Three cool things:
1. There’s a lot to unpack here, but, in my opinion, there are two games that unequivocally state Norm Parker’s role in Kirk Ferentz’s 20 years as Iowa’s head coach.
Yes, I say 20 years. You know Parker passed away in 2014, just a couple of seasons after retiring as a coach. When Jim Reid made his stop here in 2013, he acknowledged that Iowa’s defense isn’t all that different from what Norm installed.
Norm still runs through this, which, really, is amazing. His coaching career started in 1968 and ended at Iowa in 2011.
In my mind, this is one of the two Norm Parker games.
2. You’re going to read two names in the game story that will make you feel kind of old.
Yes, the LeVar Woods in this is Iowa’s special teams coordinator. I think the whole idea about talking scout team in the postgame came from him. Even then, he saw the importance of getting a good look. That probably still carries.
Former Iowa backup QB David Raih is the Packers WR coach. He was the scout team mastermind. He later would quit a great job in medical sales and take a job at the bottom rung at UCLA. If Iowa’s coaching progression goes the way I think it might, would Raih be Brian Ferentz’s offensive coordinator?
Let’s save that one for later.
3. Ferentz’s first Gatorade bath. I totally forgot that part.
Iowa finished 3-9 in 2000. It wasn’t a great year, but November included a two-OT win at Penn State and this win over Northwestern. The 2000 team was close to being something. You could see that in November.
Quote: “They got me, first time I’ve had one of those,” Ferentz said of the Gatorade bath. “We haven’t won many games, you know that. And we couldn’t afford Gatorade at Maine (Ferentz’s first stop as a head coach).”
Note: In the week before the Iowa game, Northwestern put 54 points and 654 yards on Michigan. In what would become something that happens more often than it probably should, Iowa was outgained in this (377 to 353) and still won.
Why No. 32? — This was originally much lower. Had to bump it up. This was a sign that maybe things were going to be not only OK, but pretty good.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2000
IOWA CITY — They wanted to thank their human photocopy machines. You know, the scout team.
They felt they owed it to the guys who took athletic tape and fashioned the enemy “N” on their helmets. The guys who taped the names “Kustok” and “Anderson” on their practice jerseys and then played Northwestern’s dynamic duo in practice last week.
Good job, fake Kustok. Props to you, imitation Anderson.
“If you guys came to practice, you’d see Dave Raih make whole teams out of athletic tape,” linebacker LeVar Woods said. “Raih (a redshirt freshman) was Kustok, the quarterback. For Anderson, it was Jermelle Lewis, a true freshman, and Hugo Herrera, a senior. Those guys were great. They got us ready.”
Ready is putting it mildly. Iowa was primed, honed, buffed for No. 12 Northwestern.
The Hawkeyes (3-8, 3-4 Big Ten) for the most part spiked the Wildcats’ Rose Bowl hopes with a defensive effort yet unseen in Coach Kirk Ferentz’s two seasons.
They kept turbocharged Northwestern (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten) tethered to the planet in a 27-17 victory Saturday before 54,345 fans, the smallest announced crowd at Kinnick Stadium since the 1984 season.
“The scout team gave us a great look at the no-huddle,” defensive end Anthony Herron said. “It’s not easy to do what Northwestern does. It’s kind of crazy, but our guys did a nice job.”
All it took was some athletic tape to give Iowa its first victory over a team ranked in the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls since a victory over No. 18 Purdue in 1997. It also was the first time Iowa won consecutive games since beating Indiana and Purdue in ‘97. And it gave the Hawkeyes three Big Ten victories for the first time since ‘97.
“Obviously our goal is to go to the Rose Bowl and win the darned thing,” Ferentz said. “But first things first.”
Quarterback Kyle McCann played a squeaky clean game, completing 17 of 27 for 250 yards and two touchdowns. His 1-yard plunge with 6 minutes, 58 seconds left in the game sealed the victory, which was punctuated with a midfield mob of happy Hawkeye humanity.
You could swear it’s the sound of a corner being turned.
“I’m not going to say we’ve figured it out,” said middle linebacker Roger Meyer, who made a game-high 16 tackles, including three for loss. “Maybe you guys can say that, maybe the fans can, but we still have a young defense and a young team. I’ll say we’re growing up, a lot these last few weeks.”
Can’t forget the most photogenic first, the venerable coach’s Gatorade douse.
Ferentz danced a little, but he mostly took it just as he’s taken the criticism he’s faced during two years of struggles. He kind of smiled, kind of joked and went about his business.
“They got me, first time I’ve had one of those,” Ferentz said. “We haven’t won many games, you know that. And we couldn’t afford Gatorade at Maine (Ferentz’s first stop as a head coach).”
They should have saved some Gatorade for defensive coordinator Norm Parker, his staff, every member of Iowa’s defense, the scout team, the video guys, anyone connected with Iowa’s defense. Players’ mothers, anyone, everyone.
Northwestern Coach Randy Walker had the Wildcats’ offense purring, averaging 486.3 yards a game, good for third in the nation.
The Wildcats flummoxed the likes of Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota and just last week hung 54 points and 654 yards on mighty Michigan. Anderson rushed for 268 yards against Michigan, the most one back has gained against the Wolverines.
