Parker, Powell deliver 1-2 punch for Hawkeyes
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Jonathan Parker underwent a transformation Saturday.
With his 60-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, the freshman tailback went from being a potential playmaker to a legitimate big-play threat.
"I just took the opening," Parker said after Iowa's 45-29 win over Indiana. "Next thing you know, I saw daylight."
Parker and receiver Damond Powell proved the Hawkeyes can do more than pester a defense with speed.
They can break an opponent's back.
"We were rolling," said Powell, who caught a 72-yard touchdown pass. "We had the bye week last week, so guys were able to get off their feet.
"We were pretty fresh."
Parker hit his low point five weeks ago, fumbling twice against Ball State.
He temporarily slipped out of the game plan, but got a lift from teammates and coach Kirk Ferentz.
"What he said to me was, 'It's football. It happens to the best of us, so keep on working,' " Parker recalled.
The coaches were willing to give Parker another chance, because his quickness adds another dimension to Iowa's sometimes drab offense.
He was used as a decoy at Purdue. Against the Hoosiers, he was given a gaping hole and plenty of room to roam.
"Once I saw the block (by receiver Jacob Hillyer), I knew it was over," Parker said. "It was just a great feeling like, 'I'm here. I made it.' "
It was the longest run and first touchdown of Parker's college career. He's now averaging 10.8 yards per rush, 14 yards per catch and 26 per kick return.
"There was a headline I saw somewhere that suggested we lost faith or are getting faith back in him," Ferentz said. "Just for the record, he had two tough plays in that Ball State game. But I don't think anybody was ever down on Jonathan."