NOTEBOOK: Defense catches breath, forces five turnovers


Linebacker Jake Knott and defensive back Jacques Washington tackle a TCU receiver during the game Saturday, Oct. 6, at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. Knott had 10 solo tackles in the 37-23 victory against TCU. 

Stephen Koenigsfeld

FORT WORTH, Texas — With some help from an offense that was lacking in its conference opener, the ISU football team was able to clinch its first conference win against No. 15 TCU last Saturday.

What helped the Cyclones achieve this feat wasn’t only the surprise start of quarterback Jared Barnett, but that of the ISU defense, which forced five total turnovers.

Defensive tackle Jake McDonough said going on the road is something the defense looks forward to.

“A lot of us would agree, we like coming into hostile environments,” McDonough said.

The defense intercepted three passes from quarterback Trevone Boykin, who got called up after Casey Pachall was suspended one day before TCU’s inaugural Big 12 home opener.

The interceptions played a key role, from the defensive standpoint, in being able to come out of Fort Worth with a win against TCU for the first time in school history.

One interception was picked off by linebacker Jake Knott, who brought his interception back 34 yards before being brought down out of bounds.

“I had intentions to bring it all the way back,” Knott said. “But I heard the sidelines say, ‘get on down, get on down.’ So I made the right decision.”

Knott’s interception was his second this season and the eighth interception of his career — tying him for ninth all-time.

Defensive end David Irving also brought back a tipped pass from the line of scrimmage for a 20-yard return for a touchdown and his first-career interception to put the game away 37-23 with 7:51 remaining.

Getting a break

Continuing a trend from last season, TCU dominated the possession time, having the ball for just over 10 more minutes than Iowa State. However, Iowa State was able to score 14 of their 37 points from special teams and defense.

Also opposed to the week before, the offense was able to put up 30 points on its own against TCU, including four touchdowns — three receiving, one passing — from Josh Lenz.

Having the offense produce on the field gave the defense a breather.

“Any time the offense goes out there and controls the drive and not turn the ball over, that’s a big confidence boost to the defense,” Knott said. “Because if you do something bad, you’re not going to have to worry about it as much.”

McDonough commented on what helped the defense’s ability to adjust to TCU’s offensive style and tempo.

“[The tempo] was a lot slower-paced. They huddled and we were able to get the play calls in slower,” McDonough said.

On the flip side, Iowa State committed a season-low of just one turnover — Barnett’s interception thrown just before the end of the first half.

The turnover battle has been something ISU coach Paul Rhoads has said needs to be won in order win games.

“It was great to end up on the plus side today [in turnovers],” Rhoads said. “The turnover margin is about both sides of the ball. Our guys were hungry and got after it today and created some of their own, and we were able to take advantage of it or score with it.”

Rhoads said the two critical turnovers were those of Irving and Knott. Getting the interception returned for a touchdown and taking the ball away from TCU in the red zone was important, Rhoads said, so the Cyclones weren’t in an uneasy position late in the game.