Iowa State football: How bad has the Cyclones rush defense been?


August 31, 2013; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones defensive back Levi Peters (35) is stiff armed by Northern Iowa Panthers wide receiver Logan Cunningham (16) in the second half at Jack Trice Stadium. Northern Iowa beat Iowa State 28-20. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA Today Sports

In the past five games dating back to last season, the Iowa State football team’s defense has given up over 200 yards in each of them.

Exactly 1,258 yards and 11 touchdowns were given up in those five games, the highest single game total coming against Tulsa in the Cyclones’ bowl game — 317 yards on the ground and four touchdowns.

Some of it can be linked to the absence of Jake Knott. Ever since he was knocked out after the game against Baylor, the rushing defense has given up that number of yards plus 188 against Oklahoma in their last six games.

But even with him on the team, ISU still gave up an average of 190.7 rushing yards per game against TCU, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State. Take away the Baylor game; in the past nine games, the Cyclones have given up 224.2 rushing yards per game. That’s worse than New Mexico State last year, who ranked 115th overall in rush defense.

So let’s kill the excuses that the defense blows because Knott and A.J. Klein aren’t on the team anymore.

It shouldn’t have surprised us at all that David Johnson was able to mow down the players in cardinal and gold all night long. In fact, any team that has any sort of talented, big running back should be chalked up as an automatic loss.

That leaves the team with three possible wins left on the schedule: Iowa, who has a few potential breakout running backs but no one has been established yet; Texas Tech, who still doesn’t care about the running game; and Kansas, who is the only Big 12 team that can’t pass and the Cyclones can overcome that no matter how many yards they give up on the ground.

It’s the biggest weakness by far on the team, but perhaps it can get better since it’s full of young athletes. Who are the players that want be out there, who want to overachieve, and are completely tired of seeing this team not even come close to stopping a running attack?

If that chemistry can’t be found in the near future, then this team isn’t going to be anywhere near competitive in conference play.