Defensive pressure slows Iowa in Cy-Hawk game


Senior linebacker Jevohn Miller picks up and runs with a loose ball during the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series game against Iowa on Sept. 13 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. The Cyclones defeated the Hawkeyes 20-17.

Ryan Young

In Sept. 13’s rivalry win against Iowa, one thing was abundantly clear: The ISU defense has improved since the start of the season.

After allowing 34 straight points against North Dakota State in week one, the ISU defense finally found a groove that worked. It kept the Hawkeyes to only three points in the second half last weekend and came up with several key stops in the final minutes of the game.

“I’m just so excited. We played as a complete defense out there,” said senior linebacker Jevohn Miller. “I have to give credit to the defensive line. They fought their butts off keeping the lineman off of us, and they made some big plays.”

One of the key parts of the defense comes in the form of senior defensive end Cory Morrissey. Morrissey had the challenge of being matched up with Iowa offensive lineman and potential top 10 NFL draft pick Brandon Scherff.

Morrissey took the challenge head on, playing what coaches say is possibly his best game of the season if not his career. The Ames native had two sacks on the day, the most by any player from either team.

“We just played sound football,” Morrissey said. “The guys are learning what they need to do to be successful. Going out there doing this against Iowa, we’re showing the nation what we can do and what kind of team we can be.”

But it wasn’t just Morrissey’s two sacks that shook Iowa’s offense. The pressure that Morrissey brought was enough to rush Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock on several occasions, leading to several stops and even an interception.

In fact, Iowa State held the Iowa offense to only 12 plays in ISU territory during the second half and just 108 yards in the final 31 plays of the game — definitely one of the best defensive performances by the Cyclones this season.

“I think a lot of it seemed like we were out of rhythm,” said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. “It seemed like we were just kind of muddled there and Jake [Rudock] held the ball a little big longer, and credit goes to Iowa State. They played really good team defense today.”

One major challenge that the defense still faces is the ability to play an entire game to its full potential. Throughout the first three games, the defense has gone several minutes, even several quarters, without being able to make a stop.

While this has improved tremendously for the Cyclones, traces of old habits still remain.

It allowed 14 first-half points against Iowa, and seemed unable to get many stops during the beginning of the game. Ferentz saw a big difference in the second half, however, noting a big improvement from the defense.

“We did a decent job [getting in rhythm] in the first half,” Ferentz said. “Second half we just never got in the traction. Part of that is self-inflicted and part of that is just good play on their part, so credit goes to them.”

The biggest thing that players took away from the game is probably the fact that they never gave up. They say that they finished what they started, and that’s the best part about the win.

“It just shows that we have a lot of heart,” Miller said. “There are lots of young guys that are still hungry and they want to get better everyday, and we’re getting better every single week. We’re taking it day by day, and that’s what we did on the field playing the full 60 minutes.”