Aggies ride tough D, bring potent offense to battle with ISU

Jordan Gizzarelli

The last time Iowa State went to a bowl game, which was 1978, it faced Texas A&M and lost 28-12. The last time the Cyclones faced the Aggies in a Big 12 Conference game, they lost 56-17. The Aggies hold a 4-0 all-time series lead and come into Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday planning to keep that record unblemished.

R.C. Slocum’s 4-2 (2-1 Big 12) Aggies will pose another rushing challenge for the Cyclones as they are ranked 13th nationally and second in the Big 12 against the run, giving up an average of 94.7 yards per game.

The big name on the A&M defense is senior outside linebacker John Glenn. Glenn is a candidate for the Butkus Award and leads his team in sacks with four. He also is tied for second on the team in tackles with 45 and second in tackles for loss with nine.

Glenn is joined on the linebacking crew by two other seniors, Cornellus Anthony and Roylin Bradley and sophomore Brian Gamble.

The Aggies’ three-man front will miss end Rocky Bernard, out with a knee injury, and will try to replace him with junior Evan Perroni. Senior Ron Edwards makes his 33rd straight start at noseguard and senior Ronald Flemons leads the A&M defensive line with 29 tackles.

Sophomore cornerback Sammy Davis is touted as the team’s top pass defender, although fellow cornerback Sean Weston, a redshirt freshmen, leads the team with 10 pass break-ups. Senior free safety Michael Jameson is making a strong return from an early-season injury, and sophomore strong safety Terrence Kiel is the secondary’s top tackler with 35 stops.

Redshirt freshmen Richard Whitaker and sophomore Joe Weber comprise an Aggies backfield that packs a powerful 1-2 punch. The duo has nearly identical statistics and combine for an average of 93.2 yards per game and an average of 5.3 yards per carry, however, Whitaker is doubtful for Saturday’s game with a groin injury. Junior Ja’Mar “Big Rumble” Toombs, weighing in at 275 pounds, is A&M’s go-to-guy when it’s looking to score, amassing eight scores on just 38 carries.

Making the start at quarterback is sophomore Mark Farris, who is coming off of his first 300-yard passing performance. Farris, a 25-year old sophomore, originally signed on to play at A&M in 1994, but instead tried his hand at a professional baseball career. He reached the AA level with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and was considered one of its top prospects before coming back home to Texas to play football. On the season, Farris has thrown for 1393 yards, completing 113 of 183 passes for five scores and four interceptions.

The Aggies’ wide-receiving corps features four unquestionably talented receivers that will present huge problems for the Cyclone secondary.

A&M has not only size, but also speed in senior Chris Taylor, juniors Bethel Johnson and Robert Ferguson and sophomore Greg Porter. Ferguson will be the player to watch as he leads the Aggies in every receiving category with 31 catches for 525 yards and four touchdowns, including an average 87.5 yards receiving per game.

Senior placekicker Terence Kitchens is 20 of 22 on PATs this season and 8 of 11 on field goal tries, including a deadly 6 of 6 from 20-39 yards.

Junior defensive back Wes Bautovich will hold for Kitchens and redshirt freshmen punter Cody Scates will bring his 42.1 yards per punt average to Ames.

Taylor will return punts and Whitaker will return kicks.