Posted by: marcmwm | April 14, 2009

Parker, O’Keefe on the hot spots

Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker said the Hawkeyes are looking at a committee approach at defensive tackle during a Tuesday news conference. ((AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker said the Hawkeyes are looking at a committee approach at defensive tackle during a Tuesday news conference. ((AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Iowa Hawkeyes will go into ’09 with a spot in the preseason rankings. That doesn’t mean they don’t have their hot spots.

When asked about the defensive tackles Tuesday, coordinator Norm Parker talked about a D-line “by committee.” Offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe had a lot of names for the O-line and even more at wide receiver.

“If we had to go out and play today, it’d be sort of a work by committee in there,” Parker said. “We’d play Karl Klug, Michael Daniels. Chad Geary (out with a leg injury) has worked in there. . . . Travis Meade (who moves over from guard) has come over from offense and has looked decent in there.”

What’s old is new on the O-line. Dace Richardson, who’s missed the last two seasons with knee problems, is getting a good look at left guard. Senior Rafael Eubanks, who started 21 games before sitting behind Rob Bruggeman last season, is listed as No. 1 starter ahead of junior Josh Koeppel.

“The offensive line is where everything begins and ends for us, it always has been,” O’Keefe said. “We don’t see that ever changing. Our style of play, you’d better have some guys up front if you’re going to move the football, especially the way we play. We’ve got to have guys up front.”

The Hawkeyes wrap up spring practice with a scrimmage Saturday at the Kenyon Practice Facility. The scrimmage isn’t open to the public.

Richardson’s return is may be the news of the spring.

“Knee problems” don’t begin to describe the nearly two-year odyssey the 6-foot-6, 305-pounder has endured. He’s played just one game the last two seasons because of knee issues. Last winter, he went through reconstruction and alignment. Last fall, he had another surgery to clear out some cartilage.

“I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better,” Richardson said in a December interview. The knee problems actually flared up in 2006, when he was able to start just eight of 13 games.

The details of Richardson’s surgery might give some insight into the length of the rehab. It’s complicated, but here’s how he tells it:

“They took my bone and cut it and shifted it over to relieve stress on it,” he said. “All the pounding I was doing  was tearing away at my cartilage. It was starting to give me some deep bone bruising and that was preventing me from playing well.”

It’s a feel-good story, potentially. There’s a long way to go, obviously.

“First of all, we’ve seen Dace, which is outstanding. It’s great to have him back,” O’Keefe said. “I’ve been surprised to how easily he’s fit in to some of the things we’ve asked him to do up front with all of the time he’s had away from football.

“You can’t underestimate all that time away. You get some in the weightroom, some in the film room, but not playing and not competing is what it’s all about. When you haven’t done that for awhile, you don’t know how it’s going to shake out.”

The other hot spot for the offense is wide receiver. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos’ status was a subject Tuesday. He’s currently listed No. 2 at X-wide receiver behind sophomore Marvin McNutt.

Here’s the discrepancy: McNutt is essentially a first-year wide receiver. He switched from quarterback at the beginning of last season. Johnson-Koulianos has led the Hawkeyes in receptions the last two seasons.

“Competition is open on our side of the ball for sure,” O’Keefe said. “One of the things that will help you compete and be successful is discipline. Guys have to be disciplined to play their positions and to be able to improve at their positions. That’s something that Marvin has been able to show us.”

Left cornerback is wide open, Parker said. Junior Jordan Bernstine is listed No. 1 with sophomores Shaun Prater and Willie Lowe in competition.

“That door is open,” Parker said, meaning the competition is far from being decided. “All the doors are open, but that one’s open.”

And here’s one that might surprise you, or maybe not. Before junior Jeremiha Hunter latched onto the weakside linebacker position, the job was junior Jeff Tarpinian’s. Tarpinian started the season with a bad hamstring, and Hunter seized the position, finishing second with 80 tackles, including 5 for loss.

“Closer than Hunter thinks it is,” Parker said, responding to a question about the competition. “It’s close, it’s close. I think Tarpinian is going to be a good player. . . . Tarp is a real hard worker and very smart kid and he’s done some real good things. I feel good about that position.”

Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe sees sophomore WR Marvin McNutt on the rise and is just plain glad to see OL Dace Richardson. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe sees sophomore WR Marvin McNutt on the rise and is just plain glad to see OL Dace Richardson. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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Responses

  1. Norm is gonna make Jeremiah work and KOK is doing the same thing with DJK though I don’t think they’re analogous situations.

    I think Tarp is pretty darn good and DJK is good, not the Internet legend we watched, but solid and a little caught up in himself?

    Barring injuries, and other crap, this is going to be a really fun season.

  2. I agree, Drew. One is getting the most out of a player. The other is getting the most out of a position.

    The worst thing about spring football? Still some 150 days til kick.


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