Parker: Defensive Philosophy Won't Change

Norm Parker has seen a lot in his decades as a defensive coach. This year, he might have the best set of linebackers he has ever coached, while at the same time having one of the youngest defensive lines in his tenure. Parker talks about these aspects and more in this interview.

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How do you feel the defensive line will shake out?

Norm Parker: You have Iwebema that played some last year, as did Mattison. Kroul, I think he looks like he will be an outstanding player some day. The trouble is that I will leave someone out here. Willcox played some last year, we made King into a defensive lineman…Ted Bentler…they are all competing.

Last year, the defensive line could pin their ears back and let the linebackers go free. Will that be the case this year?

Norm Parker: We leave those linebackers to overcome their coaching. We are just going to play the same defense. It's all we know. Realistically, you take Roth and Babineaux and Luebke and Robinson, they made a lot of plays and they kept people off the linebackers. Those guys were good players.

Is this the best linebacker corps that you have been around?

Norm Parker: I think these guys have the potential to be as good as I have been around in a while.

You also have an experienced secondary.

Norm Parker: Both corners are back, Paschal, when he gets healthy, that will be three of the four guys back, so we could have that. We will miss Considine. He was a stabilizing factor back there.

Are You feeling better this year?

Norm Parker: I am alright (laughs). Better than last year, that is for damn sure. It feels good being out here to start the season as opposed to being across the street at the hospital.

How good can this team be on defense?

Norm Parker: I don't know, we will find out pretty soon. I think we will be improving all year as the linemen mature. We will see.

Do you sense a hunger from the young linemen?

Norm Parker: Yeah. The whole team has really worked hard. Getting these guys to work, that stuff is no problem at all.

What about Mike Follett?

Norm Parker: I told you I would leave somebody out. I think he has a chance to be a defensive end. I always liked Follett. I think he is a big guy, he can run, he is athletic. He is going to play a lot. We just tell him to get down in a real low linebacker stance and fall forward a little bit. He will be fine. A football player is a football player.

What about Matt Kroul?

Norm Parker: I think someday he will be outstanding. He has done a great job. He is probably as good as we have at the inside position. He has never played a snap, but he is as hard a working guy as you will ever be around.

Is he going to play?

Norm Parker: Oh yeah. I would think he will be a starter; I would be surprised if he is not.

How do you do it each year stopping the run with all the new names but you still get the same results?

Norm Parker: We start out with an emphasis on stopping the run. You cannot play defense if you cannot stop the run. That is the basis of where we start from. We are not technically what you call gap control. A lot of teams are We do a lot of two gapping. It is a sort of thing of the past. We don't run from blocks like a lot teams do, just to keep an arm free.

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