ISU defense aims to halt Oklahoma rushing attack


Linebackers Jevohn Miller and Luke Knott make a tackle against No. 7 Baylor on Sept. 27 at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones fell to the Bears 49-28. Miller led the Cyclones in tackles with 17.

Beau Berkley

In a conference littered with talented quarterbacks, the ISU football team has already seen, and will continue to see, its fair share of top tier quarterbacks.

First there was Kansas State’s Jake Waters, Baylor’s Bryce Petty and more recently Texas’ Tyrone Swoopes. On Nov. 1, the ISU defense will have Trevor Knight to contain, but even more worrisome than Knight is Oklahoma’s rushing attack, which has proven to be formidable this season. 

As a team, Oklahoma ranks third in the Big 12 in rushing offense with 192 yards per game, which also ranks them 41st in the nation. The Sooner’s ground game is led by true freshman Samaje Perine, who has rushed for 657 yards on the season and 10 touchdowns, including a 242 yard, four touchdown performance against West Virginia. 

Joining Perine in the backfield is Alex Ross and Keith Ford, who together form what ISU defensive coordinator Wally Burnham called the deepest rushing attack his defense has played this season. 

“They are a power running football team, they are not a spread team, everyone thinks they are but they’re not,” Burnham said. “They got three or four of them [running backs] that can pound it through the middle and they got three or four that can break one and go a long way on you.”

Protecting the Oklahoma running backs is a stout offensive line that linebacker Luke Knott said is different from many of the lines that Big 12 teams have. 

“Across the board, they’re about 320, 340 pounds,” Knott said. “Especially in the Big 12, you don’t see as many of those big of guys, it’s more of a power run game this year and that’s different than they usually are.” 

Burnham said that tackling will be of the upmost importance this week and making sure his defense gets to ball carriers quick and wrap up. This season, Iowa State has been somewhat woeful against the run.

Teams are averaging 209 rushing yards per game against the Cyclones and have scored 24 rushing touchdowns, the most against any defense in the Big 12. 

Knott said that a key to victory and an overall improvement on the defensive side of the ball, will be stopping big plays and being on the same page, something they failed to do against Texas on Oct. 18. However, against Texas, Iowa State was able to force three turnovers including a

51-yard fumble return for a touchdown from linebacker Jevohn Miller. 

“We created a few turnovers and scored a touchdown on defense and that’s huge,” Knott said.