Cyclone secondary focuses on Farmer, wide receivers

Zac Reicks

Here’s where the true test begins.

Fresh off a thrashing at the hands of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the ISU defense looks to rebound as they square off against the Missouri Tigers in Columbia, Mo., Saturday.

The Cyclone defense will turn its attention to a Tiger passing attack led by quarterback Kirk Farmer and top receiver Justin Gage.

The dynamic duo played a huge role in Missouri’s 41-38 triple overtime win against Oklahoma State last week.

Farmer completed 20 of 33 passes for a career-high 247 yards and three touchdowns.

Gage was on the receiving end of 12 of those passes for a career best 113 yards.

Combine that with the touchdown he scored and Iowa State definitely knows who to focus on this weekend.

In charge of stopping Missouri’s prolific offense will be a Cyclone secondary that has had some success so far this season.

Newcomers Anthony Forrest and Johnny Smith III will try to help the defense gain a little respect after the debacle that occurred last weekend.

“Missouri’s a better team than they were last year,” Forrest said. “They have their old starting quarterback back. He’s got a great arm and a good group of receivers.”

Stopping the explosive Gage will be the biggest priority for a defense that is known for having a pension to give up big plays.

“He’s a real big receiver,” Forrest said of the 6′ 4″ receiver.

“He has nice size and tremendous jumping ability. We just have to go head to head with him and may the best man win.”

Iowa State finally faces a traditional drop-back passer in Farmer who can also run.

After missing most of last season with a shoulder injury, Farmer will be starting only his third game this year and will finally be rounding into mid-season form.

Farmer’s play of late has reminded people of a former ISU quarterback who had success both running and throwing the ball.

“He reminds me a lot of Sage [Rosenfels],” Smith said. ” He’s a very smart quarterback who can run really good.

“He’s a good runner, so we have to focus on containing him as well as respecting his arm. He’s very accurate, and he’s been in the program for a long time, so he knows how to run the offense,” he said.

The Cyclone pass defense, which is ranked third in the nation allowing a paltry 140.2 yards per game, will face its sternest test of the season against Missouri in what will be a pivotal game for Iowa State.

With a win, Iowa State can climb to 4-1 and inch ever closer to that magical six win number.

Coupled with the fact that conference road wins are extremely hard to come by, a win in Columbia, Mo., would go a long way in restoring confidence for the rest of the season.

“We’re going to play our defense, we’re not going to change it up,” Smith said. “We have to be the aggressors on this and not just sit back and wait to see what they are doing.”