ISU football readies for tough game against rival Iowa


Kelby Wingert/Iowa State Daily

Senior defensive end Cory Morrissey runs during the North Dakota State game Aug. 30 at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones fell to the Bison 14-34.

Beau Berkley

There’s a saying in football that goes “games are won and lost in the trenches.” When ISU football takes on Iowa this weekend, that saying could hold true.

Since Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz took over the team in 1999, he has had three offensive linemen get picked up in the first round of the NFL Draft — most recently Riley Reiff, who was drafted 23rd overall by the Detroit Lions in 2012. This season’s crew of Iowa linemen is not without a stand out. 

Left tackle Brandon Scherff, who is projected to be a top pick in the 2015 draft, leads an offensive line that will try to protect quarterback Jake Rudock as well as create holes for a stable of running backs.

Iowa will rotate through running backs Mark Weisman, Damon Bullock, Jordan Canzeri and LeShun Daniels Jr. Through the first two games, Weisman has received the bulk of the carries with 16 attempts while Canzeri and Daniels Jr. both have 12.

As a team, Iowa is averaging 132 rushing yards per game.  

“They’re going to establish the run game,” said ISU head coach Paul Rhoads. “That’s who they are and I don’t have any doubt that that’s what we see from them.” 

Rhoads said he and his staff are familiar with Scherff as he was heavily recruited by Iowa State and several other schools around the Midwest before signing with the Hawkeyes.

Lining up across from Scherff will be ISU defensive end Cory Morrissey. Morrissey, one of three team captains, has one and a half sacks and five tackles after the first two games.

“I’m just scouting out my opponent and going in like it’s any other game,” Morrisey said. “He does a lot of things well, he’s a pretty solid player overall.

“I’m just going to go out there and do my thing and play my game against him and see if he can match it.”

On the other side of the ball, Iowa’s front four is always a staple of its defense. Iowa defensive lineman Drew Ott has two sacks and 18 total tackles heading into this weekend’s rivalry game. Iowa’s defense has kept opponents to an average of 57 rushing yards per game.

“The front four is a great concern but the entire defense is a great concern,” Rhoads said. “Iowa historically has been known for being extremely sound, not allowing a lot of points, being where they’re supposed to be, not giving up a lot of big plays and this defense is no different.”