FootballScoop is proud to announce that Phil Parker (Iowa) is the 2021 FootballScoop Defensive Backs Coach of the Year presented by AstroTurf as selected by prior winners.
The ultimate goal of every defense each time it steps on the field is to swipe the ball from its opponent and hand it back to the offense. Iowa's secondary did that more successfully than any in college football.
The Hawkeyes swiped 25 interceptions this season, which led the nation (by four picks) and stands as the most by any FBS team since San Diego State in 2016.
It's also the second time Iowa has led the nation in interceptions under Parker's guidance; the 2017 campaign was the other. In all, Iowa has surrendered 77 touchdowns against 89 interceptions over the past five seasons. (As a point of reference, the median FBS pass defense would've permitted roughly 100 touchdowns against 50 interceptions over that span.)
This season in particular, the Hawkeyes nabbed at least one interception nine times in 14 games. They swiped three or more passes five times, including four in a 23-20 win over No. 4 Penn State and six in a 51-14 blowout of Maryland. The six swipes was the most since setting a school record against Wisconsin in 1982, and set a school record for most players with at least one interception in a single game, as six different Hawkeyes snared those six picks.
Junior Dane Belton led the team with five, senior Riley Moss and sophomore Jermari Harris tied for second with four, senior Matt Hankins contributed three, and senior Jack Koerner added two. In all, 11 separate Hawkeyes picked at least one pass.
Iowa finished sixth nationally in pass efficiency defense, booking a 110.48 opposing passer rating. Rival quarterbacks completed 262-of-468 (56 percent, 14th-worst nationally) for 3,003 yards (6.4 per attempt, 14th) with 16 touchdowns against the aforementioned 25 picks.
On four occasions this season, Iowa limited opponents to less than five yards per attempt. Their magnum opus was the Penn State game, in which starting quarterback Sean Clifford went 15-of-25 for 146 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions, a 93.06 rating. After he was chased by injury, backup Ta'Quan Robinson went 7-of-21 for 34 yards with no touchdowns and two picks, a 27.89 rating. Those picks allowed Iowa to rally from 17-3 deficit to win 23-20.
Parker's defense also recovered six fumbles, finishing third in the nation with 31 takeaways. On the whole, Iowa finished eighth in yards per play (4.74) and 13th in scoring (19.2 points per game).
Moss won the Tatum-Woodson Award as the Big Ten's top defensive back and made the All-Big Ten first team, where he was joined by Belton. Hankins was a Second Team All-Big Ten honoree, while Korner received honorable mention.
Parker has coached the Iowa secondary for the entirety of Kirk Ferentz's 23-year tenure, save for a one-year break in 2012 as Iowa's stand-alone defensive coordinator. The Michigan State graduate recently completed his 10th season running the Iowa defense. He entered coaching as a GA in 1987 before spending the next 11 seasons as the secondary coach at Toledo, where he remained until taking the Iowa job in 1999.
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by AstroTurf are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Jahmile Addae [Georgia], Perry Eliano and Colin Hitschler [Cincinnati], Will Harris [Washington], TJ Rushing [Texas A&M] and Parker) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year's winner.
Previous winners of the Defensive Backs Coach of the Year award are Tim Billings (Wake Forest, 2008), Everett Withers and Troy Douglas (North Carolina, 2009), Chad Glasgow and Clay Jennings (TCU, 2010), Ron Cooper (LSU, 2011), Bill Busch and Kendrick Shaver (Utah State, 2012), Jeremy Pruitt (Florida State, 2013), Dave Wommack and Jason Jones (Ole Miss, 2014), Mike Reed (Clemson, 2015), Charles Clark and Joe Tumpkin (Colorado, 2016), Anthony Campanile (Boston College, 2017), Bryan Brown and Greg Gasparato (Appalachian State, 2018), Mickey Conn and Mike Reed (Clemson, 2019), and Perry Eliano and Colin Hitschler (Cincinnati, 2020).
1st Nationally -- Interceptions
14th Nationally -- Opposing Completion Percentage
6th Nationally -- Pass Efficiency Defense
14th Nationally -- Yards Per Attempt Allowed
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