AMES — According to Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads, junior David Irving was moved to defensive tackle because of an increased amount of depth at the defensive end position. Rhoads’ analysis of the position was that guys like Willie Scott and Cory Morrissey had clearly stepped their games up from that of a year ago.
Defensive ends coach Curtis Bray was made available to the media in between Iowa State’s Wednesday practices (two-a-days). Bray said while his group still has plenty of work to do, it’s a group that has real potential.
“It’s a young group but there is depth,” Bray said. “It’s a bunch of guys who haven’t played but they have talent so we just have to bring them along.”
The first guy to point out here is Morrissey, a 6-foot-4, 249-pound junior who recorded seven tackles in nine games last season. Morrissey, a exercise science major, said that he has put on 10-pounds in muscle over the offseason. Bray said that he is doing the little things better during his second fall camp as a Cyclone.
“I would say that knowing our defense and getting the finer things of the position down,” Bray said. “He’s 250 pounds and I don’t think he is done growing. He takes great care of his body. He brings a little bit of pop to the position.”
Then, there is the position’s headliner, senior Willie Scott.
“He’s got to be a little bit more consistent,” said Bray. “He has a tendency to disappear sometimes. He’s got to keep his energy level up and keep playing hard and use his feet a little bit more often than he does.”
Scott recorded 37 tackles as a junior. He has always been undersized but is now up to 242 pounds, according to Iowa State’s latest depth chart.
“When you’re pushing against a 310 tackle the whole game, it wears you down a little bit,” Bray said. “I think that is the part that he has to work on. Honestly, Jason Taylor probably played at 6-4. He was a little taller but he was 235 or 240. You just have to get used to it and have a motor that can take it on.”
Bray said that the ideal number of guys you want to rotate at the defensive end position is five. Without Irving in the mix, Scott and Morrissey are clearly one and two. After that, the names Nick Kron (redshirt sophomore), Mitchell Meyers (redshirt freshman) and Devin Lemke (redshirt sophomore) represent the guys who need to step in to fill that void.
Bray compared Meyers to Cory Morrissey one year ago.
“He can make plays,” Bray said. “He showed that in the spring.”
And Lemke? The Alden native missed spring ball due to injury and has never had much of an opportunity to make his mark on the program.
“He needs to work on his strength,” Bray said. “He is a Rony Nelson type guy who can rush the passer with great speed. He has great athletic ability. He just needs to be more physical at times.”