Might as well get it out of your system now. And don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.
Will Iowa blitz more under Phil Parker than it did Norm Parker?
C’mon, let it out. It’s OK. It’s a valid question. You probably know the answer. The silent majority of you have already arrived at a reasonable conclusion: Don’t let your defense get into a position to where it has to blitz.
Every coach is different. Phil Parker will have his say in which direction the Hawkeyes go, but don’t expect a huge change from a 4-3, two gap, zone coverage philosophy that worked way more often than it didn’t during Norm Parker’s 13 seasons at Iowa.
During the elder Parker’s era, he helped the Hawkeyes to the second, third, fourth, fifth and seventh best rushing defense seasons in school history. The 2008 defense allowed 13.0 points per game, which is tied for the ninth best mark in a single season in Iowa history.
Here’s Kirk Ferentz on what defense means to his vision at Iowa: “It’s a huge chunk of what we are.”
That’s subtext with Iowa. The Bermuda Triangle at running back gets a ton of attention. Marvin McNutt’s interstellar season in ’11 was somewhat noteworthy. And one of the big storylines in ’11 was James Vandenberg’s first season at starting QB.
Iowa is more defense than offense. The defense smothers, while the offense grinds and sets up. There, that’s it. That’s Iowa football. It works when the players on the line of scrimmage are NFL-caliber. It struggles when the LOS consists of new and unproven players.
(It is a fair question to wonder how much of Iowa’s defensive philosophy came from Ferentz at the beginning, in 1999. Did Norm Parker draw up the initial philosophy? Or did Ferentz hand him the general scheme and say go? I don’t know if we’d get a clear answer.)
So, Phil Parker carries the weight of “huge chunk of what we are.”
How much more will he blitz? I’m actually not kidding here. I think Iowa can and maybe will blitz more.
Not the all-out free safety kind of stuff, but remember after Iowa’s 13-3 defeat at Penn State last season? Remember how Ferentz praised the Nittany Lions’ defense to the high heavens (and hey, given the results of what happened on the field, who was to argue)?
I think Iowa could end up gambling along the lines of Penn State’s zone blitz philosophy. It’s not so much gambling as it is confusion for an offense.
The zone blitz is as conservative as a D-coordinator can be while still being aggressive. It’s a blitz with zone coverage behind it. Linebackers and defensive backs are the blitzers while zone coverage attempts to hold up the overall philosophy of the zone blitz – don’t give up the big play.
If you had a nickel for every time you’ve heard “don’t give up the big play” come from anyone on an Iowa defense in the last 13 years, you’d have 1,758 nickels.
Another Norm Parker tenet that I see carrying over is simplicity, which also fits the zone blitz scheme. At Penn State, when a zone blitz is called, it is run no matter what kind of advantage it might give the offense. The thought is the blitz is so disciplined and has been executed thousands of times since August training camp, it should work no matter what. (The defensive back picked to blitz does have to make a read on whether he needs to drop in coverage, so it’s not a brain-dead operation.)
Aggressively conservative. Simple. Promotes action over reaction. Maybe Ferentz could sign off on that.
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