Norm Parker orchestrates a methodical Iowa defense that is quickly earning the reputation as one of the most physical in the nation.
The sheer defensive domination of the No. 5 ranked Nittany Lions helps that reputation greatly. Parker has always coached this type of defense.
Prior to joining the Hawkeye staff in 1999, Parker coached 12 seasons at Michigan State (1983-94), five at Minnesota (1972-76) and three at Illinois (1977-79).
While at Michigan State, the Spartans won the 1987 Big Ten title. In 1988 they won the Rose Bowl by defeating USC, 20-17.
He has a long tenure as a coach in the Big Ten, and it has helped him gain a plethora of experience. That experience is key to Iowa's having won seven out of the last eight against Penn State.
Parker knows how to build top tier defenses.
The one Kirk Ferentz and Parker are building this year might go beyond the ordinary top tier defense, though. It might be one for the history books.
So far this year, Iowa ranks eighth in scoring defense, 32nd in pass defense and 33rd in total defense. Dating back to last year, Iowa’s defense has not allowed a rushing touchdown in 29 consecutive quarters.
Another interesting fact is that Iowa has scored 47 points following 13 opponent turnovers. Those nine interceptions, three forced fumbles and one blocked punt speak volumes, especially if you consider that Iowa's first four opponents this season have a combined record of 12-4.
All four losses are the result of the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Aside from the Sash and Greenwood Traveling Interception Show, much of the Hawkeye defense was unknown to the nation until Saturday's game at Penn State.
Now, all of Parker's front seven are household names in the state of Iowa. The band The White Stripes would call them a Seven Nation Army. Three of them are now on the NFL's most wanted list.
Defensive end Adrian Clayborn is the undisputed leader of the Iowa Hawkeye defense.
"We all rally around him. He's the general for the D-line. We look for him to get us going when we're down," states defensive tackle Christian Ballard.
Clayborn is a 6'3", 280 pound junior. The assumption is that he is human. But Clayborn more resembles a cyborg—a cybernetic human being whose body has been taken over in whole or in part by electromechanical devices.
Clayborn might be a Terminator.
Clayborn showed his terminator-like qualities when he pancaked Penn State's Nick Sukay, then blocked a punt, picked the ball up and ran 53 yards into the end zone. That earned him Big Ten Special Team’s Player of the Week.
Iowa's other starting defensive end, Broderick Binns, might also be a sophisticated cyborg.
Binns finished Saturday's game with eight tackles, two-and-a-half tackles for loss, one-and-a-half sacks and a forced fumble. His sack of Daryll Clark led to a safety for Iowa, and earned him ESPN.com's Big Ten Player of the Week.
Defensive tackles Karl Klug and Christian Ballard are no slouches, either.
Klug has 18 tackles on the year (five-and-a-half tackles for loss) and leads the team in sacks with two-and-a-half.
Ballard quietly closes running holes like fat kids eat donuts.
The Hawkeye linebackers are monsters in their own right, too. Pat Angerer, Jeremiha Hunter, and A.J. Edds are arguably the best linebacker trio in the country.
Angerer had a team-high 14 tackles against Penn State. He also recorded his first interception of the season. That performance earned him the official Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.
Last year, Angerer was tied for the team lead in interceptions with five. He is currently the team leader in total tackles with 36.
Hunter is second on the team with 33 tackles.
Edds has 23 total tackles and an interception on the year.
And those are just the stats for the front seven. Add in the secondary, and Iowa has one of the most complete defenses in the country.
While Parker's defense might not be at the top of every statistical category in the league, they are a dominant force to be reckoned with and will make teams look bad.
This all comes from a guy who had to have another toe surgically removed this past summer, after an infection formed.
Parker, who has diabetes, also had a toe removed in 2004 for a similar infection.
The Iowa Hawkeyes won a Big Ten championship that year.
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