Expect More 4-3 in Week 2
From the time Iowa State kicked off fall camp in early August and showed a 3-4 look during its open practice through the weeks that followed, the general consensus was that the Cyclones would have a new-look unit in more ways than with just new faces.
Those rumblings held true in Iowa State's season-opener Saturday as the unit exclusively ran a 3-4 scheme in the 31-7 win against Northern Iowa. While Iowa State is likely to use that 3-4 look more often than not in 2015, especially against the spread offenses in the Big 12, the defense has not done away with the 4-3 scheme.
"We’ve got both in the package," coach Paul Rhoads said. "You go against a University of Iowa [team] that you know loves to run it and [does] play action and has the big people and the physical people at tight end, you’re looking to be more 4-man front against Iowa than you were against Northern Iowa who is more of a spread and fast tempo."
The 3-4 scheme led to six sacks in the season-opener alone after Iowa State had all of 15 during the entirety of 2014. Now the defense will work to adjust back to the 4-3 against a power-oriented Iowa offense.
"You’re not going to survive in a 3-man front against that kind of offense," Rhoads said. "You’ll see both varieties on Saturday and the 3-man stuff you’ll see matched up as we deem necessary whether it be down and distances or personnel situations. The same will be true for the 4-man front."
'Good Chance' Burton Returns
Starting guard Daniel Burton didn't start or dress for Iowa State's season-opener as he deals with knee issues, but there is hope from the Cyclones that he could return in time for Saturday's rivalry game.
Burton, who is second on the team with 20 career starts, is listed with Oni Omoile as a potential starter for Saturday's game against Iowa. First, the team needs to see improved health in the days ahead.
[I want to see him] be able to support that knee and drive on it and plant on it," Rhoads said. "When you're having to push against another 300-pounder, we want to make sure he’s at that kind of strength. He’s close. We’ll match him up against physical bodies and see if he’s there. We believe he’s got a good chance to be ready Saturday."
Key Matchup? The Trenches
There will undoubtedly be several matchups to watch Saturday, but there is one group with some added focus.
"I think you’ve got to look at the trenches, especially in this game," Rhoads said. "Iowa has always been so strong on the offensive and defensive lines and they are again this year. We looked improved on our defensive front [and are] still building with that offensive front. I’m keeping my eyes close to the line of scrimmage."
One matchup to watch in particular will be Iowa State left tackle Jake Campos against Iowa defensive end Drew Ott.