ISU linebackers’ job: stop Ohio backfield

Zac Reicks

Stop the run.

This is usually the first thing teams worry about when trying to control the flow of the game and disrupt the other team’s offense.

The ISU football team will be worrying about doing just that as they travel to Athens, Ohio, this weekend to take on the Ohio Bobcats.

Sporting the third-best rushing attack in the nation, Ohio returns 19 starters from a squad that went 7-4 last year, highlighted by junior quarterback Dontrell Jackson.

The shifty Jackson was a dual threat for the Bobcats last year as he hoisted 881 yards through the air and also led the team in rushing with 864 yards.

When game time rolls around Saturday, the ISU linebackers will have to strap it up and be ready for a busy afternoon.

Helping to lead the charge for the Cardinal and Gold defense will be Jeremy Loyd, a junior college linebacker who is still raw on experience but has a plethora of talent.

“We’re not trying to live in the past, but I thought we did a good job of stopping them last year,” Loyd said.

“We will do just about the same stuff as the last time we played.”

If there is one new advantage for the Cyclones this year, it is the fact that they face a diversified quarterback every day in practice, Seneca Wallace.

“[Dontrell] Jackson is a key guy and a good athlete,” Loyd said.

Other than Jackson, the Cyclones will also have to worry about stopping the tailback tandem of Chad Brinker and Jamel Patterson.

Rushing for a combined 1,394 yards and 17 TDs in 2000, the two juniors teamed with Jackson to give ISU fits as they rushed for 179 yards and a touchdown in last fall’s 25-15 ISU win.

Missing from the defense that helped keep Ohio in relative check will be linebacker Chris Whitaker.

After coming all the way back from an broken leg suffered in spring practice, the Cyclone junior experienced another setback as he tore his left ACL in a non contact drill in practice.

This will cause Whitaker to miss the remainder of the year, but will leave him eligible for a medical redshirt which will leave him two years of eligibility.

“It is going to be tough to replace a player like him,” Loyd said. “We are definitely going to miss him, but we have got pretty good depth and are all ready to go.”

With ISU being a two-point underdog, pay close attention to the matchup of the Bobcat backfield and the Cyclone linebacking corps as Iowa State tries to gain national respect against a veteran Ohio team.