Iowa State safety Lawrence White talks about how big his team’s defensive stop in the fourth quarter was.
Tommy Birch, email@example.com
AMES, Ia. — Last year, in a 24-10 loss to Texas in Austin, Iowa State’s offensive and defensive lines got pretty handily outplayed. The Longhorns’ athleticism and power in the trenches just proved to be too much, as they sacked Brock Purdy five times and piled up 225 rushing yards against the Cyclones.
It was a whole different story Saturday.
In their 23-21 win over Texas, Iowa State’s offensive and defensive lines set the tone early, protecting Purdy and dominating the Longhorns’ ground attack, to help pave the way for Iowa State’s season-best win.
“I thought we did some really good things,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said.
The Cyclones’ offensive line allowed only one sack on their quarterback all night — a 2-yard sack at the start of the second quarter.
What was more impressive, though, and more significant, was the push Iowa State’s big boys consistently got on Texas’ defensive line. Freshman breakout star Breece Hall was the main beneficiary, as he racked up 101 yards on 24 carries to continue his stellar first year in Ames.
On many of his attempts, Hall would run untouched for the first 3 or 4 yards before finally making contact with a Longhorn. The Cyclones’ line was just getting such a good push up front that Hall rarely had to deal with anyone in the backfield.
Saturday’s performance was just another example of how far this once-maligned unit has come, said wide receiver Deshaunte Jones.
“The offensive line, I can’t give enough credit to those guys,” said Jones, who finished with seven catches for 144 yards and a touchdown. “Those guys came a long way. A lot of seniors on that o-line who brought that o-line in and didn’t want to take the doubt of, ‘Oh, the o-line’s not good.’ That fueled them. It motivated them to let everybody know that, ‘Hey, we’re still out here. We can move the ball. We can run the ball. We can move the defensive line.’ You can see it out there, that those guys are playing great this year and I’m proud of those guys for taking that step.”
On the other side of the ball, Iowa State’s defensive line and linebackers were a regular presence in the Longhorns’ backfield. They limited Texas to just 54 rushing yards on 26 attempts, only 2.1 yards per carry.
Mind you, Texas entered Saturday averaging 173 rushing yards per game.
“Defensive line man, I’ve got to give a hat’s off to them,” said Lawrence White, who amassed a team-high 10 tackles in the secondary. “We play a three-down (scheme) and it’s really hard, and they were creating pressure, having the quarterback scramble and get out of the pocket. I feel like we really did a good job for them and I’ve got to give them credit. I feel like we don’t really give them enough credit and know how hard it is to do that with three of them. They really did a good job today.
“Really just locking in and stopping the run. That was a real big emphasis on us this week — just stopping the run and have them throw the ball. I feel like we did a really good job stopping the run and it’s everybody doing their jobs.”
Will McDonald logged a sack. Eyioma Uwazurike and Zach Petersen each chipped in on a tackle for loss.
Campbell said his defense forced Texas to become “one-dimensional” on offense.
“When Texas plays really well, they have the ability to run the football and pass the ball,” he said. “I thought our defensive line and linebackers did a really good job of really taking advantage of some opportunities to be successful against the running game.”
Kansas, the Cyclones’ opponent next week, averages 142.3 rushing yards per game. Kansas State, who Iowa State closes the regular season against Nov. 30, averaged 191.1 rushing yards per game.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.
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Source: Des Moines Register