Notebook: Morgan adjusts to position change

BY SAM LOUWAGIE | APRIL 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa defensive line doesn't have much experience.

Four now-departed seniors took significant snaps last season, leaving the Hawkeyes with a line that features three spring starters less than 20 years old. Head coach Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday the defensive line is among the units with "the most work to do in terms of our lack of experience."

That's the challenge for Reese Morgan, who is new to the position himself.

Morgan coached Iowa's offensive line for the past nine seasons. Ferentz asked his veteran assistant to switch to defense during the reshuffling of the team's coaching staff this winter.

"How did he sell it to me? He just asked me if I'd be interested in doing it," Morgan said. "I said sure. I think he knew the answer before he asked."

So Morgan has spent the spring learning to coach a new position. He has asked former Hawkeyes for advice when they have returned to the team's facilities to work out. He has consulted retired defensive coordinator Norm Parker.

He' has also tried to use his extensive knowledge of blocking schemes and techniques to benefit the team's defensive lineman.

"You'd be surprised how many similarities there are," Morgan said about coaching the two lines. "The leverage, pad level, footwork. We can tell the guy, 'Hey, this is what this [blocker] is trying to do.' "

Senior defensive tackle Steve Bigach called Morgan — who won three state high-school championships at Iowa City West in the 1990s — "a great teacher." Ferentz said that quality is why he feels comfortable with the switch.

"You look at the depth and broadness of Reese's résumé, starting with what he did as a high-school coach," Ferentz said. "You're talking about teaching in its purest form. If you're not a good teacher, you're not going to be a good high-school coach. Reese demonstrated that. He's done that with every opportunity he's had."

Morgan said coaching a new position has been a fun experience.

"It has been energizing, rejuvenating, fun, and challenging," he said. "I'm not sleeping much at night. I keep thinking about fundamentals. Other than my wife not getting a lot of sleep, it's been pretty good."

Canzeri undergoes ACL surgery

Kirk Ferentz announced that sophomore running back Jordan Canzeri would undergo surgery to repair his torn ACL on Wednesday afternoon. Ferentz said a usual timeline for recovery is five to six months until a player is medically cleared and can begin regaining his strength and conditioning.

That's a huge improvement from the past, he said.

"With my recollection in the 1980s, it wasn't a sure thing … it seemed like a lot of guys didn't come back the way they left," he said. "The one thing that has chanced, I think with the advances made in medical procedure, typically guys come back stronger now."

Canzeri injured his knee in a non-contact drill during practice on March 29.

"Most of these injuries tend to be non-contact," Ferentz said. "It's just one of those things where there's not much you can do about it. It's part of football, unfortunately."

A Ferentz family reunion

Senior center James Ferentz is being coached by his older brother, new Hawkeye offensive line coach Brian Ferentz, for the first time.

James Ferentz said it has gone well, and said the team has responded well to Brian Ferentz's youthful energy and NFL qualifications — he came back to Iowa City from the New England Patriots, where he most recently coached the tight ends.

But he did admit his big brother tends to be a little tough on him.

"He's a little quicker to point out my mistakes," James Ferentz said. "But a good coach will usually do that, so I'm thankful. I'm learning pretty quick not to talk back to him."

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