It’s (almost) July, meaning that we’re getting close to the start of Iowa State’s football season. Let’s break the team down unit-by-unit, and we’ll start with the defensive line.
If the defense is going to improve at all from it’s 106th overall ranking last season, it’s got to start at the defensive line. It won’t be easy.
D-Line coach Curtis Bray passed away unexpectedly at the young age of 43. Three starters will have to be replaced. Two key names heading into the season — Rodney Coe and David Irving — were dismissed from the team. One of them was dismissed because he participated in the hijacking of a stop sign.
Players to watch: Defensive end Cory Morrissey and defensive tackle Brandon Jensen. It might be a saving grace that Jensen has returned to the football team. A text from head coach Paul Rhoads pulled him back in, but he was more than willing to walk away from the team. Will those thoughts of being tired about playing the game affect his production on the field?
Let’s hope not. He will join Morrissey, who is the de facto leader of the group and returns from a junior season that saw 52 total tackles (sixth on the team), 6.5 of those for a loss, two sacks, and one forced fumble.
“Newcomer” to watch: This section will generally focus on players that haven’t played yet, but it might be stretched now and again. Defensive end Darius White played in last season’s game against Kansas State and picked up a fumble. Mitchell Meyers currently holds a starting position over him in the depth chart and looked great in the spring game, but I’d like to see what more White can bring to the table.
White is a Florida prospect who recorded over 200 tackles in his last two seasons at Manatee. He is a former high school teammate of wide receiver Quenton Bundrage.
Projection: This is the weakest part of the Cyclone football team. They were barely able to slow down opposing running backs and mobile quarterbacks — there’s too many moments to count when somebody would break through the line and be found wide open in the middle of Iowa State’s defense.
Somehow, it’s got to improve from a season ago. Even when it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.