Rhoads thinks defense can overcome its youth by embracing that reality.

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Iowa State has the fewest returning starters of any football team in the Big 12. The Cyclones are also pretty young.

 Accepting that reality, according to Coach Paul Rhoads, is essential to this season’s success.

 “The most important thing for our football team to (allow it to) advance past its youth and inexperience is for them to realize it,” Rhoads said. “Our youth has been apparent on the practice field (during camp).”

 Rhoads believes that owning up to who you are is an important first step for his players.

 “I’ve coached a lot of 4.7 (40-yard times) corners to all-league level because they knew they were 4.7,” Rhoads said. “They took that to mind and played to who they were. That allowed them to play successfully.”

 Rhoads defensive unit, especially, is young. Half of the current depth chart on defense is composed of freshmen and sophomores.

 “I’m glad that I have a defensive coordinator with 50-plus years of experience,” Rhoads said of Wally Burnham. “I am confident that our staff will bring that group along.”

 Rhoads doesn’t mind the youth of his team because he likes its talent and potential.

 It just will take some time to get them fully prepared. Thankfully, the season opener is still a couple of weeks away.