The temptation is to say that Michigan isn’t so mighty. But the reality is that Iowa’s defense is starting to touch mighty.
After taking beatings against the likes of Kansas State, Nebraska, Ohio State, after throwing as many as three freshmen into the secondary, the Hawkeyes’ defense is officially hot.
“You read a stat and you say, they’re (the Hawkeyes) no good,” said Parker, who brought a 4-3 defense to Iowa last season. “When you start out like we did, it’s like a baseball player not getting a hit for his first 33 times up and then he hits 6 out of his last 10.”
Iowa did a lot more hitting than that Saturday.
Anderson entered averaging 178.1 rushing yards, second in the nation. A meaningless 28-yard gain just before halftime boosted his total to 132 yards on 31 carries. The Wildcats needed an astounding 95 plays to gain 377 yards, an average of 4 yards a play, more than 2 yards off their average.
“People have been trying to get a handle on our offense all year,” Walker said. “(But) I said from the beginning, if we don’t pitch and catch, this offense isn’t very exciting.”
The Hawkeyes racked up a season-high seven sacks on Kustok, who completed 25 of 45 for 248 yards. They held Northwestern to 129 rushing yards, beating the season-low they set last week at Penn State.
They did this out of their straight 4-3, very little blitzing, very little chicanery.
“We were as vanilla as you get,” Parker said. “You couldn’t go to the ice cream store and get more vanilla than we were.”
The Hawkeyes’ offensive numbers don’t blow your hair back.
Iowa slogged, efficiently slogged, to a 13-3 halftime lead behind McCann’s steadiness.
The Hawkeyes scored on three straight possessions between the second and third quarter and took a 20-3 lead on McCann’s 42-yard smart-bomb to Kevin Kasper with 10:13 left in the third period.
Kustok capped a nine-play, 44-yard drive with a 1-yard run to pull Northwestern within 20-10 with 1:59 left in the third.
With 12 minutes left in the game, McCann engineered a 10-play, 57-yard gem of a drive, capping it with a 1-yard dive to give Iowa a 27-10 lead with 6:58 left.
Kustok hit receiver Jon Schweighardt for a 10-yard TD with three minutes left, but that was the last time the Wildcats would see the ball.
McCann’s 19-yard pass to Kasper gave Iowa a first down at Northwestern’s 25 with just more than a minute remaining. All that was left was McCann kneel, McCann kneel.
McCann kneel on Northwestern’s roses.
“It’s a lot of fun right now,” McCann said. “I wish we had more than one game left. I think we’re starting to get it.”
Norm Parker sidebar from 2000
IOWA CITY — Norm Parker needed neither ammunition nor anyone’s permission to gloat Saturday.
You’re not sure the 59-year-old, crusty-as-they-come defensive coordinator has that in him. He’s coached a lot of football in 35 years. If he hasn’t seen it all, he’s heard it.
He’s quietly taken the bad in his two years at Iowa — a defense that has ranked at the bottom or near the bottom of the Big Ten in all major categories — with an eye toward the future. The future being a day like the day his defense turned in Saturday.
The Hawkeyes crumpled No. 12 Northwestern’s offensive juggernaut in a 27-17 victory. Time for a good gloat.
“We were watching our team, our defense, through the year, and we knew we were getting better,” said Parker, who had to be coaxed to meet the media after Iowa’s stunning victory. “I hope I look at the film and it’s good.”
That’s as close as you’ll get to a gloat.
The Hawkeyes held Northwestern, the nation’s third-ranked offense, to 377 yards offense, almost 300 fewer than the Wildcats rolled up on Michigan last week.
“I don’t know what exactly happened to our offense,” Northwestern offensive lineman Jeff Roehl said. “It seemed like we were making all of our blocks, but you’d turn around and our guy would be on the ground with a 5-yard loss.”
Middle linebacker Roger Meyer made a career high 16 tackles, including three for loss. Freshman strong safety Bob Sanders made 14 tackles, 13 of them solo. The defense recorded 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
In other words, they had a plan, Norm’s plan.
“Norm and I sat down last Sunday night and looked at (Northwestern’s) Michigan game, and we were both kind of speechless,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I have input, but Norm is in charge of the defense.”
For the three victories Iowa has had this season, Ferentz has had a lump in his throat. Saturday’s lump came when he talked about Parker, the object of much criticism during Iowa’s defensive struggles.
“I had my choice of hiring anybody in the country, not everybody in the country, but a lot of awful good coaches. We interviewed a lot of good coaches,” Ferentz said. “Norm’s been around. He’s been extremely successful. Norm’s had things in his coaching life and personal life where he’s seen the good and the bad. I looked at that and said, ‘there’s a guy who’s a rock. He’s going to be stable, not get too up or down.”’
Ferentz said he hasn’t had to massage Parker’s or any of his coaches’ egos during the last two seasons.
“We’re a young football team, but I think there’s a lot of future for these kids,” Parker said. “The leadership the seniors gave through the whole thing, when a lot of guys would’ve packed it in, they kept after it.”
Parker was quiet and modest. He gave all the credit to Ferentz for having the Hawkeyes prepared for a physical game. He thanked reporters and then ambled up the stairs to the Iowa locker room.
End of gloat.