4. College Football News Preview 2020: Iowa State Cyclones Defense 3 Things To Know
– The defense gave up over 300 points for the first time since 2016, however, it was more than fine. It finished third in the Big 12 in scoring defense, fifth overall, and was able to hold up well against the run.
The defensive line loses its stars on the inside with Ray Lima and Jamahi Johnson done, but the pass rushers are in place on the outside with a good rotation of ends around star JaQuan Bailey, who was knocked out early last year with an ankle injury. He has 113 career tackles with 18.5 sacks and 31.5 tackles for loss, and now he’s all back full. But he’s not alone.
Sophomore Will McDonald was second on the team with six sacks, and 262-pound junior Zach Petersen and 285-pound senior Enyi Uwazurike bring the size. It’ll take a bit to get the right tackle rotation going. There isn’t the big 300-pound space-eater, but there’s a little bit of experience returning.
– The linebacking corps has the potential to be a killer. Leading tackler Marcel Spears is done, but the trio of Mike Rose, O’Rien Vance, and Jake Hummel will get all over the field and will make a whole lot of plays. Rose and Vance combined for ten sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. The depth has to be developed, but the starting three will crank up the stats.
– The Cyclones gave up 230 passing yards per game – that’s the cost of doing business in the Big 12. However, picking off just six passes is a big problem – more on that in later in the Keys To The Season.
Four of the top five defensive backs return, starting with all-star Greg Eisworth at one safety spot to lead the way. With Eisworth combined with Lawrence White, the safeties are terrific, and corners Anthony Johnson, Tayvonn Kyle and Datrone Young are veterans who can tackle. Now they have to come up with more big plays.