Michigan football Jim Harbaugh discusses why Iowa is so good

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Iowa may not be much to see, but it never is. And it’s usually a winning team, capable of beating the big dogs in college football if they’re not on their Ps and Qs.

The Hawkeyes have struggled from the start, losing to rival Iowa State in Week 2 after beating South Dakota State in Week 1, 7-3. That first game of the season also wasn’t the product of the offense scoring a touchdown. The defense scored two safeties while the special teams added a field goal.

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Defensive prowess is where Iowa comes into play. Rutgers had 300 passing yards last week, but Hawkeye’s offense, which managed only 277 yards, didn’t need to do much, thanks to forcing turnovers and scoring two defensive touchdowns.

Naturally, Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh is on high alert for what the Wolverines will face on Saturday when the team travels to Iowa City for the first road game of the season.

“It really goes back to the early ’80s, with Norm Parker, coach at Michigan State, defensive coordinator, his defensive coordinator for about 30 years. That’s where this defense comes from,” Harbaugh said. “And he went on to train a defensive back named Phil Parker, at Michigan State. And then in 1999, Kirk Ferentz went to Iowa, hired Norm Parker as defensive coordinator and Phil Parker as secondary coach. That system has been in place since 1999. Phil Parker was the secondary coach there for 13 years and then took over as defensive coordinator.

“And it’s been, ever since, it’s a system. It’s a way of playing, it’s the Parker way. And it’s very good. Everybody knows what to do. Everybody is playing with the right leverage, the right technique, the right fundamentals at all times. opportunist. The challenges it presents is that if you’re not precise with the shot (wasted, undershot, spiked ball), it’s very likely to result in a turnover. If you’re not as solid as you can be, then you’re in for a tough one.

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“But it’s a flawless scheme, everybody where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there, touching the techniques, they’re supposed to be there. So the challenge is that it makes you very tight on offense. This is not the time to relax. It’s time to reinforce every aspect of our offensive technique and fundamentals, lineups and assignments. So yeah, it’s been, it’s been 48 hours of looking at that and looking at it in every possible way that we can improve ourselves.”

Not only will the Hawkeyes be difficult to deal with, but also the environment.

In 2016, Michigan football went to Iowa City ranked #3 in the country. After jumping out to a 10-0 lead, Hawkeye’s defense clamped down and unranked Iowa ended up winning by way of DNF, 14-13. The Wolverines haven’t won at Iowa City since 2005, but they’re hoping this Week 5 contest will be similar to last year’s first road trip in Wisconsin when Michigan snapped a similar drought.

“Like they say, it’s where the top five teams go to die,” Harbaugh said. “I think the most important thing is how good the team is. You turn on the offensive tape and yes, it’s a Kirk Ferentz-coached offense. I mean, it’s all detailed, it’s all precise, the same fundamentals, and they get so good at what they do that they out-execute you. It’s a wide area, it’s a narrow area. It’s play-action out of boots and nudity. They simply outperform you in fundamentals, outperform you in technique and pretend to outperform you in execution.

“So the same. You can’t miss covers, you have to be in the right technique, you have to be in the right space. You have to be just as good, you have to match that execution. And that great atmosphere they have at Kinnick Stadium. But I think it is more the team that is on the field. And they produce one that is really good every year.”

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Last year, when Michigan faced Iowa in the Big Ten Championship game, the Wolverines put up 42 offensive points while limiting the Hawkeyes to just three. However, this is a very different Michigan team than the one that went to the college football playoff, flying high after beating Ohio State the week before heading to Indianapolis.

Michigan QB JJ McCarthy throws a pass against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the 2021 Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis. Photo: Isaiah Hole

The Corn and Blue have a new starting quarterback in JJ McCarthy, although he played against Iowa a year ago at guard. Harbaugh says he’s pleased his team was able to walk away with a 34-27 win over Maryland in Week 4, but there are a lot of corrections the Wolverines need to make if they want to get out of the house of horrors that is Kinnick. unscathed.

“We’ll see. It’s good that we won the game (last week). But there’s a lot of things to train from our last game,” Harbaugh said. “So, we’ll see how our players respond to that training and we’ll see how, all areas that we can improve, even fix. How well we do. I’ll get a better idea of ​​that as the week goes on. I predict we can, the fixable stuff just requires taking the training and sticking with it, then practicing it, and then being able to, once you’ve practiced, to be able to do that on game day. And then the game day environment in a hostile stadium, a loud stadium and all those things will take some work.

“If you want to get better at something, just work a little harder at it. And there are definitely things we need to focus on this week.”

Michigan and Iowa will kick off at noon EDT at Kinnick Stadium. The game will be broadcast nationally on Fox.

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