2013 Iowa State Preview - Defense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 26, 2013


CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Iowa State Cyclone Defense


Iowa State Cyclones

Preview 2013 - Defense


- 2013 Iowa State Preview | 2013 Iowa State Offense
- 2013 Iowa State Defense | 2013 Iowa State Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: Everyone struggles in the Big 12 defensively when the top offenses start to get rolling, but the Cyclones need to start doing more to take over games. It will start with the pass rush that completely and totally disappeared over the second half of last year, but needs to find someone from the outside who can get to the quarterback on a regular basis. The secondary might be better than the stats, needing help from the line to get to the quarterback. The safety situation might be the strength of the defense, and the corner rotation should be strong with a little bit of time. The big focus, though, will be at linebacker with Jake Knott and A.J. Klein gone. Fortunately, there are talented prospects returning who’ll put up big numbers.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Jacques Washington, 90
Sacks: David Irving, Willie Scott, Walter Woods, 1
Interceptions: Jacques Washington, 3

Star of the defense: Senior FS Jacques Washington
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior DE Willie Scott
Unsung star on the rise: Junior LB Jevohn Miller
Best pro prospect: Washington
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Washington, 2) LB Jeremiah George, 3) SS Deon Broomfield
Strength of the defense: Safety, Young Linebackers
Weakness of the defense: Pass Rush, Big Plays

Defensive Line

The pass rush was abysmal last season coming up with just 15 sacks and not getting nearly enough production from the ends. It’s now up to senior Willie Scott to use his experience and athleticism to be far more of a big play performer after coming up with just one sack and two tackles for loss with 37 tackles. At 6-2 and 224 pounds he’s not all that big, but he’s quick off the ball and has the potential to become more dangerous if the rest of the line helps out. 6-7, 272-pound junior David Irving is banged up, but he’s going to come back as a potential factor on the outside with tremendous size and an excellent frame to grow into a tackle if needed. He made 20 tackles with a sack, but he’s tough to throw over and is tough to get around. Junior Cory Morrissey is a 6-4, 249-pound veteran who made seven tackles with two tackles for loss in his limited time, and 6-2, 240-pound sophomore Nick Kron is a quick-off-the-ball pass rushing prospect who showed a little promise in his first year. Now he has to come back healthy after having foot problems.

Clogging things up on the inside will be up to a pair of 300-pounders on the nose. 6-0, 318-pound senior Walter Woods III is a big body who saw a little bit of time making eight tackles with a sack and three tackles for loss, but it’ll likely be 6-5, 301-pound junior Brandon Jensen who plays an even bigger role on the nose. He can play anywhere on the interior and appears ready to do a great job with more work. 6-5, 277-pound redshirt freshman Collin Bevins was a good recruit last year with the athleticism to be a decent interior pass rusher, while 6-2, 277-pound junior Austin Krick will bring more bulk.

Watch Out For … JUCO transfer Rodney Coe. True freshmen J.D. Waggoner and Justin Madison are two of the team’s top recruits for the defense – with Madison a very smart, very athletic option and Waggoner a dangerous pass rusher out of Texas – but it’s Coe who should be a huge factor right away with 6-3, 285-pound size and good toughness. While he’s not a pure pass rusher, he can stop the run.
Strength: A rotation. For the second straight season it’s a young line that needs time and effort, but it should be a versatile group that can find options for all four spots depending on who’s hot. It’ll take a while to put together the puzzle, but there are players to work with.
Weakness: Pass rush. There just isn’t any, and it’s been the Achilles heel for the program since Rhoads took over. 106th in the nation in sacks and 112th in tackles for loss in 2011, things didn’t get much better finishing 112th in sacks and 103rd in tackles for loss last season.
Outlook: The line got better against the run despite many plays behind the line, and while there’s work to do, there’s a nice blend of size, athleticism and promise. There might not be any all-stars, but it should be an okay line that isn’t a major plus, but won’t be a total disaster.
Unit Rating: 6

Linebackers

All Iowa State has to do is replace A.J. Klein, who finished his career with 361 tackles, and Jake Knott, who got hurt halfway through last season and still finished with 347 career stops. Trying to do the impossible and take over the linebacking corps is Jeremiah George, a big-hitting 5-11, 219 pounder who finished third on the team last season with 87 tackles with four tackles for loss. While he’s not all that big, he has tremendous range and isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty. Adding more size on the inside is 6-0, 233-pound redshirt freshman Darius White, a good recruit last season who’s built for the job after beefing up.

The outside is more of a question mark. 6-1, 240-pound junior Jevohn Miller is a good-sized option on the weakside with a little bit of experience making 22 tackles last year. Very big and very strong, he could play in the middle if needed, but he’s ready to become a statistical superstar after serving as Knott’s understudy. Redshirt freshman Luke Knott, Jake’s younger brother, is a smaller, quicker option who’ll work in the rotation.

Junior Jared Brackens is moving to linebacker from strong safety after seeing a little time making seven tackles. He’s only 6-1 and 210 pounds, but he’s physical and can hit. However, he’ll need help from 6-2, 241-pound freshman Alton Meeks, a top recruit who played both quarterback and linebacker at Dr. Phillips High in Orlando. While he was decent under center, the star wrestler was far stronger on the defensive side.

