White introduced as new Iowa football special teams coach

BY BEN ROSS | APRIL 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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With less than a month until the open spring practice, the Iowa football team is getting into the thick of its preseason training regimen. Players are beginning to rotate into new positions, and all of Iowa’s new coaching hirings have arrived on campus, ready to make a mark on a program that went 4-8 with a laughable Big Ten schedule just a year ago.

One of the new coaching hirings is Chris White, He spent the last four years working with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, serving as the special-teams coach, where he oversaw Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh break numerous records for a rookie at the position and earn All-Pro honors. White will be charged with handling Iowa’s  special-teams unit this year, as well as coaching the running backs, filling in for the departed Lester Erb.

Minnesota commanded a respected special-teams unit last season, which is something White said he hopes to bring to the Iowa football program. White said he didn’t care about the rankings of a unit, though, but rather, results and starting position.

“That’s all I care about. I’m not a stat guy at all.  I could care less where we rank in terms of in the Big Ten,” White said. “I want to know where the defense gets the ball, all right, where’s their starting position.  I want to know where our offense starts the drive.  It’s all what we call complementary football, and that’s all the job is with special teams is to complement your offense and defense.”

Perhaps the most positive note returning from Iowa’s special teams last year is its kicker in Mike Meyer, who went 14-of-20 in field-goal attempts in 2012. Meyer said that he’s looking forward to working with a man who oversaw the success of Walsh last year and noted that he’s been fortunate to have some strong individuals in his life that have influenced his kicking.

“I’ve been pretty fortunate since I’ve been here, I started working out with [former Iowa kicker and current NFL player Nate Kaeding] and he’s been helping me a lot, and Coach White, who worked with Blair Walsh, I couldn’t really ask for anything more,” Meyer said.

Woods leads linebackers

While special teams were seen as a weakness in 2012 for the Iowa football team, the Hawkeyes linebacking corps was viewed as perhaps the lone strength the squad. The Black and Gold have the luxury of returning all three starting linebackers in Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey taking the outside spots, with James Morris occupying the middle.

LeVar Woods will help another new hiring in Jim Reid to coach the backing corps, which is poised to make its mark in 2013. In addition to the three linebackers that filled in most of the time last season, Woods lauded a deep position group that features other players who had playing time last season as well. While it’s hard to deny that Iowa’s linebacking efforts feature a rather particular set of skills, Woods said the aforementioned experience might be the best asset for his position group.

“First and foremost, the guys have experience,” Woods said. “But the thing that’s exciting … the three guys all played together last year, so there’s a great chemistry amongst those guys.

“It’s been said the linebackers are the heart of the defense. They pump the blood into everybody. They make all the calls, get everyone lined up, and that’s something that’s held true around here at Iowa and around defense in general.

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