Rockets will try to withstand force of Cyclones’ running backWritten by Scott Calhoun | | email@example.com
Led by Stevie Hicks, one of the top 20 running backs in Division I heading into the 2006 season, Iowa State is a strong contender for a Big 12 North Division title and is already on the fringe of breaking into the various Top 25 rankings, with votes already in each.
For UT defensively, the Rockets return linebackers Mike Alston and Michael Chamberlain, defensive backs Tyrrell Herbert and Nigel Morris and have considerable overall experience ready to form the new successful UT defense. They will face a monumental first test Aug. 31 against a Cyclone offense that finished in the top 50 in just about every positive offensive category last year.
“What comes to mind is their performance in the bowl that they had at the end of the year,” Coach Tom Amstutz said. “They are a very dominant team; they have some really outstanding players. They have a couple NFL prospect wide receivers that are really big-play players along with an outstanding tailback. So offensively, they’re a very explosive team. They were in the battle down to the last game of the year to be the winner of their division in the Big 12, where they fell short on the last game of the year. So they’re a really outstanding, elite football team.”
The Rockets will have to find ways to contain the Big 12’s top returning quarterback in Bret Meyer and one of the most talented tailbacks anywhere in Hicks. If Iowa State’s offense gets to the new defensive contingent early on, it could have a lasting effect beyond the end of the fourth quarter. Defensive coordinator Tim Rose and company have a lot of business and player emotion to take care of Thursday night at Ames.
On the other side of the ball, the Cyclones led the Big 12 in takeaways last year, and the greenness of quarterback Clint Cochran and the overall total inexperience of the RB trio in Jalen Parmele, Richard Davis and DaJuane Collins against a bigger, more athletic defense could come into play if the Rockets’ season-opening jitters before a raucous Big 12 crowd give the Cyclones turnover opportunities.