Knott, Klein lead deep but young Iowa St defense

Associated Press  |  Last updated August 28, 2012

BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 13: Quarterback Cody Hawkins of the Colorado Buffaloes scrambles and is tackled by Jake Knott and Leonard Johnson of the Iowa State Cyclones at Folsom Field on November 13, 2010 in Boulder, Colorado. Colorado defeated Iowa State 34-14. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
(Eds: Updates.) By LUKE MEREDITH AP Sports Writer Iowa State knows it can rely on Jake Knott and A.J. Klein, one of the best linebacking tandems in the nation. It's the other nine defensive starters who will determine just how far the Cyclones go in 2012. Iowa State has plenty of depth on a defense that got better as last season wore on. But where all those pieces fit around Knott and Klein - first-team All-Big 12 picks who combined for 231 tackles in 2011 - needs to be sorted out with the Cyclones set to open the season Saturday against Tulsa. ''Improved, in a single word,'' Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said when asked to assess his defense. ''You just don't know where you're at until you start lining up against other folks.'' That might not be apparent for weeks. Iowa State (6-7 in 2011) is replacing six starters from a defense that allowed 29.4 points a game last season. Though there are some familiar names in line for starting jobs, the Cyclones will be asking many of them to contribute more than they ever have. Senior nose guard Jake McDonough is the only returning starter on the line and one of three seniors projected to start against the Golden Hurricane (8-5). Roosevelt Maggitt, who is small for an end at 244 pounds, will start on the right edge after missing all but one game because of a knee injury a year ago. Senior Cleyon Laing will play inside next to McDonough, with junior Willie Scott entering his first season as a starter at left end. Iowa State's defense has routinely been a soft spot for the Cyclones against the likes of Texas and Oklahoma and other Big 12 teams. Though the line is a bit uncertain heading into September, the Cyclones will at least have a veteran presence and some intriguing underclassmen in sophomore ends David Irving and Corey Morrissey and sophomore tackle Brandon Jensen. Rhoads said Monday that Iowa State could play as many as a dozen defensive linemen this season. ''These guys are all practicing their tails off, and you practice with the idea that you're going to get in the game and help your football team win. So if you can roll guys out, you're affecting your preparation, you're affecting your morale,'' Rhoads said. ''But we think all of these guys can be productive.'' Cornerback Jeremy Reeves joins junior safety Jacques Washington as the returning starters in a secondary that lost star cornerback Leonard Johnson. Senior Durrell Givins made three starts in 2011 and will get a shot at making at least 12 more at strong safety this season. The Cyclones will give junior Jansen Watson the first crack at right cornerback, with the likes of freshmen Kenneth Lynn and Sam Richardson ready to play in nickel packages and possibly start in the near future. Junior Deon Broomfield is listed as the starting strong side linebacker alongside Knott and Klein. But at 6-foot and just 196 pounds, Broomfield is more of a fifth defensive back set to counter all the passing the Cyclones will see in the Big 12. ''I do know this for a fact. We're a smarter defense. We've coached things a lot less as we've gone through this training camp than we have in the past,'' Rhoads said. Much of that has to do with the presence of Knott and Klein, both seniors and serious candidates for All-America honors. ''Just in case you might make a mistake or something, you know you're got those two guys backing you up,'' Broomfield said.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Best and worst from NBA All-Star Saturday night

WATCH: Klay Thompson can't go home unless he beats Steph Curry in 3-Point contest

Star players are hurting Houston Rockets

Emmitt Smith: Adrian Peterson only current player who could break rushing record

Coach K gets buzzer-beater win over Virginia for his birthday

Baylor approves new measures to deal with sexual assault

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Joe Mauer: Concussions blurred vision, affected hitting

LeBron James says Kevin Love-Celtics trade rumor is false

Michael Jordan gifts Kobe Bryant full set of Air Jordans

Bethune-Cookman football player killed at party

Former UFC heavyweight Kevin Randleman dead at 44

WATCH: Chelsea scores three goals in less than 20 minutes

LaVine, Gordon put on best NBA dunk contest in years

WATCH: Thompson beats teammate Curry in 3-point contest

NFL teams, players hand out awesome Valentines

Earl Campbell ‘disappointed’ in Johnny Manziel, wants to help

Big man Karl-Anthony Towns wins NBA skills challenge

MLB commish: Cubs will host All-Star Game in near future

WATCH: Memphis forward recreates Vince Carter's elbow dunk in game

Bruins forward is goal scoring machine after suspension

Michael Jordan gives Kobe Bryant complete set of Air Jordans

Drake has Kentucky edition of custom ‘OVO’ Air Jordan 8s

QUIZ: Name every NBA All-Star Game MVP

Watch rare footage of Stephen Curry from 2001-02 emerges

Check out this custom camouflage Oregon helmet

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker