1. Norm ailing – Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker spent time in the UI Hospitals and Clinics on Friday, according to a source.
Around 2 p.m. Friday, Parker, 68, was in a wheelchair with his right foot bandaged. There are no other details. The plan is for him to coach against Iowa State today. The UIHC is across the street from Kinnick Stadium, so logistics wouldn’t be a problem.
There is protocol here. Parker spent time in the UIHC last season before the Indiana game. He entered Kinnick in a wheelchair and from the press box called defense in Iowa’s victory over the Hoosiers. Parker has had an ongoing battle with diabetes. He had a toe amputated before last season after an infection set in.
Parker conducted media day interviews on Aug. 6 from a golf cart with a cast on his right foot, which was there to help heal a sore.
In a response to a summer rumor, Parker said that day he has no plans to retire.
“I don’t have any intention of retiring,” Parker said. “I heard that was a rumor, but there’s no truth to that. Probably the only two ways I’ll leave is they’ll carry me out or Kirk will fire me.”
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz announced in August that the plan was for Parker to coach from the press box this season. He was on the sidelines until Indiana week last year.
2. Ins and outs of ISU’s secondary – Junior cornerback Ter’ran Benton will miss today’s game to attend the funeral of his grandmother in Grand Praire, Texas. Sophomore Jeremy Reeves, a 5-foot-7, 168-pounder, is the backup listed on ISU’s depth chart going into this week’s game.
Senior strong safety David Sims, the Cyclones’ leading returning tackler from a year ago, should return to the Cyclones’ lineup this week. Sims pleaded guilty last month to unauthorized use of a credit card. His in-house punishment included missing the first game, a 27-10 victory over Northern Illinois.
Against the Hawkeyes last season, Sims picked off two passes and had 41 yards in returns.
The Des Moines Register’s Randy Peterson reports here that former Iowa City Regina prep and ISU’s starting free safety Michael O’Connell will fight through a left thumb injury and play in today’s game in his hometown Iowa City.
3. ISU’s zone read – It’s an excellent weapon and the Cyclones use it expertly.
Quarterback Austen Arnaud puts the ball in Alexander Robinson’s belly, reads the backside defensive end and either leaves the ball in Robinson’s gut or pulls it and runs. If the backside DE crashes, the quarterback generally takes the ball to the outside. If the DE reads outside, the running back takes the ball up the middle.
There also is a variation where the quarterback reads the defensive tackle, thus confusing the entire read for the defense.
This week, Iowa players compared defending it to the way the Hawkeyes faced down Georgia Tech’s triple-option. It probably won’t be that easy. Arnaud is a much better thrower than Tech’s Josh Nesbitt and ISU throws the ball more than Tech.
Iowa’s ends, Adrian Clayborn and, probably, Broderick Binns, will be under the gun. If they’re fast enough and make crisp reads, they’ll be able to disrupt and free up a safety or a linebacker to bring another body into the mix. If they don’t, ISU’s O-linemen will open lanes for Robinson and Arnaud, who’s got quick feet and is a load at 6-3, 230.
“First of all, you have to get off blocks and we didn’t do very well at that (last season),” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Secondly, you’ve got to honor — everybody has a position or responsibility they have to honor and you have to be disciplined in that regard. If you’re not, good backs are going to find a way and then Arnaud is a good ball carrier, too, so a little bit of a double-threat.”
Clayborn said he wasn’t disciplined last season.
“You have to play your position,” he said. “Last year, I definitely wasn’t doing that. I was trying to do too much and ended up not doing anything.”
4. Special teams – I believe Iowa has an advantage at punter and maybe on kickoffs, with Mike Meyer’s kicks being a weapon last week against Eastern Illinois. Field goal kicker goes to Iowa State and Linn-Mar graduate Grant Mahoney.
I’m kind of out of words at this point of the week.
Sign in tomorrow morning. More words, video and a pregame show that I really hope I remember to hit and, hopefully, can find among the multitudes in the IC.
Be good to each other. You’re all Iowans. Well, mostly.