hawkeye defenders.
"You always have to figure out a way to put your best players on the field," Parker said. "If you have to put a nickel guy in and an extra defensive back in situations, then you do so. But you want to make sure you have your best 11 guys on the field that are going to help you win. We're going to look for the best guys that can help us play. If it means we add another secondary guy, then we'll add another secondary guy."
Fifteen of 17 players on the spring depth chart at linebacker or secondary are letterwinners. That's the case for one of eight on the depth chart on the defensive front.
"We've made progress," Parker said of the defensive line. "It's a learning process just getting out there. A lot of them are young, and trying to understand the footwork and their assignments right now. A lot of them are showing everybody that they're willing to learn and give a great effort, so we're happy with that."
One of the Hawkeyes that continues to earn praise is freshman Melvin Spears. Parker says the 6-foot-2, 255-pound Spears has come out and performed well during camp. He's not alone.
"Joe Galione is a solid kid at left end right now," Parker said. "Louis (Trinca-Pasat) is doing an excellent job. (Darian) Cooper has really improved. It's a learning process just getting out there."
Depending on class schedules, the veteran of the group -- senior Steve Bigach -- has played tackle and end.
"It's good for him, it could happen in a game," Parker said. "You have to have guys doing a little bit of everything in the spring to help them out so it's not a big surprise in the fall."
The Hawkeyes return to practice Wednesday afternoon and will have three more before Saturday's Iowa Football Spring Practice presented by Coke Zero. Parker wants to see effort, but he also wants to see cohesion.
"I want to see our defense come together and get a little chemistry -- knowing each other and what they expect," Parker said.
"We play a seven-man box a lot of times, so we can cheat a guy down and put a little more pressure on the corners," Parker said. "It looks like they took the challenge; every corner thinks he can play man coverage every down, and they've done a good job. But it's not a game situation yet. It's still practice."
Parker and his players have had first-hand exposure to the "redecorated" Hawkeye offense and a key word is hurry-up. That's a good thing when you look at the teams on Iowa's schedule.
"We'll see that (hurry-up) four or five times a year, so this helps us a little bit," Parker said.
The Hawkeyes will hold their annual Iowa Football Spring Practice, presented by Coke Zero, on Saturday at noon (CT) inside Kinnick Stadium. The session is expected to last approximately two hours and will include a controlled scrimmage near its conclusion.