4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE IOWA STATE DEFENSE
– The defense finished second in the Big 12 and led the way against the run. With eight starters returning, and six back on the front seven – or front six, considering its normal alignment – this should once again be one nasty group.
– Junior DE JaQuan Bailey is among the league’s best pass rushers, and he’ll get a whole lot of help inside from a terrific veteran tackle duo of Ray Lima and Jamahl Johnson. This group will get into the backfield.
– Leading linebacker Willie Harvey is gone from the linebacking corps, but the tandem of Mike Rose in the middle and Marcel Spears on the outside should combine for at least 150 tackles. It might take a little bit, but the depth has the potential to rise up quickly for a good rotation. There aren’t a slew of stars here, but it’s a solid group of hitters.
– The secondary is loaded at safety. Greg Eisworth led the team with 87 tackles, and the combination of Braxton Lewis and Lawrence White will be on the field in some way. Corner is a different issue with Brian Peavy and D’Andre Payne gone, but Datrone Young and Anthony Johnson are experienced enough to be okay.