We have made it to the glorious month of October, when the Cyclones magically activate their superpowers and win a lot of football games
Welcome to Brocktober
To find the last game Iowa State dropped in the month of October, you’d have to go back to the 2016 season. The ‘Clones have excelled in the last two Octobers, and given fans hope for a potential Big 12 Title Game berth. Brock Purdy would make sure that 8 game win streak would continue. Purdy finished the TCU game 19-24 with 247 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Not impressed? Add 102 rushing yards and another 2 touchdowns on the ground. Corn Jesus proves himself week in week out, and has now surpassed Heisman-hopeful Jalen Hurts at the top of the Big 12 for passing yards, surpassing the 1,500 yard mark just five games into the season. Now that the offense has faced probably the two toughest defenses on the schedule, and largely excelled against those teams, Iowa State should be able to continue its success on offense.
New Names Are Excelling On The Defense
Jaquan Bailey was thought to have been a major loss to this defense, but sophomore Zach Petersen filled the spot admirably last weekend, a testament to the absurd depth the Cyclones have on the defensive line. He finished the day with 6 total tackles (4 solos) and half of a tackle for loss. Petersen’s ability to handle Bailey’s run-stopping and pass-rushing duties bodes well for the future, as Jaquan May look to redshirt and return next season.
Another player that continues to open eyes is fellow sophomore O’Rien Vance. Vance led the Cyclones in tackles for the second straight game, and forced a fumble on a sack that led to an Enyi Uwazurike scoop and score. Vance forced himself into the starting lineup in training camp, and has proven he belongs, totaling 34 tackles and 6.5 sacks (5th in the country) thus far in the 2019 season. Vance and Mike Rose continue to dominate, and look to become the next great Cyclone linebacker duo.
Defensive Backs Must Improve
In order for Iowa State’s defense to be as dominant as previous years, the defensive backs need to step up. While we might be accustomed to seeing DeAndre Payne and Brian Peavy lock up receivers, new guys like Anthony Johnson, Arnold Azunna, and Datrone Young have struggled as of late, as teams are averaging over 230 passing yards per game, ranking 77th amongst FBS schools. Whether you would like to chalk that up to the defensive lineman not containing or getting enough pressure, teams are still completing just over 61% of passes against this Cyclone secondary. The run defense has been nothing short of ideal, with opponents gaining only 113 yards per game through 5 games. The safties however, have been phenominal. There was an obvious difference in the secondary when Greg Eisworth came out due to injury in the 4th quarter, but Lawrence White has also proven himself as a very good open field tackler, and has been the guy to rush the quarterback if Jon Heacock draws up a safety blitz. Braxton Lewis has also been productive while battling through early season injuries. If this defense plans to lead the charge to change the narrative of “The Big 12 doesn’t play defense” for the 3rd straight season, it will start at the cornerback position.