Iowa State Preview 2006 - Defense
Iowa State Cyclones
Preview 2006 - Cyclone defense
What you need to know ...
The defense made a ton of big plays last year with a
high-risk, high-reward style that led the way to a strong run
defense and 35 takeaways. Expect more of the same with plenty of
blitzing from the back seven. There are
more good athletes than the Cyclones have had under head coach
Dan McCarney, but there are also some major holes to be filled on the line
and secondary with several good-looking young prospects needing
to quickly become playmakers. There are great building blocks to
work around with Brent Curvey and Shawn Moorehead on the line and corner DeAndre
Jackson all sure to be in line for Big 12 honors.
Tackles: Brent Curvey,
Brent Curvey, 6.5
Interceptions: DeAndre Jackson, 5
Star of the defense: Senior CB DeAndre Jackson
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
CB Chris Singleton
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore LB Tyrone McKenzie
Best pro prospect: Jackson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Jackson, 2) DT Brent
Curvey, 3) DE Shawn Moorehead
Strength of the defense: Linebacker
Weakness of the defense: Secondary experience
There are some huge losses up front with top
tackle Nick Leaders and unstoppable end Jason Berryman both gone. There
Cyclones aren't starting from scratch with Brent Curvey and Shawn
Moorehead two of the Big 12's highest motor producers, but this isn't a
big line and it might have problems holding up against the bigger lines.
Kurtis Taylor had a great spring, but he's not going to be Berryman.
There are good reserves battling for spots inside, and now depth has to
develop on the ends.
The key to the unit: Generate a consistent pass rush on the other
side of Shawn Moorehead and hold up strong against the bigger running
Defensive Line Rating: 7.5
- DE Kurtis Taylor, Jr. - 7 tackles
Taylor was one of the team's better players over spring ball and is
poised for a big year. The former linebacker will move to end where he's
expected to provide a steady pass rush
- NG Bryce Braaksma, Jr. - 1 tackle
It'll be up to the 260-pound junior to take over for Nick Leaders on the
nose battling with Matt Berg for the job. He's an great performer in the
classroom, and now he has to be a good interior pass rusher to make up
for his lack of bulk.
- DT Brent Curvey, Sr. - 61 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 8.5 TFL, 1
interception, 4 quarterback hurries
One of the Big 12's best all-around tackles, the 305-pound senior is
surprisingly fast and should be a lock for all-star honors. "Big Play"
is a tremendous pass rusher with too much quickness for most guards and
should be the leader of the line.
- DE Shawn Moorehead, Sr. - 34 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 9.5 TFL
The Academic All-Big 12 performer also turned into a strong starter last
season. The former walk-on has bulked up to a rangy 6-4, 250-pound pass
rusher who's one of the team's hardest workers. He's surprisingly strong
against the run with 80 career tackles.
- DE Travis Ferguson, Soph.
Mostly a scout teamer so far, the 245-pound sophomore will be the
understudy behind Shawn Moorehead at the rush end. He's athletic and has
good potential, and his development is one of the keys to a line that
needs depth on the end.
- DE Nick Frere, Soph. - 2 tackles
The former linebacker will be one of the team's main backups pushing for
time behind Kurtis Taylor. He was a high school receiver and running
back who brings the athleticism to the line.
- DT Stephon Dale, RFr.
While Bryce Braaksma will be the starter on the nose, the line needs
Dale to be a consistent defender in the rotation. The two guards are
undersized and both will see plenty of action.
The loss of top tackler Tim Dobbins won't hurt
all that much thanks to the expected emergence of Tyrone McKenzie on the
outside. However, things get rough needing Adam Carper to shine in the middle with Matt Robertson
and his 103 tackles out of the mix after getting kicked off the team for
taking a banned nutritional supplement. Adam Carper is a
tremendous backup with the versatility to play any of the three spots.
Alvin Bowen and Josh Raven aren't all that big on the weakside, but they
can run. Expect a ton of big plays and lots of overall production.
The key to the unit: Hope for Adam Carper to shine
on the inside and for Tyrone McKenzie to be as good as expected.
Linebacker Rating: 7
- Tyrone McKenzie, Soph.
The Michigan State transfer will be fantastic on the strongside. He was
unstoppable on the scout team last season showing off tremendous speed
and athleticism. He's a sprinter in a 230-pound body.
