Norm Parker is getting closer to returning to work, but Iowa will be without its defensive coordinator again this week.
Parker, who turned 69 on Saturday, has missed the Hawkeyes’ last four games while dealing with diabetes-related complications that resulted in the amputation of his right foot.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday that Parker won’t make the trip this weekend to Michigan. But Ferentz said Parker is doing “a lot better.”
“(He) continues to improve,” Ferentz said. “We’re all really pleased about that, and I think we’re anxious to get him back.”
The Hawkeyes haven’t suffered during Parker’s absence. Iowa leads the nation in scoring defense (10.2 points per game), ranks second in rushing defense (63.2 yards per game) and fourth in total defense (242.2 ypg).
“I think we’re still looking at weeks (before Parker returns),” Ferentz said. “I would guess a minimum of two weeks. It may be quicker, but probably at least that.”
– A BIGGER BIG HOUSE: Iowa hasn’t played at Michigan Stadium since 2006 when 110,923 watched the Wolverines defeat the Hawkeyes 20-6. The Big House has undergone a facelift since then and 113,065 packed the stadium Saturday when Michigan State beat the Wolverines.
A television reporter asked Ferentz on Tuesday about the additional seating.
“I thought it was pretty big the last time we were there,” he said. “How much bigger is it, 3,000 people or something like that? One hundred 10 (thousand) or 113 (thousand) really doesn’t matter. Big is big.”
– GOOD TIMING: The Hawkeyes didn’t schedule their week off, but they couldn’t have picked a better time for it. It enabled them to rest some of their players who have been dealing with injuries and accelerating the growth of their young players.
“You don’t get to choose,” Ferentz said. “But this year, had I chosen, I probably would’ve picked this week. For once, we were lucky.”
– MURRAY IMPROVING: Iowa kicker Daniel Murray has made it back from a muscle injury that put his senior season on hold.
He now hopes to make it back on top of the depth chart, but time is running out with five games already having been played this season and with Murray being a fifth-year senior.
“I’m feeling better,” Murray said Tuesday. “It was a long road. I didn’t kick for about three weeks trying to get back from the injury. It’s been pretty frustrating.”
Murray said he tore a muscle near his hip while attempting a kickoff in practice about a month ago.
He started his rehabilitation by riding a stationary bicycle before slowly starting to kick again.
In his absence, true freshman Michael Meyer moved ahead of sophomore Trent Mossbrucker as Iowa’s No. 1 kicker.
Meyer is expected to handle kickoffs and field goals Saturday against Michigan.
Murray just hopes to make the travel squad and then see what happens.
“I want to travel out there,” said Murray, who attended Regina High School. “I feel like I’m ready to go.”
The coaches will tell Murray on Thursday if he will be traveling with the team.
Murray is by far Iowa’s most experienced kicker after having made 32-of-45 field-goal attempts during his career.
It was Murray’s field goal from 31 yards out in the closing seconds that lifted Iowa past then undefeated Penn State 24-23 in 2008.
He also made 19-of-26 field-goal attempts as a junior last season.
Murray said it’s a matter of him earning the trust of the Iowa coaches again.
“They want to see you go back out there and do it again because they know how you feel after an injury; you’re kind of apprehensive and everything,” Murray said of the Iowa coaches. “They just want to see that you have faith in yourself more than anything.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football