Pogi to test ISU secondary

Zac Reicks

It was supposed to be one of the biggest question marks on Iowa State’s defense this year.

Losing five key players to graduation and only returning starter Atif Austin and key contributor Marc Timmons usually means a rebuilding year for most secondaries. But not Iowa State.

Newcomers Harold Clewis, Johnny Smith III, Anthony Forrest, and Ellis Hobbs have all stepped in and made key plays to help Iowa State to a 4-1 record as they head into this weekend’s Homecoming game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

“I have always known that it was just a matter of getting playing time for those young guys,” Timmons said. “All those guys are great players and everyone else is getting to see what I get to see every day in practice.”

Leading the way for the Cowboys will be quarterback Aso Pogi who torched the Cyclone defense for 328 yards and two scores but also threw a costly interception to Atif Austin that killed a Cowboy drive late in the game. After Sage Rosenfels hit Lane Danielsen for a 33 yard TD strike to win the game, Iowa State was 5-1 for the first time since 1980.

“He’s [Pogi] improved quite a bit which really scares me,” Timmons said. “Last year he had his breakout game against us, and this year he has gotten a lot better so we will have our hands full this Saturday.”

Part of Iowa State’s secondary success this season has been making big plays – none of which was bigger than Adam Runk’s pass breakup that won the Missouri game last weekend.

However, that is not all that the Cyclone defensive backs are trying to do.

“What we like to do is swarm to the ball and be at the right place at the right time,” Timmons said. “When you do that, big plays like fumbles and interceptions happen. It is all just a part of being relentless out on the field.”

One of the biggest factors that can help a young secondary is crowd noise. If a quarterback can’t hear or can’t be heard, confusion will run rampant on the field and that usually means opportunities for the defense.

“It would mean a lot to play in front of a full house,” Timmons said. “The fans were great against Baylor and they made it tough for them to run their no huddle. I just hope they can do the same for us against Oklahoma State.”