AMES — When Demond Tucker went down midway through the second quarter of ISU’s 31-17 loss to Iowa on Saturday, everyone could tell the standout nose guard would be out for a while.
But for the rest of the game — and maybe even next week’s pivotal road game at Toledo? Not so much, at least not initially. It’s uncertain in the immediate aftermath of the Cy-Hawk loss if Tucker will be good to go by next Saturday, but at least his friend and teammate Jordan Harris expressed optimism.
"I think he’s doing pretty good," Harris said after the game. "I think we should have him back for next week.”
Should, of course, doesn’t equal "will." And it’s clear the impact Tucker’s presence up front has on the Cyclones’ defense. He had two tackles, one for loss, but he boosts the defense beyond his own raw production. Tucker routinely ties up two offensive lineman and brings pressure up the middle instead of being pushed back.
"We need him out there with us," said defensive end Dale Pierson, who pushed his two-game sacks total to five.
Rhoads said he’ll have to watch video to see how much drop-off occurred after Tucker went down.
“Hard to say,” Rhoads said when asked about what losing Tucker meant Saturday. “Did we lose on of our better defensive players, sure, but I don’t know how Vernell (Trent) and Bobby (Leath) played. A lot of (Iowa’s) offense was outside the tackles in the second half, so I can’t necessarily say that was a big issue. There was some cutback that potentially he could have been a factor in, but hard for me to say without really looking at the tape and knowing how those two guys performed.”
Sam Richardson‘s slick pass to Jauan Wesley resulted in a 29-yard touchdown that put ISU up 17-10 with 1:58 left in the first half. The Cyclones wouldn’t come close to scoring again, but Wesley’s one-handed grab impressed many, including himself.
"It was just a great play made by me," said Wesley, who set single-game career highs in catches (4) and receiving yards (76) and played his first game after being suspended in week one for violating team rules. "Just move on from it.”
Rhoads said Wesley performed Saturday as he did throughout fall camp.
"I saw a guy that played like he did in training camp and that was fun to see," Rhoads said. "Had great training camp. High energy. Great concentration. Improved toughness. Caught the ball well and he did those things tonight."
Allen Lazard finished with seven catches for 71 yards. His career high for catches is eight. … Quenton Bundrage snared his 12th career touchdown catch, which ranks fourth all-time among ISU receivers. … Richardson became the sixth Cyclone play-caller to eclipse the 5,000-yard mark … Running back Trever Ryen recorded his first career catch (53 yards) and first career rushes (4-23 yards).