Aggressive defenders breaking up lots of passes in early season

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Through two games, Iowa State defenders have broken up 17 passes. The most-important one was executed by Jake Knott at Iowa last week, which led to an interception and sealed a Cyclone win.

Is the total of 17 passes broken up this year significant, and if so, why is it happening?

·       In 2011, the Cyclones broke up seven passes in their first two games (UNI and Iowa).

·       In 2010, the Cyclones broke up two passes in their first two games (Northern Illinois and Iowa).

·       In 2009, the Cyclones broke up six passes in their first two games (North Dakota State and Iowa).

The total in 2012 is, indeed, significant. It’s record pace for the Cyclones.

“Troy (Douglas) coaches the guys to be aggressive,” Coach Paul Rhoads said in describing why there has been a huge jump. “The players’ confidence level (is higher, too) and that comes from practice.”

Iowa State has recorded more than 40 PBUs (passes broken up) in a season only three times in the last nine years. Two of those came in Rhoads’ first three years as head coach.

“We’re not coaching them to be gamblers, but they do it (make the plays) in a smart fashion and within the scheme of the defense,” Rhoads said.

Whether they can maintain that torrid pace of pass break-ups will be determined in the coming weeks, but the Cyclones are certainly off to a great start.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/SteveMalchow

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