IOWA CITY, Ia. — Timidity will not be tolerated among Iowa’s linebackers.
When defensive assistant Jim Reid joined the Hawkeyes’ football staff in February, he made tenacity a priority.
“For me, something he’s emphasized is us letting it rip,” senior linebacker James Morris said. “And understanding we’re good players and we have what it takes to win.
“I need to take more shots or play a little faster, more aggressive.”
Reid brings more than 30 years of coaching experience to Iowa, but it was uncertain where he would channel his considerable energies.
When Reid met the media last week, linebackers were the focus.
“Right now, I’ve got the two inside linebackers and it’s been great,” Reid said. “Those are great guys. They work hard.”
Morris, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound native of Solon, started 11 games at middle linebacker last season, recording 113 tackles.
The Hawkeyes also boast weak-side linebacker Anthony Hitchens (124 tackles) and outside linebacker Christian Kirksey (95).
“The guys use their hands very well, they read very well,” Reid said. “We’re just trying to get better and more consistent on every snap.”
Morris, Hitchens and Kirksey will be the mainstays for a defense that features eight returning starters.
Reid, meanwhile, offers a fresh perspective.
“I think his approach is maybe a little bit different in that he’s been a head coach in the past,” Morris said. “It’s not so much that he’s not familiar with the Iowa way, but he brings a little bit of everything, just from where he’s been.”
Reid’s resume includes head-coaching stints at Virginia Military Institute (2006-07), Massachusetts (1986-91) and Richmond (1995-2003).
He spent the past three seasons as defensive coordinator for Virginia.
“My perception of Iowa football was this: hard-nosed, tough, run the football, throw the play-action pass and play good, stout defense,” Reid said.
The Hawkeyes toughness next fall may hinge on the front four.
Morris praised the progress of tackle Carl Davis and end Mike Hardy. Both are juniors who made a limited impact in 2012.
“It’s not like our guys up front are a bunch of slops,” Morris said. “They’re coming along, they’re improving.
“And if they can set the tempo, that’s great. We’ll take it.”
Morris tried to ease some of the burden on Iowa’s defensive line.
“You don’t want to be weak in any area,” he said. “So, if we’re really good up front, but we stink in the back end … That’s bad, too.”
Morris also talked about the need to boost his performance.
“Everything is up for discussion right now,” he said. “It’s not like I’m against certain areas of improvement. Anything I can do to get better, I’m doing it right now.”
The primary source of motivation is last year’s 4-8 finish.
“It’s different in that we’re coming off a season we’re not really proud of,” Morris said. “We want to do something about that, and this is really the first chance we’ve had to do anything.”
So far, Reid is liking what he sees.
“I’m just telling you this is a great, focused group,” he said. “I’m talking about the entire team.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football