Oklahoma State football: Iowa State linebackers pose a problem
Iowa State is a different sort of Big 12 team. A throwback team. When you think of Iowa State, you think of linebackers. I know, that’s crazy talk. Like it’s not 1972 or something. But Jake Knott and A.J. Klein are the face of Cyclone football. Both were first-team all-Big 12 last season. Knott is a senior from Waukee, Iowa, and Klein is a senior from Kimberly, Wisc.
Knott has 10 career takeaways (eight interceptions, two fumble recoveries). He’s forced nine fumbles. Klein has seven career takeaways (five picks, two fumble recoveries) and holds the NCAA record for interceptions returned for TDs by a linebacker, with four.
“They may have the best crew inside as anybody we have in our league,” Mike Gundy said Monday. “Their experience and maturity is so important.”
Iowa State plays throwback football. The Cyclones gave up 23 points to Tulsa, six to Iowa, 24 to Texas Tech, 23 to TCU and 27 to Kansas State. In this century, that’s good defense.
Last year, Iowa State gave up 20 to Connecticut, seven to Texas Tech, 10 to Kansas, 24 to OSU in regulation and 26 to OU.
“In our opinion, they’re not real complex,” Gundy said. “They play sound, they understand gap control, they keep things in front of them. They limit big plays. They force offenses to have 7-, 9- 11-play drives. It’s almost as if they’re saying, ‘you’ll mess something up.’”
The two linebackers, Gundy said, are “deceivingly fast. They take good angles. They spot drop well in the passing game. They pick up crossers underneath. They don’t give up big plays.”
Klein and Knott pose a big problem for OSU on Saturday, particularly if Wes Lunt doesn’t play. If the Cowboys have to stay with more conventional run and throw-it-short offense, OSU could be in trouble.
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