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When the University of Iowa football team reconvened for its first meeting after winter workouts, senior defensive back Micah Hyde wondered, "Where is everyone?" It was at that point he understood what the previous senior classes had told him.
"Talking to the seniors from the last couple of years, they come to that first team meeting after we get back from the bowl game and winter break and they're like 'wow, where is everybody,'" says Hyde. "I definitely had that feeling...I am the old guy on the block now.
"It's weird, but it's good because I get to show my leadership and show the guys how it is done."
Hyde will be counted on to lead the Iowa defense, as he is one of two senior starters returning along with defensive lineman Steve Bigach. Even though youth fills the Hawkeye two-deeps, particularly among the front four, Hyde says the track record is there for the unit.
"With Iowa football you have the foundation," Hyde says. "They (the coaches) are going to put people in who can make plays. If it is the secondary that is making plays at any given moment that is good, but the linebackers and defensive line are definitely going to step up. As a whole our defense will pick it up, and we'll be fine."
Hyde says the defense has made subtle changes to its scheme, which is a move that excites the defensive backs.
"We have changed it up a little bit and are more in receivers' faces on any given play," he says. "It's fun to have a lot more press coverage and as a defensive back you want that, you want to compete."
Hyde says it has been a smooth transition with the shuffling of duties on the coaching staff. Phil Parker was elevated to defensive coordinator, Reese Morgan shifted from offensive to defensive line, Darrell Wilson from linebackers to defensive backs, and LeVar Woods was hired as linebackers coach.
"For us it has basically been the same coaches," Hyde says. "They are the same coaches that have been around this program for a while, just switching positions. It's a change in a meeting room, but it's not really different on the field.
"We're still running the same foundation of our defense. It's easier because they've been around and know what to do."
The addition of Woods as the position coach for the linebackers excites junior James Morris, as he'll get the opportunity to learn from a former Hawkeye and seven-year NFL player.
"I learned many things from coach Wilson, but different coaches bring different styles and knowledge," Morris says. “Being exposed to new people and new ideas can help take your game to the next level."
Morris is focusing on consistency in order to take his game up a notch.
"It's no coincidence that the best players are the ones making the big plays because they're in the position to make those plays more often than the other guys,” he says. “That's what I am trying to get, to make sure I am in position to make a play more often."