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January 1, 2010

Norm Parker


JASON ALPERT: We'll start with Iowa Defensive Coordinator, Norm Parker. Coach, open with a statement about your preparations since you've been in Miami, and what you've been doing to get ready for the FedEx Orange Bowl.
NORM PARKER: Well, we practiced probably four or five times before we came down, and we've just continued to practice. You know, trying to get ready for this Georgia Tech offense. What I really want to do is start off by saying, if you're a football purist, if you're a football purist, this thing is really sort of fun. Because, as you can see, I'm an old guy. And all this triple option stuff sort of started in the late '60s.
These guys have taken this offense and they've made it better and better and better. And when a lot of people got away from the triple option, they stayed with it. So now what was very common is sort of new. It's sort of different.
Just as a football coach, it's sort of fun going back. It's like coaching 20 years ago, you know, even more than that. But I think what these guys have done with this offense, they're, without question, they're the gurus of doing it.
I think Paul Johnson, I can remember when he was an assistant at Hawaii a long time ago, and they've taken this offense and they've refined it.
If you're a football coach and you're just watching it on film, it's really sort of amazing. You've got to look at it and say these guys are really good. I mean, not only are they good at what they do, but they've got good players. And I think they've done a great, great job.
Then last night I'm having fun preparing for it, you know, because it's sort of fun. But last night, you know, Navy got what? 35 points on Missouri running the same offense. Then Air Force got 40-something points on Houston. So all the fun I'm having now might not be that much fun the night of the game.
But they're very well-coached. They're very well-coached. And these guys know what they're doing. To think that you're going to invent something new, hell, they've done this for 30 years. So it's going to be hard to find something they haven't seen before.
They're very good at what they do. Georgia Tech should be very happy with what they've got in Paul Johnson and that offense. They're good. They're good. And as a football coach, you look at them and you sort of tip your hat on them.

Q. Can you explain how that offense operates and why it's so successful?
NORM PARKER: Well, yeah, I can explain it. I need some of these things up here. This is what happened back in Iowa City. Okay, let me do this. I'll do this. That's the fullback. This is the quarterback. We need a couple more. Let me get a couple other guys. I got to get my core players.
This is the defensive end. That is the linebacker. Okay. What they do, the basis of the triple option is they don't block this defensive player, they don't block him. This tackle blocks down inside. The quarterback gets the ball and he puts it in this guy's stomach right there. Now if this defensive guy tackles the fullback, then he pulls the ball and he goes down, and he options the outside linebacker. And if the outside linebacker takes the quarterback, he pitches the ball.
If they were like this, see, here's our fullback. They've got a big fullback, too, so this is good. Let's say this is the defensive end, and here are these two guys coming for what they call the mesh point. And this defensive end doesn't tackle the fullback. He just gives the fullback the ball, and he takes off up the field.
So you know you really have to end up defending -- that is the dive. That guy's the quarterback coming down the line of scrimmage with the ball. Then they've got a pitch back coming around. So you've got the dive, the quarterback, the pitch, or sometimes they'll fake the dive. The quarterback will come down the line, and he throws what you call a buck pass to that guy right there.
So they get your secondary coming up to support the run all the time. Then you come up to support the run, and they give you -- oh, not so fast. I mean, they know what they're doing.
Then they have all these little different offensive line blocking schemes. It's a lot more sophisticated than the person would think if you're just watching it.
But it all starts -- it all starts with the quarterback with the fullback dive play. It all starts with that. I think the reason people got away from it is because it wasn't fancy enough for the public, because they didn't want to see the fullback run up the middle with the ball.
The public wants to see the ball in the air and whoop-de-doo and all that kind of stuff. But these guys, it's pound, pound. If they can give the ball to the fullback on that dive play and gain four yards, they'll do that all day. They'll do that all day and March down the field.
In their last two games they have not punted, you know. When they get the ball at the 50-yard line, and it's 4th and 2, they go for it, because they think they can give the ball to the fullback and get those two yards. And the fullback they have, Dwyer -- it says fullback, but he's not like a fullback. He's like a big tailback. He's a running back. I mean, the guy's good.
And the quarterback is a good runner. I mean, he breaks a lot of tackles. The quarterback is very good. He's about 220 pounds. He comes out and fakes that ball to Dwyer up the middle, and he comes off with it.
Where it breaks down is you've got the guy on him, and having the guy on him and having the guy tackle him are two different things, so that is the basis of it. They've got you defending stuff all over the field.

