August 14, 2012
Coordinators move upstairs
There's been plenty of talk about Iowa's two new coordinators and the style of play that Phil Parker and Greg Davis will bring to the Hawkeyes offense and defense in 2012. One of the changes that probably won't get as much attention as what happens on the field is both Davis and Parker will be calling the game from the press box rather than being on the sidelines.
That will be a departure from what Iowa Football has done for basically the entire tenure of Kirk Ferentz. Former offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe always preferred being on the sidelines so he could talk to his quarterbacks and offensive players face to face to get feedback on what opponents were doing defensively. Norm Parker was also a sidelines guy until his health issues forced him upstairs in the final few years.
Davis, who was a long time offensive coordinator at Texas before coming to Iowa, has always been a coordinator who likes the view from above.
"I like to work in the box," Davis said. "I've always felt that I get a better view of the field up there and I can see what defenses are doing more clearly."
This spring, Davis worked a couple of practices from the press box as sort of a dry run and felt it went pretty well. He says he will be up there again for a few practices this fall before the start of the season so everyone will be comfortable with communication process.
"All of our assistants will be on headsets and I will send the play in and then we will have several guys signal in the play, with only one of them being live," he said. "It's really a pretty simple process."
Davis says that his process is really pretty simple. He always has the next play in his mind depending on the outcome of the play that was just run. He feels that being timely in getting plays signaled in and getting out of the huddle will not be a problem.
"You always have the next play in mind before you even run a play. So if you get zero yards on one play, then you go with this play. If you end up on 3rd and short, you go in this direction," he said. "I think I've always got the plays out pretty quickly and our goal is to be at the line of scrimmage around 18 seconds left on the play clock to give us the opportunity to change the play at the line of scrimmage."
Perhaps the player most impacted by Davis being up in the press box is senior quarterback James Vandenberg, who has had his offensive coordinator on the sidelines for his entire career. He says there will be an adjustment needed, but he feels good about it so far.
"We did work on it once or twice during the spring and to be honest it wasn't all that much different. You still hear the same voice. It will be a little different, but I think I will get used to it," he said.
While Vandenberg liked giving face to face feedback to his coordinator, talking over the headset isn't much different and he feels like there will be a benefit to having Coach Davis in the press box.
"He is probably going to be able to see more of the field up there, so I think it will actually help us in the long run. When you are up there you see things better and you can figure out what they are doing defensively," Vandenberg said.
For Phil Parker, he has been in the box and on the sidelines at various points in his long coaching career.
"I have been at this for over 25 years as a coach," Parker said. "When I was at Toledo, I was up in the box. When I came here, I was up in the box initially and then I moved down to the field. I think I will feel comfortable up in the box, but if I don't then we can change it, but that's where I will start out at this season."
Parker said he worked a couple of scrimmages this spring from the press box and feels there will be an adjustment period, but he has faith in his assistants, who will be in contact with him from the sidelines.
"It will be a little bit of an adjustment because I will be away from the players and I like getting their feedback, but we have very good coaches on the sidelines that can do that."
Like Davis, he feels that a coach gets a better view of the action from being in the press box and you can make adjustments more quickly to what an offense is doing.
"I think you get the big picture more clearly from upstairs," Parker said. "I also think you kind of get away from the emotion of the game that occurs on the sidelines and that helps a coordinator stay focused on the field and what an offense is doing."
Parker's process will be very similar to what Davis has in mind in terms of signaling in plays, but likely a bit less complex. Instead of having multiple players signaling in plays, Parker will be on the headset with his defensive assistants and linebackers coach LeVar Woods will signal in the play to the middle linebacker, who will then communicate the call to the rest of the defense.
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