DALLAS — Jake Knott is one part of Iowa State's dynamic duo at linebacker, as he and A.J. Klein are the Big 12's top returning tacklers. That was evident when the pair combined for 27 tackles in the Cyclones' upset victory over Oklahoma State last November.
Knott talked to The Oklahoman about that magical night in Ames, playing with Klein and his new offseason hobby.
Q: What did that victory against OSU do for the Iowa State program?
A: “After that game, I think it really settled in with some people on our team that we can play with anybody. A lot of people believed that beforehand, but now you see the proof of it, that's really going to go a long way in allowing us to be able to win those types of games, have a lot more confidence in those types of games. Now, when we're (supposed) to lose by 27, 28 points, it's not going to affect anybody. We're just going to go out there and play.”
What moment do you remember most about that game?
“I tipped a ball at the very end of the game, and that kind of sticks out. I look back, and I see the ball in the lights, and it was, like, almost (a) slow motion kind of a thing. I just got lucky and hit it up in the air. That's probably going to be the one thing that really stuck out.”
How would you describe your coach, Paul Rhoads?
“Very, very passionate. He's definitely a player's coach, and he's going to get the best out of every single player that goes through there. He spends a lot of 1-on-1 time with players and me in film — just stuff that normal head coaches don't necessarily do. He's a very good teacher as well as a coach. He knows so much more than people will realize about the game and about how to teach you. He does so many things behind the scenes for his players to make sure they're comfortable or happy or stuff like that, which is really good.”
What's your relationship like with Klein?
“On the field, we really kind of play off each other, just because we've been around each other so much. We've seen, ‘OK, he's fitting it like that,' on a run play or, ‘He's going to be covering that guy a little closer, so I can back off.' Those little things that you don't get if you haven't played with somebody for a while. Off the field, we hang out. We go do stuff together. We play golf together all the time — I picked up that hobby this summer. Just a bunch of little things like that, I think, really go to pay off in the offseason and then help you throughout the whole season.”