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Perfect Combinations: Demond Tucker and Dale Pierson

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Once believed to be a weakness, Iowa State's defensive line has proven they can take a step forward in 2015 thanks to two key contributors.

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Remember last year when any opponent Iowa State faced seemed to get their running backs about five yards down the field in a split second on every rushing attempt? Remember watching opposing quarterbacks have all day to find receivers downfield before making a throw?

So far in 2015, history is NOT repeating itself. The combined efforts of senior defensive end Dale Pierson and junior defensive tackle Demond Tucker have wreaked havoc on opposing linemen, running backs and quarterbacks.

Now in his final year at ISU, Pierson has begun the season ranked atop the nation's leaderboard for sacks per game. Through two games, he's averaging 2.5 sacks per contest, good enough to be all alone at #1 in that category. The senior has also chipped in 12 tackles and picked off Northern Iowa quarterback Aaron Bailey in Iowa State's first game of the season to help turn the tables of that game as the Cyclones went on to achieve victory.

Check out head coach Paul Rhoads' thoughts on Pierson from when he signed his letter of intent:

Meanwhile, Pierson is likely benefitting directly from the presence of JUCO transfer Demond Tucker. The big, mean, brick house of a man in the middle has tallied two tackles for loss during the first two games of the season. Tucker also has one sack and four tackles overall.

However, most of Tucker's influence won't be found on the stat sheet. As read in our "keep an eye on" article from last week, shoving the man he lines up against into the backfield and forcing opposing skill players to veer off their intended course has been one of Tucker's specialties from the middle of the defensive line.

Cyclone fans got a scare when they saw Tucker down on the field grasping his leg against Iowa. He was forced to exit the game with an ankle injury and missed the entire second half. The good news is, it sounds like Tucker will be ready to go against Toledo this Saturday, so he and Pierson will be able to continue giving opposing offenses headaches as they go at it from their spots on the D-line.