Iowa State sets sights on Tech

Emily Arthur

Despite a intrastate matchup with Iowa coming up in just one week, the ISU football team isn’t taking Saturday’s Division I-AA opponent Tennessee Tech lightly.

“We can’t afford to do that,” ISU head coach Dan McCarney said. “Before I got here, we all know that I-AA teams beat Iowa State. We’re just not going to let that happen. Every one of these games is so important in our season and in our mission that we’re on right now.”

Iowa State’s mission began two weeks ago with a tough 38-31 loss to No. 5 Florida State.

Last weekend, the Cyclones beat Kansas 45-3 to set up this week’s matchup with Tennessee Tech.

“They were 8-3 last year, so they’re coming off a good year,” ISU defensive lineman Jordan Carstens said.

“They’re coming in here an underdog, trying to knock off a Big 12 team. They’re going to come out swinging, so we’ve got to be ready for it.”

Tennessee Tech lost 41-7 last weekend to Bowling Green, but McCarney said his team is still leary of the Golden Eagles.

“They’ve got good players, they’re well coached and they’re sound, and we’ve just got to be ready,” he said.

“We’ve got to jump on them like we did Kansas – get them down and keep them down and don’t let them back in the football game.”

One player Iowa State will have to watch out for is right tackle D.J. Bleisath, who is considered one of the top I-AA defensive players in the country.

A consensus All-American last season, as well as a finalist for the Buck Buchanan award, Bleisath led the nation in tackles-for-loss with 24 for 125 yards.

“He’s a real fine player,” McCarney said of Bleisath. “He uses his hands well, he’s a very physical player, but our offensive line sees some pretty good defensive lineman in practice everyday.”

On the offensive side of the ball, Tennessee Tech is led by sophomore quarterback Robert Craft and junior wide receiver Derek Lee.

Craft and Lee hooked up for 170 yards last week against Bowling Green.

“I know they didn’t get very many rushing yards in their first game, so I’m guessing they’re going to throw a lot,” ISU defensive back Atif Austin said. “We’ve got a pretty good D-line, so I’m pretty sure they’re not going to be able to run on us, so they’re going to have to go to the pass. I think that will give us a chance to get some turnovers.”

Austin is also banking on Tennessee Tech trying their hand at a few trick plays.

“Screens, throwback passes, reverses. I’m pretty sure that they’re going to try to pull everything out of the book that they can,” Austin said. “I think this is a good game for us, because later on in the season there’s going to be teams that try trickery stuff on us, and we have to be prepared for that.”

Austin said, above all, Iowa State is not overlooking the Golden Eagles.

“We’re going into it like every other game,” he said. “They’re our opponent, and they’re on the schedule, so you’ve go to get up and get ready to play them.