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November 3, 2010

Breaking down the Iowa State defense

Nebraska Opponent Defensive Scouting Report

Team: Iowa State Cyclones
Location: Ames, Iowa

Colors: Cardinal & Gold
Enrollment: 26,856
Stadium: Jack Trice Stadium (55,000)
Conference: Big 12 (North Division)

Head Coach: Paul Rhoads (Missouri Western, 1989), 12-10 in two seasons as head coach (both at ISU)
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers: Wally Burnham
2010 Record: 5-4 (3-2 Big 12)

National Ranking: None
Series Record vs. Nebraska: Nebraska leads 85-17-2

Game Date: Saturday, Nov. 6 in Ames, Iowa
Game Time: 2:30 p.m. CT
TV: ABC
Radio: Husker Sports Network

Up Front: NG Stephen Ruempolhamer (6-3, 280) and LE Jacob Lattimer (6-2, 245) have provided the push up front for the Cyclones while posting 53 combined tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss. Lattimer owns a team-high 3.0 sacks for 29 yards lost and has added five pass breakups, while Ruempolhamer has 2.5 sacks. Seven of Lattimer's tackles, including three TFLs, came against Texas, when he made his first career start and earned Big 12 Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors. RE Rashawn Parker (6-0, 250) has added 15 tackles this season after coming back from a season-ending injury in the fourth game last year. DT Bailey Johnson (6-2, 278) owns 13 tackles, a pair of PBUs and a forced fumble to round out the expected starting front four.

The Middle Men: MLB A.J. Klein (6-1, 240) and WLB Jake Knott (6-2, 240) lead the Cyclone defense and rank among the top tacklers in the Big 12 and nation with 93 and 92 tackles, respectively. Klein is second in the league behind Nebraska's Lavonte David with 10.33 tackles per game (13th nationally) and has added a team-best 5.5 TFLs with three interceptions for 100 yards returned along with a fumble recovery. Knott owns 3.5 TFLs including a sack and paces the squad with four interceptions (six total passes defended) and three forced fumbles. He has posted at least 10 tackles in five games this season and is third in the league and 15th nationally in tackles per game at 10.22.

In the Back: SS David Sims (5-9, 204), the 2009 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, has been a stalwart in the secondary, recording 71 tackles (eighth in the Big 12, 45th nationally) while posting four pass breakups, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception this fall. All four of his PBUs came in a victory over Texas, while he added 17 tackles in the loss to Oklahoma. Along with Sims, CB Leonard Johnson (5-10, 195) and CB Ter'Ran Benton (6-0, 197) rank fourth and sixth, respectively, with 37 and 30 tackles this season. They have combined for five TFLs and five passes defended. CB Jeremy Reeves (5-7, 168) leads the team with eight passes defended, including a pair of interceptions while FS Zac Sandvig (5-10, 193) and FS Michael O'Connell (5-11, 208) also each have at least 20 tackles and an interception apiece.

Return Game: Josh Lenz (6-0, 188) has done a nice job in the punt return game, ranking third in the conference and 26th in the country by averaging 10.6 yards on his 11 returns this season. He has a long return of 62 yards for a touchdown against Kansas last week while helping Iowa State rank No. 35 nationally in punt returns. Reserve RB Shontrelle Johnson (5-9, 182) has served as the primary kick returner, toting the ball 22 times following a kickoff for an average of 23.3 ypr. He owns a team-long of 62 yards on a return and is one of two Cyclones with at least 10 kickoff returns this fall. He is joined by David Sims, who has 10 returns for a 20.1-yard average, as ISU ranks 67th nationally in kickoff return average.

They Said It: "It was a calm locker room because I made it that way. As we got in, got sat down, I reminded them that this is what we expected. No one in there needed to be surprised, no one needed to doubt, but what we needed to do was execute, which we didn't do remotely in the first 30 minutes of the ballgame. So I told them the coaches were doing some adjustments, making changes and they were coming out in a few minutes and they were going to coach them. They needed to hear that and go out and execute. That's what they did, most definitely in the third quarter." - Coach Paul Rhoads on ISU's halftime adjustments before scoring 21 points in the third quarter in a come-from-behind win vs. Kansas last week

Quick hits

*** The Cyclones are 11-0 in two years under coach Paul Rhoads when holding opponents to 24 or fewer points, and just 1-10 when allowing 25 or more points.

*** Iowa State has won two straight games, holding Texas to 21 points and Kansas to 16 points over the past two weekends. The pair of solid defensive efforts came immediately after back-to-back losses to nationally ranked Utah and Oklahoma, when ISU allowed a combined 120 points.

*** The ISU defense has done its part to keep the Cyclones in games by forcing 52 turnovers since the start of the 2009 campaign. That total is tied for fourth nationally entering the week and includes 19 turnovers forced this fall (ninth nationally).

*** When the Cyclone offense has turned the ball over, the defense has routinely been there to clean it up. ISU defenders have allowed just one touchdown and four field goals following one of the Cyclones' 11 turnovers this season.

*** Despite producing better numbers the past two weeks, Iowa State still ranks 102nd nationally in total defense by allowing 432.8 ypg this year. The rushing defense is ranked 99th (194.3) in the country and 10th in the league, while the pass efficiency defense (108.5) is 107th and 12th, respectively.

2010 Iowa State Schedule/Results
9/2 Northern Illinois, W, 27-10
9/11 at Iowa, L, 7-35
9/18 vs. Kansas State, L, 20-27
9/25 Northern Iowa, W, 27-0
10/2 Texas Tech, W, 52-38
10/9 Utah, L, 27-68
10/16 at Oklahoma, L, 0-52
10/23 at Texas, W, 28-21
10/30 Kansas, W, 28-16
11/6 Nebraska, 2:30 p.m. ABC
11/13 at Colorado, TBA
11/20 Missouri, TBA



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