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AMES — Iowa State’s defensive line looked unstoppable Saturday against Texas.
The line combined for five sacks in the Cyclones’ 30-7 win over the Longhorns.
All five of those sacks came from two players. Will McDonald and Enyi Uwazurike both had 2.5 sacks and both were in the Texas backfield often.
“We just had to go after their line,” said McDonald, who now owns Iowa State’s career sacks record (26.5). “We didn’t do so well last week and we didn’t get any pressure at all. We didn’t do what we needed to do, so we needed to step up as a defensive line to get pressures and sacks.”
What made the performance even more impressive was Iowa State didn’t send many exotic looks or blitzes. The Cyclones sent their normal three-man rush but Texas made the crucial error of trying to block McDonald one-on-one.
“Figuring out who to double team is honestly a problem our defense presents right now,” McDonald said. “I don’t know how teams are going to try and figure it out, but they’re going to have to try and stop one of us and then it’ll depend on the other person to get back there.”
McDonald and Uwazurike might’ve been the only ones to get sacks, but the rest of the line played well, too.
Returning from injury, defensive tackle J.R. Singleton forced a Bijan Robinson fumble that was recovered by linebacker Jake Hummel. Zach Petersen had three tackles. Blake Peterson had two tackles, as did Tyler Onyedim.
“I think our D-line has played to a standard of excellence all year,” Campbell said. “I think Enyi has been phenomenal. He was incredible again tonight. Isaiah Lee is playing great football for this team. He was incredible for us tonight. We just talked about Will and he was huge for us.”
Young Cyclones getting time
What would Iowa State fans have said if you told them a decade ago that the Cyclones would play their backups in an easy win against Texas?
That was the reality Saturday. Campbell started playing guys lower down on the depth chart midway through the fourth quarter.
True freshman Deon Silas was in at running back, Peterson and Onyedim played a lot of snaps in the fourth quarter and walk-on linebacker Kendall Jackson got significant playing time.
“What’s really rewarding for me is yes, some of our ‘A’ players played ‘A’ football,” Campbell said. “But man, a guy like Blake Petersen, who has been a warrior in trying to get better. He was in on some critical moments and played phenomenal for us. Kendall Jackson is a young man that walked on here and has been a really good special teams player for us. He played some meaningful snaps tonight and played really well at Will linebacker.”
Iowa State injury report
After missing last week’s game due to injury, linebacker Mike Rose returned to the lineup. He didn’t play as much as he normally does, but he still had five tackles.
“Yeah, I think Mike’s doing good,” Campbell said. “We were being cautious and bringing him back slowly. It was huge for him to get through the game and feel good. I think he’ll continue to progress.”
Right tackle Derek Schweiger went out with an injury, but he was able to return later in the game and Campbell said that Schweiger will be good to go moving forward.