Q. Which guys are running or playing the fullback, the quarterback, the pitch man on your scout team? Which specific players are you using?
NORM PARKER: Brad Rogers is the fullback. We've used a couple of different guys as the quarterback. We've actually had to take a kid that was sort of an option quarterback in high school and he's sort of running it for us, a kid named Getz.
The thing that's hard, that is extremely hard is trying to prepare for this in a week. You know, when you're do during the season and you have three days to prepare for all this stuff, it's so totally different than anything that you see, and your scout guys can't simulate it at any speed at all. It's all of a sudden the speed of the thing is different than what the scout team and what they've been able to show you.
So having more time to prepare for it is good on one hand. But having -- it's another month for them to think up little wrinkles to do differently, so that sort of washes out.

Q. Your thought of their big wide receiver and what he's been able to do this year, Thomas?
NORM PARKER: I think he's an NFL receiver. I think he's really, really a good guy. You know, you don't find many option teams, "option teams," like this, that have a guy out there that's that good. I mean, he can go up and take the ball away from you.
I mean, they'll take things where they'll fake the option this way just momentarily, the quarterback stands up and throws that guy the ball. And basically all you have out there is a corner out there one-on-one with them. And the guy's 6'3", 230. He sort of slaps the corner away and runs for a touchdown.
I mean, that guy is good. He could be a receiver in any offense. I think he's probably -- they sort of think he's an NFL quality receiver. He's good. And he's a great blocker. You know, they come out on the corner and he's blocking your defensive backs. You've got some guy, 5'10", 180 pounds on him, here comes this guy, 6'3", 230 pounds blocking him, and he runs them over the bench.
They're good. They are well-coached. They're well-coached, good players and they know what they're doing.

Q. My question has to deal with watching the way Georgia Tech's offense has played. It seems like their line, the way they block, very fundamentally sound. Is fundamentals even more crucial against this type of offense? It seems to be like clock work than maybe running against a prototype offense?
NORM PARKER: Yeah, I think you know there's an old saying that, football is still a game of minutes, not a game of systems. And you're still defeating blocks and getting off blocks and them blocking you and tackling the guy with the ball.
But they're very well-coached. And if we're not playing as good as we can play, that ball's going to go flying up-and-down the field, you know. But they're very he good at what they he do.
To counter that, you better not be fundamentally unsound. If you're fundamentally unsound, you're going to get killed. That ball will be a track meet.

Q. Could you talk about -- I know it was early in the season, September, but Miami held Georgia Tech to 95 yards rushing, and just dominated them after getting killed the year before. In looking at the tape, what did Miami do to stop them? And I know Dwyer didn't have a good game and he might have been injured, but?
NORM PARKER: You know, we've watched that tape a lot. And really the thing Miami did is they defeated blocks, and they had guys coming from inside out. I mean, Miami really played well. They played well, and Miami's front four guys I thought played awful well in the game. I mean, he they played well. They got off blocks.
What you have to do is you have to sort of take your assignment, my assignment is done. I've got to do that. Now I've got to be half a guy helping the next guy out. And they really did a good job of that.
You know, Miami's got good defensive front guys.

Q. But it's very important that you're disciplined, right, going against that kind of offense?

Q. That you're very disciplined going against that kind of offense?
NORM PARKER: They make you disciplined, yeah. They make you disciplined, you know. I mean, they're just waiting. They horse around and they figure out what you're doing and then they make their little adjustment, and they got you.
And it's amazing watching their films because basically early in the game they move the ball real well. Because I'm sure it's happening faster than that defensive team is used to seeing it, because you can't simulate it that fast. Then as the game goes on, the defenses start to sort of catch up to the speed of the thing a little bit.
But as the game goes on, they catch up to what you're doing defensively, and they make their adjustments, so. It's fun to coach against them. It really is. I think they really do a good job. I don't know how much fun we'll have that night of the game, but this has been fun.

