4. Iowa State Cyclones College Football Preview 2021: Defense
– 12 of the top 15 tacklers are back from a defense that led the Big 12 against the run and finished second allowing 240 yards and 21 points per game. The super-senior year is helping get back several All-Big 12 stars, but this has been building over the last few years, and now the Cyclones have a killer D that should be even stronger.
– Mike Rose might not have been the best linebacker in college football last season, but he wasn’t far off. The team leader with 96 stops is back along with running mates Jake Hummel and O’Rien Vance to a big, deep linebacking corps that should be among the nation’s strongest.
The D line might not do a ton to get behind the line, and it loses JaQuan Bailey off one end, but it’s good enough thanks to Will McDonald, who came up with 10.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. There needs to be more depth at tackle, but it’s a big group around 6-6, 310-pound Eyioma Uwarzurike.
– The secondary allowed 237 yards per game, but it held its own more often than not, it can hit, and there are plenty of veteran playmakers back. Greg Eisworth is a terrific safety who’s been a key part of the puzzle for the last three seasons, and Isheem Young is a rising playmaker who made 50 stops, but the corners have to come up with more picks.