Notebook: Front-seven formidable; injury updates & more

AMES — Perhaps the most impressive stat from Iowa State’s 38-21 victory over Tulsa on Thursday night was rushing yards allowed. The Golden Hurricane only accounted for 87 of them and there was a reason for that. Iowa State’s front-seven was physical, active and downright dominated the Golden Hurricane.

“If you watch the first play of the game and see what David Irving does to that offensive guard, you’ll see a tone being set and that defensive line helped us establish that,” Paul Rhoads said on Friday afternoon. “We have had active defensive line members but I don’t think we have had the ability to have productive points like David Irving has provided for us.”

These “productive points” that Rhoads alluded to include a scoring system that the coaching staff uses to judge disruptions, pressures and the overall impact that a defensive lineman brings to the table in a specific game.

“David is really producing at that tackle position over the last two games,” Rhoads said. “Rodney Coe showed up. Brandon Jensen is just very steady in there. Nick Kron had the caused fumble and the fumble recoveries. They were an active group in the game.”

And what can you say about senior linebacker Jeremiah George? He was virtually non-existent in Iowa State’s season-opening loss to UNI but on Thursday night, George led Iowa State with 12 tackles while looking like an All-Big 12 caliber linebacker. 

Rhoads noted that a hamstring injury during fall camp hindered George in his preseason preparation.

“In order to practice, he had to remain very tentative and not accelerate hardly at all,” Rhoads said. “In the end, that’s how he played in that game. As he’s gotten back to good health, he’s gotten back to playing fast again. The truth is, there is a lot more upside that he can bring as a player. He can play better than he did last night.”

Injury report

More positives.

Quarterback Sam Richardson and center Tom Farniok entered the Tulsa game was some major questions surrounding their status due to recent injuries. Rhoads said that both men left Tulsa “no worse for wear.”

“He (Farniok) was down in the weight room earlier today and Yancy (McKnight) said that he felt really good,” Rhoads said.

And Richardson?

“On Thursday’s practice Tuesday, he physically was not the guy that he was last night,” Rhoads said. “He had more flexion in his ankle. He had more bend in his knee. He performed a lot better than I saw him on Tuesday and a lot better than I thought he was going to be. He started really gaining that confidence on Sunday, as each day he got a little bit healthier on the practice field.” 

In one additional injury note, Rhoads said that tight end Ernst Brun is getting stronger by the day.

“He will find himself back on the playing field because of that and how he can practice as his strength comes back.”

More quotes from Rhoads’ Friday afternoon media session

On Sam Richardson’s poise…

“I saw it on the sideline. I saw that confidence and poise as the leader of the group. I won’t say it has been a long time coming because the injury has been a big factor in that and him being able to be that guy.

On tight end E.J. Bibbs…

“E.J. has a chance to be a dynamic and explosive player for us.”

On Jeff Woody’s hat trick…

“Jeff Woody is a guy who fully understands his role on this football team. First rushing touchdown of the season and he ended up with three of them. He is north-south. He hit those holes good on those plays and got the production that we needed. He relishes that. The rest of the team he is over coaching guys on the sideline and participating in special teams. When you have a team that is building, you need seniors in those kinds of positions and captains as Jeff is to really show what that kind of role is all about.”

On having a rare Friday night off… 

“It gives me an opportunity not to be missing meetings or thinking about our game. Tonight I can be completely relaxed and just enjoy the high school football game. I say completely relaxed but I will have parental nerves, but I won’t have to worry about Iowa State playing tomorrow.”

On Tad Ecby’s big night…

“There are plays that either target Quenton (Bundrage) or target Tad and the way the defense rolled and so forth, we happened to target Tad a little bit more in this one. He stepped up and was productive in that situation.” 

“I’ve been really pleased with how he has started out the season.”

On wide receiver Jarvis West…

“Fun to see him come along. He had limited snaps as a receiver in the UNI game. Now he is getting more touches. We know what he can do back there as a punt returner and he is going to become more evident in the game plan moving on.”

On young wide receivers P.J. Harris and Dondre Daley…

“For a coach, it’s hard to get a young guy out there and push him out of the nest so to speak and get him more reps when he makes practice field mistakes. But one of the things that you have to live with, with young kids now and then are those kind of mistakes and the growing pain knowledge that comes with that. Every time that these guys get on the field, Daley and Harris, they are making plays right now. Yeah, maybe their grade isn’t as high but they are being productive. That grade is going to go up as we give them more opportunities to be productive. That’s what I have encouraged the offensive staff to do. They are following through with that and that’s why you’ve seen those guys and as the plan goes, they will have an opportunity to be more productive as the year goes along.”

On Aaron Wimberly’s big game…

“Fourteen games between an Iowa State running back rushing for 100 yards. Aaron is a true one-cut guy with explosive speed. He doesn’t dance. He makes his cut and then he goes north or northeast or northwest as fast as he can go. In a lot of two or three yard runs last night, those other ones finally started coming with the 35 and 13 and so forth. Pleased to get that production out of the running back position and no surprise it was him.”