New Iowa football assistants Reid and Kennedy speak for first time

BY BEN ROSS | APRIL 04, 2013 5:00 AM

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Coming off a season in which the Hawkeyes went 4-8, the Iowa football team made some changes in its philosophy for the upcoming year. The most noticeable, perhaps, will come in the form of a revamped staff, as Iowa hired a few new coaches to replace those who left during the off-season.

One of the new faces is Jim Reid, who will help LeVar Woods in coaching Iowa’s strong linebacker unit. Reid was the defensive coordinator and associate head coach at the University of Virginia for three seasons before coming to Iowa.

Reid will be tasked with helping a defensive unit that had all kinds of trouble getting off the field last year. It’s a group that rarely made big plays and suffered from breakdowns in coverage all year long. Reid said he thinks the success the Hawkeyes may have on the defensive side on the ball this upcoming season rests on the play of defensive line.

“It all starts up front, and that’s what a lot of people say, and I agree with that,” Reid said. “So it all starts up front on offense and defense. And then the linebackers are the heart. They tie in the front and they tie in the secondary.”

Bobby Kennedy, who coached wide receivers at Colorado for the past two seasons, is another profile new to Hawkeye fans this year. Kennedy also served on the same staff at Texas while Iowa offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Greg Davis held those  positions for the Longhorns.

Kennedy will try to improve a unit that was a gaping weakness for the offense last year — Iowa’s wide receivers accounted for just under 1,400 yards on offense and 4 touchdowns while quarterback James Vandenberg struggled throughout his entire senior campaign. Kennedy speculated that Iowa’s wideouts were a little embarrassed from their performances from last season, which is good, because given the numbers above, they should be.

“To me, when I walked in this place, I understand that it’s a football place, and I think anytime that you go 4-8 and you don’t go to a bowl game, I think there is some embarrassment,” Kennedy said. “They might not say it, but their actions in terms of doing extra things, working; they want this thing to turn around.”

Still, how Iowa’s pass catchers perform will most likely be indicative of the play of Iowa’s quarterback this year. The Black and Gold may not have settled on a signal caller to replace the departed Vandenberg quite yet, but sophomore Jake Rudock is many people’s favorite candidate; he occupied the No. 2 spot on the depth chart last season, though he did not take a single snap.

Rudock should feel pressure from other quarterbacks in C.J. Beathard and Cody Sokol during training — he said all three have been getting the same amount of reps over the past week or so of practice — which should make for a tight competition. Some teammates said a front-runner to the position hasn’t quite established himself yet.

“We have to trust the coaches to do what’s right in determining the No. 1 quarterback,” offensive tackle Brett Van Sloten said. “We’ll block for whoever it is.”

Because Rudock sits at the top for quarterback in the spring-practice depth chart, it may seem like his job to lose. But he said that’s not the case, because Sokol and Beathard have worked under Davis for the same amount of time as Rudock. Looking at what he said, it appears as though he may hold some advantages over those with whom he is competing.

“[The quarterback competition] is pretty even; we’ve all had coach Davis for one spring now,” Rudock said. “[Being the backup in 2012] helps. You get to experience a little more, and you might get to talk to [Vandenberg]; you’re one play away, and you might get thrown in at any given play. You have to prepare like you’re the starter.

“It’s my position to win. All of us are looking at it that way.”

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