One of the problems with the Iowa State defense was getting penetration into the opponent's backfield. In the spring game at least, the defensive line looked much better in this aspect. It made several tackles in the opponent's backfield but still also needs to improve before this fall because it will face some outstanding offensive lines in the Big 12. Redshirt freshman Roosevelt Maggitt was an example of this with a sack and two tackles for loss.
Coach Paul Rhoads talked early in the spring about needing to improve a lot on tackling from last season and that all starts with the linebacking corps. Fred Garrin had a solid game and Josh Raven played on both defense, having a sack and 11 tackles combined. Jesse Smith also stepped up with an interception that he promptly took to the house for a touchdown.
Despite not having Leonard Johnson for most of the game, the Cyclone secondary improved in a couple of ways. It did a much better job of tackling, including Kennard Banks and James Smith leading the team in tackles. It also looked more aggressive in coverage, with Michael O'Connell and Banks both picking off passes for their respective teams and made nice returns after that. There is room to improve, though, especially with the passing offenses that Iowa State will see in the Big 12.
Grant Mahoney looked solid with three no-doubter field goals from inside 40 yards. Mike Brandtner had placed two nice punts inside the 20 and the Cardinal special teams blocked a Zach Guyer field goal. Guyer struggled a bit with that blocked field goal and a missed extra point.