April 1, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Picasso and football. They are one in the same for University of Iowa linebackers coach Jim Reid.
Reid, who is entering his third season coaching Hawkeye linebackers, has collected many clips of art in his 37-year coaching career in the college and professional ranks.
“There are plays that I’ll run back and forth and what I see is art,” Reid said at a Wednesday news conference in the All-American Room at the Hansen Football Performance Center. “I know that sounds crazy, but what I see, it slows down. I see great skill, talent, and artwork.
“I tell that to my players all the time. I say, to me, this is not a great play, this is a great piece of art.”
“We all believe we’re heading in the right direction with this crowd and it’s a fun crowd to coach because they are into it big time. I know coach Parker feels good about it, and if he feels good about anything, you know you’re going in the right direction.”
UI linebackers coach Jim Reid
The Hawkeyes’ latest group of potential artists at the linebacker position includes a trio of sophomores — Ben Niemann, Josey Jewell, and Bo Bower — who are atop the spring depth chart. Three seniors — Cole Fisher, Travis Perry, and Cole Fisher — and redshirt freshman Aaron Mends listed among the second unit.
“We have a neat combination of some experienced players that know what’s going on, some young, eager players that have played already, and some guys like Aaron Mends,” said Reid.
“We are just starting to scratch the surfaces of freshmen who we’ll be talking about in this room a year from now.”
Reid says the goal of the spring is to make the linebacker positions fluid. Jewell is sliding from the Will linebacker position inside, while Bower is moving from the outside to the Will. Niemann is the No. 1 on the outside after being a special teams’ player as a true freshman.
“Ben fits the definition of Iowa football and being a linebacker,” said Reid. “He’s fast, athletic, tough, and can think on his feet. He has instincts to the ball and has a great opportunity to get up there and show what he can do right from the get go.”
Reid says the Hawkeyes are striving for consistency in 2015. Two years ago, the two inside linebackers (James Morris and Anthony Hitchens) had 30.5 tackles for loss. Last season that number dipped to 18 with Quinton Alston and Bo Bower in the lineup.
“(Two years ago) that total wasn’t because of coach (defensive coordinator Phil) Parker was calling a lot of blitzes or pressures,” said Reid. “It was because of good reads, fast movement, and experience.
“Although we lose a guy like (Quinton) Alston, who ran the defense beautifully, we have a nice consistency of heady players who are aggressive up the field and are athletic enough to bring us back to that number we had in 2013.
“We are going to be physical and we have to make more plays. I think we have the guys to do it.”
Reid says it’s not all physical talent that produce tackles for losses or sacks. It’s anticipation, reading the line of scrimmage, seeing splits, and knowing the formation and down and distance. He likes the Hawkeyes’ makeup in 2015.
“We all believe we’re heading in the right direction with this crowd and it’s a fun crowd to coach because they are into it big time,” said Reid. “I know coach Parker feels good about it, and if he feels good about anything, you know you’re going in the right direction.”