May 31, 2011

MIH: #10 James Morris

While every Iowa player is important to the overall team, some are more indispensable than others. HawkeyeReport.com takes a look at the Ten Most Indispensable Hawkeyes (MIH) for the 2011 season. Coming in at #10 on our list this year is middle linebacker James Morris, who stepped into the lineup for the final six games of the 2010 at one of the toughest positions on the field.

James Morris
YEAR: Sophomore
MEASUREMENTS: 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds
Position: MLB
THE NUMBERS: Started the final six games of the 2010 season at middle linebacker and finished the year with 70 tackles, 2.5 for loss (including one sack). He also had four pass breakup's in coverage.

WHY MORRIS MADE THE LIST:

Let's face it; Morris probably got thrown to the wolves a bit last year due to injuries at middle linebacker. He started the season as the third string middle linebacker and was also a key player on many of Iowa's special teams. Then the injury bug hit the middle linebacker position hard. Jeff Tarpinian was in and out of the lineup, first with a broken hand and then with a pretty serious nagging stinger issues that bothered him most of the second half of the year. Tarpinian's backup, Bruce Davis, tore his ACL against Arizona.

Those injuries led Morris to his first start against Michigan State and the Hawkeyes never looked back. Most Iowa fans expected great things from Morris, but not many expected them so soon in his career, figuring that this fall would be the time where he pushed for a starting spot.

There were times when Morris probably felt like he was swimming upstream a bit in the first couple of games, but he settled in rather quickly and played like a veteran out there, especially later in the year. Morris is pretty natural when it comes to stopping the run with very good instincts. His biggest challenge will be to improve in pass coverage in his sophomore season. While the instincts were good in this area, he was just a step or two off a few times when he might have gathered in an interception. Those type of things come with time and experience and he will continue to get that moving forward.

Morris would probably be higher on this list of the ten most indispensable Hawkeyes for 2011 if not for the presence this year of Bruce Davis, who is back from the ACL injury. Davis could start for a lot of teams in the country, but given what Morris did last year, he is a lock to retain his starting spot this year.


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