1,000 reasons for ISU’s success

Mark Pawlak

Seniors Cory Hannen and Lorenzo White combine to weigh 646 pounds and play on right side of the Cyclones’ offensive line, causing opposing defenses problems.

Just as it has been in years past, the ISU offensive line is strong again this year with Hannen and White teaming to clear holes for running back Ennis Haywood and to protect quarterback Seneca Wallace.

All six years head coach Dan McCarney has been at the helm of the Cyclones, an ISU running back has rushed for 1,000 yards.

The six-year streak of having 1,000-yard rushers is tied for the second longest in the nation. Texas has also had a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the last six seasons, while Wisconsin has had a 1,000-yard gainer for the last eight campaigns.

This fall looks to be no different with Marcel Howard, Bob Montgomery and Zach Butler teaming with Hannen and White to pave the way for Haywood.

Hannen, the right tackle and White, the right guard, are just learning to play next to each other as Hannen played on the left side of the line last year.

“A lot of times on double-team blocks that we do together, it makes it a lot easier having him there than having somebody that may not be as big or talented as he is,” Hannen said. “I didn’t really talk to him much before this year. We’ve gelled together and have a special friendship going now. It’s something we drive off every day out there.”

The Cyclones’ rushing offense is certainly driving. It ranks 18th nationally, gaining 213 yards per game. Haywood leads the attack and is poised for his second consecutive 1,000-yard season.

Haywood has 578 yards on the ground on the season and is averaging 115.6 yards per game, which ranks second in the conference and 17th nationally.

The work of the offensive line has been instrumental in Haywood’s ascension in the Big 12 Conference and Cyclone record books.

Haywood’s 120-yard performance against Missouri moved him into eighth on the all-time ISU career-rushing list and into 12th place on the Big 12 career-rushing chart.

“Anytime you are blocking for an All-American, it makes our job a lot easier,” Hannen said of Haywood.

Haywood said he has taken notice of the job the line does for him.

“Thus far they have been remarkable and playing really well. They have been doing everything coach has expected them to do and doing whatever it takes to get the Ws on the board,” Haywood said.

The line can do more than block for the run. It is just as successful in protecting the QB.

The Cyclones rank second in the Big 12 having allowed five sacks this season following ranking second in nation last fall by surrendering only seven sacks the entire season.

“It’s every lineman’s dream not to give up a lot of sacks, well any sacks. You know you’re going to get some,” White said.

The talent of quarterback Wallace gives the Cyclones’ offense an added dimension. He passes for 177 yards and rushes for 61.6 yards per game.

“You have to have eyes in the back of your head with Seneca. We may be pass blocking one time and the next thing you know it turns into a run block, because you never know what he’s going to do,” Hannen said. “He’s got that special gift that some people don’t have. He can turn a bad play into a good play.”

A strong offensive line has become a staple of Cyclone football.

“Year in and year out in the preseason the offensive line is picked to be one of the low points of the team, but every year it rises as one of the best parts of the team that shines and pulls everything together,” Hannen said.

A stingy Oklahoma State defense will bring a tough Homecoming challenge for the Cyclones.

The Cowboys bring the 18th- ranked rushing defense to Jack Trice Stadium even after allowing 241 rushing yards to Texas last week.

“I know they will be running and gunning for us. They are a very good defense. As long as we do the things that we know we are capable of doing, I feel we should be able to run and throw the ball on them,” Haywood said.