Iowa State football: Five reasons Cyclones will rebound this season

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Nov 16, 2013; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Roy Finch (22) is tackled by Iowa State Cyclones linebacker Jeremiah George (52) and Cyclones defensive end Corey Morrissey (48) in the second half at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

4. The defensive line can’t be that bad at stopping the run this year

When it came to shutting down the run, nothing was paper thin swiss cheese like Iowa State’s front wall. OK, so New Mexico State was the worst giving up nearly 300 yards rushing per game, but they were 114th nationally in rush defense. That’s only better than the three disasters (Purdue, Indiana, and Illinois) of the Big Ten as far as the Power 5 conferences are concerned.

Bottom line for the majority of the last two seasons: if an opponent had any sort of a talented running back, get ready for torture. That mindset needs to be gone if Iowa State wants to get back in the bowl picture annually. It was bad in 2012, and it got worse last year. You can’t begin to count the number of times a running back got away from a primary tackle at the line or was damn near untouched in the middle of the field after already sprinting for 15-plus yards.

What makes matters worse is the talent they lost with players like David Irving and Rodney Coe during the offseason. The whole defense will have to step it up without Jeremiah George or Jacques Washington at linebacker. The outlook may not look promising, but it all starts at the line — if some of the JUCO transfers shine along with one of the captains, Cory Morrissey, it should translate through the rest of the defense.