Q. What is Tyler Sash's job this game?
NORM PARKER: What is Tyler Sash's?

Q. What is his job in this game against this offense?
NORM PARKER: Well, there are sometimes that he's going to be the guy responsible for taking the pitch. There are some times he's going to be the guy responsible for taking the dump pass. You know, when they come down to block you, when they release down field to block you, these guys chop you. Some guys come down the field to block and you they stay up you on their feet and try to run with you.
These guys come down the field, and when they come down, they're trying to saw you in two, and they're very good at it. They're very good at it.
So the secondary's got to defeat chop blocks. They've got to get off the low blocks. Then when it's pass, they've got to play pass. When it's run, they've got to play run. And don't get fooled, which, in the heat of the game, it's not that easy.

Q. How would you say practices have gone since you've been down here in Miami as a team?
NORM PARKER: Good, good, good. I think the kids are you know, there is sort of a reflection of their head coach. They work hard. Our players are hard working guys. They really are. And they can separate time to go to the beach and time to go to practice. I think that's all going pretty good. We haven't had any incidents or, you know, knock on wood. But it's gone pretty good, I think.

Q. Talking about their blocking scheme a little bit, is it different than a lot of the other schemes that you played against?
NORM PARKER: Oh, yeah. Because they're going to run. It's like we're going to run a play that way, and we're not going to block two guys. You say you're crazy. You're going to run a play that way and you're not going to block two guys? But when you don't block those two guys, you can take your offensive tackle and rather than block the guy over him, he goes inside and blocks a linebacker or he goes up and blocks the free safety, you know.
The schemes are entirely different what they do, yeah. And then they do have what you'd call basic offensive plays. They get you playing all these schemes and all this I got him, I got him, I got him. Then they just take an old-fashioned football play and run it down your throat while you're trying to, you know I got him, and I got him, and I got him deal.

Q. They seem to get to the second level pretty good.
NORM PARKER: Yeah, yeah, real good. That's why I say when they get to the second level, and they get to the linebackers or up to the secondary, they're going to cut you. They're going to cut you. They're not going to stay on their feet. Sometimes you get a guy 6'6", 300 pounds, he tries to stay on his feet, you can dodge him.
That's how you live, getting away from those guys. These guys come down there, and they're just trying to chop your knees. They're after you. They're after you.
I'm sure one of the problems is that if that gets in your mind where your defense is afraid to get cut then all of a sudden, they're playing with their hands down there low. They're so afraid to get cut, they quit playing football. When they slow you down, they slow you down. Rather than just run to the ball and play like you've got to play like, oh, my God, he's going to cut me. When you're doing, Oh, he's going to cut me, they're running by you with the ball. So they put a little bit of intimidation in your mind, I'm sure of that.

Q. What's it about like coaching Anger and Edds? And what are you going to miss most about them?
NORM PARKER: Anger, Edds and who else?

Q. Those two guys.
NORM PARKER: It's been fun. Because those two guys are really what college football should be about. They're hard working, young guys that are good students. Edds has already graduated. Anger's going to graduate. They've gotten better year after year after year. They're nice kids. It's really what college football should be about.
I think sometimes we get lost that it's only about winning and all that kind of stuff. And they're what it's -- you can't find a nicer kid than Edds or Anger, you know. Edds is super intelligent. We call him the Senator. If you ask him a question, it's about a ten-minute answer. So be careful when you ask him a question.
But they're -- they're good kids from good families. They're just nice kids.

Q. Going back a little bit to the blocking part. Can you in layman's terms tell me what the difference is between a cut block and a chop block? What determines whether or not a penalty is thrown on a play?
NORM PARKER: Well, what they've put in -- which is a good rule -- the terms sort of overlap. But where a guy gets a penalty -- where a guy gets a penalty I've got to go back to my things again. Let's say the microphone is the defensive guy. This is the defensive guy. This is an offensive guy, and this is an offensive guy.
A chop block is when this guy blocks him and that guy cuts his knees out. In other words, you're cutting his knees out while another guy is engaged with him. You get what I'm saying?
In other words, you can't do this, this guy stand him up and that guy chop him. That's what they call the chop block that they're penalizing you for.
Now what I'm talking about a cut block is this is a defensive back and here comes a guy out to block him. You know, they're sort of out there in open area, those two guys. He just throws at his he knees and cuts him down. I mean that's, you know.
But the chop block, the penalty block is when one guy's engaged with him, and another guy chops him. And that's a good rule, because there are a lot of kids getting hurt with that kind of stuff.

