It was Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker's turn to step up to the mic on Monday to preview the Rose Bowl against Stanford. His side of the ball has been one of the staples of this year's success for the Hawkeyes. He's got some terrific players in inside linebacker Josey Jewell, cornerback and Jim Thorpe Award winner Desmond King, and defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson.
They're one of the better defenses in the country but they'll be taking on one of the more dynamic offenses in the nation lead by Heisman finalist Christian McCaffrey.
Parker previewed the matchup with the Stanford Cardinal.
ON STANFORD OVERALL...
"One thing about it, they have a great understanding of what they are. It's very similar to some of the teams, maybe more like Wisconsin. They know what they want to do. They want to run the ball. The thing that they do is they formation personnel you, and they do a good job of taking control of what they want to do, and they do what they do, and we do what we do. It's going to be an interesting battle. They're a very good team, well coached, and we're looking forward to the opportunity."
"I think there are obviously on some certain downs you're going to have to change up what they do. They try to get them on some linebackers by themselves, and I think that's a concern a little bit for us. But we're going to do what we do.
ON DEFENDING CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY...
"He's definitely a great athlete. You've got to make sure you know where he's at. He's at the quarterback, he's at wide receiver. They put him in the backfield. They do a lot of different things with him. So it's a challenge for us, and I think it all goes back to being fundamentally sound at what we do, and play your keys, know what you're supposed to do within the defense. You know, it's going to be hard. It's going to be a good competition for us."
"For what he does in a lot of different things and not seeing him every week, at least when we're in the Big Ten you see the guys a couple times, here you have to go back and you go 13 games back and you see all the things that he can do to hurt you, the preparation is definitely difficult for us. And you've always got to go back and keep on looking and making cut-ups of plays that they have and designed for him."
"Well, one thing, he's hard to tackle. I mean, I think he has good quickness. He has great vision. He sees the holes before they open. People bounce off him. You better be able to tackle and wrap him up. And I think we've got to do a better job of that. Especially after last game, I think he does a good job. You see guys hitting him, and he doesn't go down. I think he has great vision. I think he can put his foot on the ground and go."
ON DESMOND KING...
"Well, Desmond obviously has done a good job this year. He's a very good player. Obviously, do they throw away from us sometimes, sometimes he's very instinctive. He has great balance, he can tackle. So they're going to attack him just like I think everybody else. But he's done a really good job for us and helped us with the turnover ratio."
"I think it's nice to have a guy like that. I think Greg Mabin does a really good job on the other side, and it really allows us to play with two high safeties and be able to read the box a little bit. It gets to be harder a little bit the way the offenses are changing, but to have Desmond out there and know you can rely on him, he's done a great job. He can support the ball, he can defend the run. I think he has great instincts, natural instincts. Besides the balance and stuff, and his quick feet, and he has really good hands."
"I think Desmond can be more consistent. I think sometimes being a good player, I'm expecting him to play at the highest level at every play. For him to get beat in one play is not good enough for my standards and for him. It's my job to make sure that he plays his best on every play, and sometimes that gets to be hard when you're using him at so many different places as a return guy, punt return guy, kickoff return guy. You put him inside, you're playing the star, you're playing so many different defenses and he's at so many different spots, sometimes you've got to be really careful how much you're really wearing him out."
"Mentally he can take everything, which he's a very sharp football player, just probably not having too much. Just be a little more consistent maybe. Don't get too lazy. But I think he's really worked hard. It's easy for a guy with that kind of accolades to go ahead and take it easy. But he's been practicing really well doing the prep for the Rose Bowl."
ON JOSEY JEWELL...
"Obviously the middle linebacker's in charge, and you need somebody up the middle. You always need a guy as a defensive tackle, up the middle, or you need the Mike backer or you need a safety. You've got to be good up the middle. What Josey brings is his toughness and effort, and he demonstrates by what he does on the field, and it kind of creates a little bit of an attitude for our defense."
ON STANFORD TAPE AGAINST NORTHWESTERN...
"You look at it, we're very similar in defense between us and Northwestern. I don't know what it was. It doesn't look like the same team, so we really don't look at that as much. I think it was the timing maybe when they played. There's a lot of different things. It was the first game, so you look at it and say, yeah, but they're a whole different team, I think, than when they played in the first game of the year."
ON YOUNG GUYS STEPPING UP IN PRACTICE...
"Yeah, I think there are some guys that we do developmental. We've done it for the last 17 years I've been here. Any time we have an opportunity to go out there and develop the young kids. I think there are some younger guys that we're really impressed with. One is Josh Jackson. Even though he's playing, he's really improved moving from a wide receiver to a defensive back and being a big part of our third down package. To see him develop and get better as a player, I'm really excited about him."