Coaches are never really satisfied with anything this time of year. It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase “we’ve got a long way to go” when the spring practice season winds down.
Add Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker to the list of college coaches hoping to see more out of his team in summer and fall camp. After losing a good chunk of talent following the 2018 season, Parker says the defense is on a bit of a learning curve right now.
“I don’t know if we are ready to play a game right now. I’d say we’re average right now,” Parker said while meeting with the media. “We can be a good team. I don’t know if we can be, you know, what we’re always striving to be; can we be great?“
The Hawkeyes are coming off an incredibly successful season defensively, ranking second in the B1G in scoring defense (17.8 points per game), rush defense (109.5 yards per game) and total defense (293.6). Iowa also led the league in turnovers gained (27) and interceptions (20).
But Iowa loses its two interception leaders in Amani Hooker and Jake Gervase, as well as two stout defensive linemen, Parker Hesse and Anthony Nelson. Replicating the kind of success it had last year defensively would be quite the chore for the Hawkeyes.
Parker hasn’t seen it this spring, but he does believe there’s enough talent on the roster to enjoy similar production from a year ago.
“That comes with a lot of effort and hard work and there’s a long ways to go before we get to our September games,” Parker said. “I think we have a chance. I think we have enough guys, enough talent to do that to be very successful on defense.”
Iowa still has A.J. Epenesa along the defensive line and Geno Stone as a rising player in the secondary. While there could be a drop-off from last year, this group still has potential to be one of the best in the B1G.
It’s just not quite there yet.