April 3, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Focus is the key to improving and winning football games in the fall, and first-year University of Iowa linebackers coach Jim Reid says the Hawkeyes are displaying that quality this spring.
"There's a focus here that doesn't guarantee success, but if you don't have the focus that we have right now, then you can't have success," Reid said during a Wednesday news conference inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex. "Without the focus, there is no chance. This is a great, focused group -- the linebackers and the entire team."
Reid, who spent the past three seasons as associate head coach/defensive coordinator at the University of Virginia, will work alongside second-year assistant LeVar Woods in coaching the linebacker unit in 2013. Reid is coaching the inside linebackers, while Woods is focusing on the outside.
Woods gave Reid a detailed run-down of the returning players upon his arrival in Iowa City. The returnees include a group of three senior starters in James Morris (MLB), Christian Kirksey (OLB) and Anthony Hitchens (WLB).
"There's a focus here that doesn't guarantee success, but if you don't have the focus that we have right now, then you can't have success. Without the focus, there is no chance. This is a great, focused group -- the linebackers and the entire team."
Jim Reid, first-year linebackers coach
The trio finished 1-2-3 on the team in tackles in 2012. Hitchens made 124 stops (56 unassisted), Morris had 113 tackles with nine tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, while Kirksey tallied 95 stops to go along with two sacks, two interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
With so much experience turning, Reid says not a lot will change, unless it's warranted.
"I was able to get (educated) on each and every one of them by coach Woods," said Reid. "You bring certain techniques with you within the structure of the defense, so we're not going to change much unless it calls for it.
"The guys use their hands and read very well. We're trying to get better and more consistent on every snap."
Reid came to Iowa City with a certain perception of the Iowa program, and it has lived up to its billing.
"Iowa football was a hard-nosed, tough, run the football, throw play-action pass, and play good, stout defense," said Reid. "There are solid technicians, great coaching, technique, detail, win the game in the fourth quarter, because you know and the players know what they're doing because of the consistency."
Reid points to 15th-year UI head coach Kirk Ferentz as the face behind that consistency.
"He is consistent with every phase of the program: academics, weight lifting, conditioning, individuals, what we're looking for, group period, when two positions get together, and teamwork," said Reid. "If you listen to him, he comes out there and describes exactly what tempo that we're going at. Everybody knows what is expected of them."
With three first-year assistant coaches on the staff (Bobby Kennedy/wide receivers; Chris White/running backs), Reid says there is a high energy in the program with the underlying excitement revolving around teaching, developing and improving.
"We all love our players and we're all trying to develop them and make them as good as we can in every phase of their life, and that follows the message every morning that we hear in the staff room," said Reid. "Development as a man, student, player, and the great thing is, there's a hunger for that from the players' standpoint.
"They want to please (us) because they know that's the only way that you can win, to get everyone on the same page. From a standpoint of trying to learn the system and getting along with everyone, there has been nothing but great pleasure.
"I can hardly wait to get into meetings with them and into practice with the players. It's high energy, and let's go."