Long time Iowa defensive coordinator, Norm Parker, retired at the end of last season. The new man is Phil Parker (no relation), who has coached the defensive backs at Iowa for 13 years.
Norm Parker spent 48 years in the coaching ranks of college football. In his final season of coaching, he won the AFCA assistant Coach of the Year Award.
Iowa's newest defensive coordinator is fortunate that he has spent the past 13 years coaching as a member of Norm Parker's staff. Hopefully, for Iowa football, the newest Parker to be a coordinator here will maintain the success of his predecessor.
Norm Parker's defenses are well known as being stingy in allowing opponents to score. In three of the final five years at Iowa, Parker's defenses ranked in the Top 10 nationally on points allowed. Last season was the first time in eight years Iowa averaged allowing more than 21 points per game (23.8).
In the world of college football defense, anything under 25 points per game allowed is good—under 20 is great! Iowa had become accustomed to a defense that allowed under 20 points per game with Norm Parker.
Going into 2012, Phil Parker's first defense has some issues that must be addressed, but he also has a lot of good, young players who can be molded into a strong unit.
The area needing the most work this fall is the defensive line. In the past two seasons, the defensive line has lost four players to the NFL draft and three others who accounted for 25 starts last season. So, to say they are young is an understatement.
The unit is so young, long time offensive line coach, Reese Morgan has moved over to coach the defensive line. The hope is the additional intensive training by a proven line coach will bring the unit along much quicker.
How well this group performs will go far in determining the overall success of the defense in 2012.
The linebacker group returns two of the top three starters from last year. This group should be improved with the additional experience. Junior Anthony Hitchens should be the third starter, along with juniors James Morris and Christian Kirksey, who were starters last season. Morris was a freshman All-American in 2010 and honorable mention All-Big Ten last year.
There are some capable players behind the starting unit here. So, linebacker appears to be in good shape coming into the season.
The defensive backfield loses two more players to the NFL draft. Still with the experience gained by the returners and the highly touted new players, this unit should perform at least as well—and hopefully better, than last year.
All together, the new coordinator has his work cut out for him this season. If his defensive unit can match the slightly under normal numbers of Coach Norm's defense last year, he will be off to a great start.
The future looks bright on the defensive side for Iowa long term. This year is where the question marks lie. It will be interesting to see how the staff makes it all work through this important transition.