IU Week Transcript: Phil Parker

Phil Parker spoke with the media on Tuesday. Read what Iowa's defensive backs coach had to say about Miguel Merrick's progress, mental toughness of his players, and much more in this premium transcript.

Q: He's probably kind of a quintessential program guy? He's plugged in and now playing his best football.

Phil Parker: I think Miguel had his best game last week. Obviously he had a lot of tackles, he makes a lot of plays on the ball. It just goes to show that he's a kid who works hard. He always comes in with a smile on his face. He goes 100 miles per hour. He does exactly what you tell him to do and I think he does a good job in our program. It's exactly the kind of kid we want in our program.

Q: Do you remember his as a receiver? Was there a lot of push and pull with the offensive coaches to get him on defense?

Parker: When Joe Philbin was recruiting him, me and Lester both looked at him as a WR/DB, and we saw he had great hands. We thought he was very skilled on that side of the ball. On defense, he was pretty good too. He could have been either or when he came, obviously we think he still has great hands, even though a few balls hit him in the chest and fell, it's hard to live those down. He's got the best hands in the secondary, in my opinion.

Q: He's always been a pretty physical player. Is coverage the second thing to come with that?

Parker: I think what we do with the strong safety, you've got to be a physical player. He's strong, a very muscular guy. We don't put our safeties too much in straight man. We're more of a zone match up team. That probably is one of, if not his best attributes.

Q: He's been a guy who's been a target of a lot of yelling on the sidelines from you over the years. Is the kind of guy you can do that do and he won't shrink, he won't run away?

Parker: Me and him have a great relationship. He expects me to be on him like that. I'm looking for the best from him. I thought there were a few plays on the sideline that he'd come off and say, " I thought this." and I say, "I think you should have done this." He'll finally agree when we get in the film room and he sees it. I think he likes that. They're all accustomed to that. I'm into the game a little bit, and they understand that.

Q: I think that probably builds a deeper connection. They know you're the coach.

Parker: Once the play's over, move on to the next one. Sometimes I've got to express myself a bit more than some of the other guys back there. He's been good, he responds well. I think they all respond well.

Q: He seems mentally tough, that way. A guy you can coach like that and have him respond like that.

Parker: Most of the guys back there have real good mental toughness. After a couple practices, you'd see why they have to have a thick skin. Don't worry about it, let it roll off. You go into the locker room afterwards, you hit them up while they're changing clothes, taking showers, clowning around with them a little bit, they see the other side. It's just a game.

Q: Coach Ferentz says that you guys don't really hide your coaching style in recruiting. You tell them.

Parker: I tell them don't come if you can't take it. It kind of eliminates some of the guys. We're a program that you're not going to be able to baby kids. It's hard to do that. This is a violent, physical football game. It's violent. It's not a contact sport, it's a violent contact sport. Mentally, you've got to be able to take the pressure when it comes up. It doesn't matter what game it is, there's going to be pressure in a game. There's more pressure on the secondary guys. Everybody sees you're a single guy on an island out there. You make a mistake, everybody sees you give up a TD. Nobody in the real world sees someone lose 250,000 dollars in business, they're on the front page, losing money. They just go on with their business. It's a little bit more visual embarrassment sometimes, when you get beat.

Q: Your guys are resilient. They come back the next play, nowhere to hide.

Parker: They expect it. They're looking for me when they come off. They'll come off and know something's going to be said. There are some positi8ve things, they make good plays, they're supposed to make good plays and move on. I always worry about the next play. You've got to have a short memory on what you did, but hopefully you understand what you did, and try to get back. You say, "OK, I know the next time what I need to do on this play."

Q: After those early drops, Miguel started working on catching more balls during warm-ups and things. Was that your idea, his idea, who brought that up?

Parker: He has great hands. He hardly ever drops balls in my drills. I'm sure he worked on it a little bit more. I think after he got teased with it, the rest of the guys on the team, it's a little bit embarrassing when you have a couple hit you right in the hands. A couple of them could have gone for touches.

Q: Did he say anything, the only DB who didn't get one last week.

Parker: He kind of said that, a little bit, at the end in the locker room. He kind of mentioned that. He accepts it. The plays will come, the interceptions will come when you're in the right spot. He's been in the right spot a lot of the times.

Q: Those 14 tackles make up for it, I'm sure.

Parker: Yeah.

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