Defensive Playmakers Step to Forefront

Some familiar names and some not so familiar played a big part in Iowa State's defense gaining the upper hand Monday afternoon. John Skladany's unit pressured the quarterback and got a few sacks, then made some interceptions and pass deflections in the secondary.

Skladany installed more blitzing and pressure Monday, which gave the defense an upper hand over the offense. Steve Paris recorded a pair of sacks on the day, while Tim Tebrink and Nik Moser also got to the quarterback on separate plays. Jamar Buchanan, Rashaad Rasberry and Moser combined for another sack. Moser, who played his best ball of the spring to date, also added a fumble recovery when an Austin Flynn pitch to Michael Wagner went awry.

"They had a good effort today," said Skladany. "In spring practice it seems like one day the offense beats us, then the next day we do alright. It's going to be give and take. Today we played well and had a lot of enthusiasm. Stevie Paris came blitzing in there and Anthony Forrest has been playing really well. Joe Woodley and Jordan Carstens are jumping out.

"Nik Moser is helping us. We moved him up to nickel back, which is kind of an outside backer. He can really run and has the quickness out on the edge. We can also drop him into pass coverage. He can cover some room. If you're really fast and tough, you just have to learn the position."

The secondary also feasted on some ill-advised passes. Anthony Forrest, Marc Timmons David Rahe and Charles Mercer all intercepted passes.

Brickey attributed the lackluster performance to his offense's handling of the pressure.

"Today was the first day they blitzed," he said. "You go over that stuff and practice it, but when it really happens at that speed sometimes it catches guys off guard. I think we'll get better with that. I thought we were pretty good for most of the season last year, with our blitz pick up and protection. It was more just the first day of seeing it."

Waye Terry had the best day of the three competing quarterbacks, with Cris Love struggling to repeat his solid performance from two days ago. Terry's favorite target became Jon Davis, who he teamed up with for a pair of receptions that moved the chains. Love, on the other hand, was picked off twice, one coming off a JaMaine Billups deflection. Love did manage to complete a few nice passes to Jamaul Montgomery near the right sideline.

Austin Flynn added another long scramble that could have gone for a touchdown.

"They all did a couple of good things and a couple not so good," Brickey said. "Waye Terry had a pretty decent day. Love wasn't quite as good today as he had been Saturday. It's going to be an interesting battle. It's going to be a long hard fought battle. We'll see who can make some plays and also not make bad plays."

Although the defense gained the edge on Monday, McCarney gave his team some high marks overall.

"It was a good physical practice," he said. "You can see some guys haven't had much experience, and the other ones that have played are coming ready to practice. When you go ones-ones and twos-twos, one side is going to normally win. You don't come out saying it's even. I thought the defense had the edge today. I thought they ran to the ball well.

"Jordan Carstens picked up right where he left off and is a dominant football player. Joe Woodley has got off to a real good start so far. He's zeroed in playing one position and not rolling around from offense to defense. Plus, our secondary is playing real physical and breaking on the ball. I like Anthony Forrest at corner right now. It's been a real good move. Nik Moser just has to get bigger and stronger. He'll help us right away. He's at 203 pounds right now, and we'd like to get him up to 215 by fall."

Some other standout players included tight end James Wright, offensive lineman Aaron Brant, rush end Cephus Johnson and kickoff returner (yes, kickoff returner) Lane Danielsen.

Wright flattened SAM linebacker Erik Anderson in a one-on-one drill early in workouts, and also played well during high and hard team play. Wright is splitting first-team reps with Kenny Segin in one tight end sets.

"It's so far so good with him," Brickey said of Wright, a JUCO transfer going through his first spring. "We're kind of excited about him. He's really doing well. I don't believe he's dropped a pass yet since he's been here. He's got some talent."

Brant also shined in some one-on-one drills and is getting more opportunities with the first-team offensive line. Johnson made a nice stop on bruising tailback Stevie Hicks.

Danielsen, meanwhile, is making a push to be the Cyclones' starting kickoff return man this fall. He returned a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns by making nice moves. Danielsen and Ellis Hobbs came in for one set, with Lance Young and Todd Miller coming out for another.

On another note, the first-team offensive line went through a brief spell of false starts and drew the ire of McCarney. Brant and Stubbe jumped on consecutive plays. Another mishap occurred when center Luke Vander Sanden didn't snap the ball on time.

Brickey was concerned about the penalties, but still expressed optimism about the offensive front in general.

"We jumped off sides a couple times and the center didn't snap the ball on the cadence one time," he said. "We've got to get that smoothed out a little bit. But I like the looks of that group and potential. I don't think there's any doubt we're going to be better than a year ago, assuming we stay healthy. I'm still encouraged, they just had a little spell where we got out of whack."

ISU returns to the practice field on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., and are expected to conduct a brief scrimmage.


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