Linebackers hope to contain Bears

Zac Reicks

Coming off a less than stellar performance against Ohio last week, the ISU defense looks to set the tone for the rest of the Big 12 season as they take on the Baylor Bears this Saturday in their conference opener.

Still licking the wounds from last week’s rough outing, the defense has turned the page and their attention to stopping a Baylor offense that ranked last in the Big 12 in just about every offensive category.

The Cyclones will not have to worry about stopping an option attack this weekend as Baylor runs a much more conventional pro-multiple set with spread formations much of the time.

Linebacker Jeremy Loyd, who already has nine tackles, one sack and an interception on this young season will team with Matt Word and Justin Eilers to control both the running game and passing game of the Bears.

“We are working really hard on getting our defense to run to the ball,” Loyd said. “Baylor’s offense is a little more conventional and a little easier to go against than a team that runs the option well.”

The leading returnee on the Baylor offense is junior receiver Reggie Newhouse.

The wiry 195 pounder became the first Bear in 17 seasons to catch forty passes in a season and will be the No. 1 option again this year. The passing game will be something the Cyclones will have to concentrate on as they enjoy spreading the ball around the field.

“It seems like they like to throw the football and use as much of the field as they can,” Loyd said. “We will definitely have to be able to defend the pass this weekend, but first things first, we will stop the run.”

Playing good defense requires the linebackers to be durable and conditioned.

With the recent loss of Chris Whitaker for the season, depth has now become an issue for the Cyclones.

However, if Iowa State continues to receive efforts like the one they got last weekend from junior linebacker Matt Word, depth will not a question. Word played every snap against Ohio and garnered 14 tackles and a fumble recovery. Loyd was quick to recognize the sacrifice Word made that afternoon.

“Word went the whole game last week and left it all on the field,” Loyd said. “He did a great job of stepping it up and answering the call to play.”

That’s what it will take for Iowa State’s defense to be successful the rest of the season – sacrifice and determination. While much of this year’s scrutiny will fall on the young, untested defense this year, Loyd and the rest of his mates enjoy having a good offense to help balance out the team.

“A good offense always helps a defense,” Loyd said. “It gives us a breather, controls the time of possession.”