Q. Can you talk about just being a part of a staff that's been able to maintain such continuity under Coach Ferentz and how that's contributed to the success of the program?
NORM PARKER: Well, I think everybody's -- and I'm serious when I say this -- I don't think there is a better guy in the country to work for than Kirk Ferentz. You know, we don't lose guys.
I think every guy really knows that we've got good jobs. We work for a good guy. You know, he pays us well. We're doing all right that way. And Kirk is not one of these guys that, you know, there's a lot of head coaches that get up every morning and take an idiot pill. You know, they think the world revolves and sets around them.
Kirk is a guy that was an assistant coach. You know, let's say that you're coaching a guy and he's going for the tackle, and he trips and falls. Well, he tripped and fell. Some head coaches would come up and chew your ass out because that guy tripped and fell. Okay. I told him to trip and fall, you know. He's the best guy in the world to work for. He has absolutely no ego.
I don't know if you guys have talked to him or not. He cares about the players. He cares about the coaches. He cares about your families. You know, he could tell you the name of every -- not only every coach's kid, but every coach's grandkids. He's an amazing guy to work for. He really is. He's got it in the right perspective. There should be more Kirk Ferentz out there than that. You can't find a better guy.

Q. I'm going to write something about Broderick Binns. Just what can you tell me about him? It looks like he's just all over the place on the stat sheet, and we've seen him do a lot of things in the last year and a half.
NORM PARKER: Well, he's a guy that is a good athlete; you know, played a lot last year sort of in a back-up role. Then when king and Kroll left, we took Ballard, and made Ballard an inside player to get Binns on the field. He's an extremely quiet guy. But he's very athletic. He's a good kid. He's a good kid. He's a hard worker, you know. I don't know did that answer your question?

Q. Well, sure. But if you could expand on that a little bit. I mean, he's got I don't know how many batted balls he's got. I think he's got more than the cornerbacks.

Q. Just what distinguishes him maybe from?
NORM PARKER: Well, I think he's got great timing and anticipation to when the quarterback's going to throw the ball. Then I think if you take a look at him and just look at him physically, he's got -- his wing span is out there now. I mean, his arms are much longer than your arms and my arms, you know. It's amazing. I'm not trying to make him into a freak or something like that.
He has the ability when he leaps up, he's got a little -- he can get up there high. He can get up there high. Higher than you think he could get up there. He's got a knack. He's got timing for it.

Q. What in your opinion makes a good option quarterback? Is there a certain skill other than speed, awareness? Or does it all encompass to make an option quarterback be able to to make it tough to defend?
NORM PARKER: Well, first thing, the guy's got to be smart. Because defensively, let's say that you're a balanced offense. So you've got on -- you're balanced offensively. But the defense lines up with six guys over there and five guys over here. Then you've got to change the play and head over toward the five guys.
You've got to know the defenses, you've got to know what you're looking at and which way am I headed? Out of this front, what plays work? So he does a lot of audiblizing up there, changing the plays. Getting them into the right play.
I think this guy's a hard runner. He's an extremely hard guy to tackle. He's not like what you think of a quarterback. He's almost like a good tailback with the ball or almost like a fullback with the ball running. I mean, he's a hard runner. He's not a Fancy Dan runner, but he can break tackles.
You can't tackle him with one hand. It's not like a quarterback you can reach out and grab and throw down. He's not that kind of guy, and he's a tough kid. Because they're not afraid to run him. They run him, and run him, and run him.
If the play's there for the quarterback -- in other words, when the whole thing starts, they don't know who is going to get the ball. It all depends on what you do. It might be the fullback, it might be the quarterback, it might be the pitch back. But it all depends on what you do.
But they're not afraid, if you're playing a certain way, to run that quarterback ten times in a row. It's not like they're afraid to run the quarterback. A lot of teams are not going to run the quarterback ten times in a row. They think he's going to get hurt or something. They're not afraid of this guy getting hurt. He's a tough kid. The guy could probably be a linebacker.
JASON ALPERT: Coach, thank you very much.
NORM PARKER: Thank you.

End of FastScripts

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