Adam Carper, Soph. - 41 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 interception, 3
broken up passes
He'll get the starting spot in the middle now that Matt Robertson is off
the team. The all-star freshman got far stronger last year
filling out his 6-3 frame to get up to a strong 225 pounds with the
speed and strength to play either strongside or in the middle. He turned
into a sensational pass rusher this spring and should spend most of this
fall in opposing backfields.
- Alvin Bowen, Jr. - 33 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL
"Ace" was a key reserve and now will take over on the weakside for Matt
Robertson. He's a tall, rangy player at 6-4 and 220 pounds with great
speed. He's a former JUCO transfer who should be one of the team's
leading tacklers and a potential terror in the backfield.
- Matt Robertson, Sr. - 103 tackles, 1 interception, 4 broken up
passes, 5 TFL
Robertson was all set to be one of the Big 12's top tacklers once again, but he was
thrown off the team after testing positive for a banned nutritional
- Josh Raven, RFr.
He's not big at only 5-11 and 205 pounds, but he can move. Even though
he's a bit too small to be an every down linebacker, he'll be a
dangerous backup on the weakside.
The secondary wasn't a rock last year getting beaten deep
way too often, but it made a ton of big plays and was a good group
against short to medium range passers. Things aren't going to be as bad
as they might appear early on after losing three top starters as long as
all the good-looking young athletes turn into playmakers. There's good
competition at the safety spots and at right corner, but there's little
to no experience anywhere outside of corner DeAndre Jackson, who should
be one of the best in the country.
The key to the unit: Desperately hope for all the
young prospects to be productive right away and stop allowing so many
big chunks of yards.
Secondary Rating: 6.5
- CB DeAndre Jackson, Sr. - 55 tackles, 5 interception, 8
broken up passes, 1 TFL, 4 forced fumbles
One of the best defensive backs in the Big 12, the 6-0, 192-pound senior
hits like a safety and covers like a corner. He'll get beat taking a lot
of chances, but it's worth it with all the big plays he makes both
against the run and when the ball is in the air. He's just a tremendous
- FS Jon Banks, Jr. - 7 tackles
Mostly a special teamer so far, the 6-3, 217-pound junior will battle
with Caleb Berg for the starting job to replace Steve Paris. Banks has
the size and should be a big hitter, but consistency will be the big
question early on.
- SS James Smith, RFr.
While he doesn't have any experience, isn't all that big at 5-8 and 191
pounds, and he has to replace the steady play of Nik Moser, but he's
really, really fast. He'll combine with Caleb Berg for the job.
- CB Chris Singleton, Soph. - 8 tackles, 3 broken up passes
A nickel back all of last year, Singleton appears to be a playmaker in
the making just needing a little more time before he's a good one. He
has to prepare to be picked on with teams sure to stay away from DeAndre
Jackson on the other side.
- S Caleb Berg, Jr. - 6 tackles
The 6-1, 203-pound junior is versatile enough to play either safety
position and could end up starting at some point. A top special teamer
so far, he has to being his big-play potential and be a strong, steady
- CB Steve Johnson, RFr.
An emerging star at corner, Johnson is big at 6-2 and 197 pounds with a
boatload of talent behind Chris Singleton on the right side. He'll be a
key special teamer early on and should quickly push for time.
- CB Chris Brown, Soph.
A special teamer so far after coming to Iowa State as a quarterback,
Brown is an athletic option on the left side behind DeAndre Jackson.
He'll get every shot this summer to earn more playing time.
The kicking game will be fine as long as a steady punter
emerges in the battle between Michael Brandtner and Scott Krava. Bret
Culbertson will be one of the Big 12's better kickers. The punt coverage
unit has to be far better, but the kickoff coverage was fantastic last
season and DeAndre Jackson should be one of the nation's best kickoff
returners. Ryan Baum will take over the punt return job full-time after
averaging 11.8 yards per return.
The key to the unit: Come up with a good punter and
get another strong year out of PK Bret Culbertson.
Special Teams Rating: 6.5
- PK Bret Culbertson, Jr. - 12-16 FGs, 34-34 extra points
Culbertson came in as a walk-on and took over and becoming a rock-solid
kicker showing decent range and good consistency hitting nine of ten
kicks inside 40 yards. He's also clutch. The down side is his deep leg;
he doesn't have one.
- P Michael Brandtner, RFr.
Brandtner and Scott Krava will combine to try to replace
Troy Blankenship and his 42.5 yards per kick. Brandtner saw plenty of
action in practices late last year and in bowl preparations showing off
a huge leg.