Defense Passes Initial Eye Test
Aug. 18, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- At first glance, University of Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker was happy with the performance he saw out of the Hawkeye defense during Saturday's open practice inside Kinnick Stadium, but he wants to see the tape.
"Today you saw some good things," said Parker, who is in his 14th season on the UI coaching staff. "There are going to be some things on the film we're going to be happy with, but there are a lot of things we need to improve.
"They went out there and tried hard and gave good effort, but we'll have to watch the film and see what happened."
The two-and-a-half hour scrimmage featured music and static noise blaring through the sound system inside Kinnick Stadium. Junior linebacker Christian Kirksey says the scenario prepares the Hawkeyes for game day atmospheres.
"In practice you can always give calls to the defensive front, and it's clear as day," said Kirksey, who was tied for the team lead with 110 tackles in 2011. "When there is a lot of noise behind you, you have to make sure you get the call out to the defensive front. It's a bit of a challenge, but you have to work through it, and it prepares you for the game."
Parker's mantra in camp has been about pressure and forcing turnovers. The Hawkeyes showed the ability to do both during Saturday's scrimmage.
"Our guys did a good job, and it seems like a lot of that was our defensive line," said Parker. "You need to get some turnovers to get the ball back for our offense."
Parker says he envisions a rotation on the defensive line during the season, but it is too early to know what parties will be involved.
"If we can go out with eight guys and play with eight guys, that would be great," he said. "A lot of these offenses are no-huddle, so you're going to have to rotate guys in there. We're trying to find out in the next week or two who they are."
Kirksey says the defensive line has shown greatest amount of growth since the start of camp, specifically sophomore defensive tackle Carl Davis.
"Our defensive line has really stepped up," said Kirksey. "That was a very young group coming in, but they showed they can do it, and they can play well.
"Carl is hungry; I can see it in his eyes every time he steps on the field. He's always trying to get better and better, and we saw that today."
"We're trying to figure out if it is Nico Law or Tommy," said Parker. "Tommy has had a good two-a-days, so we're happy with him. We're feeling good about that (battle), and it's a good challenge there."
With classes at the UI starting Monday, Parker says next week's practice will be a new challenge.
"We're back in school and they will have class work and home work to do," he said. "They have to be able to focus and come out to practice next week."
The Hawkeyes open the 2012 season against Northern Illinois on Sept. 1 at Chicago's Soldier Field. Game time is set for 2:30 p.m. (CT), and the game will be televised on ESPNU.