July 2, 2013
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Seniors are expected to be the backbone of the University of Iowa football team each fall. In 2013, the Hawkeyes’ senior linebacking corps of James Morris, Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens is ready to do its part.
“Coach (Kirk) Ferentz says it all the time, you need your seniors to be playing their best football,” said Hitchens. “Our seniors need to play their best football and compete so the young guys can look up and compete with us to move the team forward.”
The Hawkeyes have been participating in voluntary summer workouts to prepare for the fall camp in August. Players report Aug. 4 and begin practice a day later.
“We’ve been working hard in summer training and conditioning to get ready to go into camp,” said Kirksey, who had 95 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions as a junior. “When you look around and see teammates going hard every day, and the different talents we have on this team, it gives you a good feeling about the season.”
“Our backs are against the road. We’re going to take that and see what we’re made of and what type of team we are. It’s exciting for me because you always want to have a turnaround and come out of nowhere and blow people away. It’s a good feeling when you do that, and that’s what we’re looking forward to doing.”
UI senior Christian Kirksey
Morris says last season’s 4-8 record leaves a bad taste in the team’s mouth, and he is optimistic about moving forward.
“We’re young and have more depth and talent at some positions than we have in the past, and that’s top to bottom,” said Morris, who was second on the team with 113 tackles, including nine for loss. “We’re hungry. It’s easy to sit here and say that when we’re not playing, and we don’t have a record on paper, but the general sense is people have something to prove and everybody is tired of hearing about last year at this point.
“We want to go out and show that we can be better than that, and that’s what we’re hoping to be in the fall.”
Kirksey uses the snubs as motivation since college football “experts” are giving Iowa little respect for the 2013 season.
“Our backs are against the road,” he said. “We’re going to take that and see what we’re made of and what type of team we are. It’s exciting for me because you always want to have a turnaround and come out of nowhere and blow people away. It’s a good feeling when you do that, and that’s what we’re looking forward to doing.”
Hitchens says the team is taking ownership of last season’s struggles and working hard to ensure that the same results don’t follow this season.
“We’re trying a lot of different things because what we did last year didn’t work,” said Hitchens, who led the team with 124 tackles in his first season as a starter. “We are going to take ownership with that. We’re showing up, working hard, and doing what’s necessary to get over that hump. Coach Ferentz and coach (Chris) Doyle have a great plan for us so far.”
The Hawkeyes open the season Aug. 31, hosting Northern Illinois at 2:30 p.m. (CT) inside Kinnick Stadium.