Watch Out For … Miller. He hasn’t done it yet, but now it’s his time to shine. George will be terrific in the middle, and it’ll be a shocker if Miller doesn’t put up huge numbers.
Strength: The future. Luke Knott might not be Jake, but he’s expected to be okay. However, Meeks and White are two Big 12-sized young defenders with the talent to grow into their roles right away. Their upside is limitless.
Weakness: Experience. The Cyclones went on without Knott, but it was still a big loss. You don’t get better by losing him and Klein. There are a lot of untested parts.
Outlook: It’ll be fine with a little bit of time. If Brackens can hold up and if the freshmen can be close to as good as expected, this should be a decent corps that puts up nice numbers. However, will the big plays come? If anyone can get into the backfield it’ll be a major plus.
Unit Rating: 6

Defensive Backs

The secondary should be far better if there’s any help from the pass rush. It all starts with the safeties led by free safety Jacques Washington, a 6-1, 220-pound big-hitting senior who finished second on the team with 90 tackles for the second straight season while tying for the team lead with three picks. The former high school running back went from being a promising reserve to a great all-around defender. Smart, instinctive and productive, it’s all there to be a bigger star now that he’s the team’s top returning defensive back. Also returning is senior Deon Broomfield, a 6-0, 206-pound veteran who’ll step in for Durrell Givens at strong safety after making 34 tackles with ten broken up passes and two picks. He stepped up his game when the ball was in the air and showed great range. Veteran Cliff Stokes will work at free safety but can see time at either spot. The 6-1, 175-pound senior and Tallahassee native made 35 tackles and broke up 16 broken up passes for Trinity Valley CC and was a nice get for the Cyclones, coming up with 26 tackles last year.

Senior Jansen Watson is back after suffering a shoulder injury, and he should once again be the team’s top corner after coming up with 41 tackles with seven broken up passes. At 5-9 and 174 pounds he’s not that big, but he’s a speedster who has no problems hanging with the faster receivers. However, he has to come back healthy and 100% - he’s a good tackler who’ll get physical. On the other side will likely be Greg Shaeffer, a nice 5-11, 199-pound junior who took over the starting role late last season, but suffered a shoulder problem and needs to come back roaring this fall. A good tackler with nice size, he made 23 stops on the season but didn’t do much against the pass.

Until the corners are ready, 5-10, 165-pound sophomore Kenneth Lynn will get every shot at a job after getting his feet wet last season. Extremely quick with excellent deep speed, he has the skills and the talent to grow into a job somewhere, while 5-7, 182-pound sophomore Sam Richardson will see more time as a corner and nickel and dime defender with excellent quickness and good drive on the ball. In his limited time he made just four tackles, but he broke up two passes.

Watch Out For … Kamari Syrie. The coaching staff didn’t go after a slew of defensive backs in the recruiting class, but the 5-10, 190-pound Bell is a terrific safety prospect with big hitting skills and the ability to blast away to get the ball. He won’t be needed right away, but he might be the team’s top safety in a big hurry.
Strength: Safety. Washington and Broomfield are two seniors who know exactly what they’re doing and have no problems helping the cause against the run. They’re two veteran Big 12 defensive backs who won’t make a slew of mistakes, while Stokes is a nice option who can help the cause.
Weakness: Big plays. The linebackers helped out with the interceptions and Durrell Givens led the team with three picks. This group needs to change the momentum more often with five of the 14 interceptions coming in the final eight games.
Outlook: The pass rush needs to help, but the secondary should become a bigger factor with excellent safeties and a good rotation at corner once Watson and Shaeffer are healthy. There will be some ugly moments – the pass D allowed 400 yards or more in three straight midseason games – but it’s not going to be awful.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Special Teams

Senior Edwin Arceo is back after hitting 12-of-18 field goals last season. While he might have missed a chippy against Baylor and a 34-yarder in the bowl loss, the rest of his misses were bombs, misfiring on a 57-yarder against Iowa and a 53-yarder against Texas. However, he has a big leg from 40+ yards and can be tried out from over 50.

Veteran punter Kyle Van Der Kamp came up with a fantastic season averaging 41 yards per kick putting 29 inside the 20. He only gave up two touchbacks and forced 30 fair catches – he knows what he’s doing and should be an all-star-caliber weapon.

It’ll be an open casting call on punt returners after Aaron Horne averaged 12.7 yards per try, but Jarvis West and Albert Gary will get a shot after doing an excellent job on kickoff returns with Gary averaging 24.5 yards per try and West averaging 21.1 yards per pop.

Watch Out For … Arceo. The overall stats might not look all that great, but he’s seasoned now and trusted from deep. He might misfire on a few, but he’ll come up with at least one big kick to win a game this year.
Strength: Punting. The kickoff return game is special and Arceo’s deep leg is solid, but it’s Van Der Kamp who’s the star of the special teams with the ability to blast the team out of jams time and again.
Weakness: Kickoff coverage. The Cyclones were disastrous in kickoff coverage allowing a whopping 23.2 yards per try without giving up the one monster return for a touchdown to screw up the stats.
Outlook: This should be a big strength if a punt returner can emerge. West and Gary are terrific kickoff returners, Arceo is a blaster and Van Der Kamp is a star. Special teams have been a plus in the Rhoads era, and the production should continue.
Unit Rating: 7

- 2013 Iowa State Preview | 2013 Iowa State Offense
- 2013 Iowa State Defense | 2013 Iowa State Depth Chart