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Old 09-20-2012, 09:53 PM  
RustShack RustShack is offline
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Two potential upgrades over Belcher

AMES, Iowa — Iowa State’s program has come to be defined by the fiery, passionate persona of coach Paul Rhoads.

The on-field identity of the Cyclones has been forged by seniors Jake Knott and A.J. Klein, a pair of once-overlooked linebackers who’ve blossomed into one of the top defensive duos in the country.

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The Cyclones are off to their second straight 3-0 start behind a defense that’s been better than most expected. They’re 13th in the nation in scoring defense at 10.7 points allowed per game and they haven’t allowed a touchdown in two weeks — a feat that hasn’t been pulled off at Iowa State since the mid-60s.

The performance of Iowa State’s defense so far has solidified Knott and Klein’s reputation as like-minded program changers.

“Coach Rhoads has been preaching since Day 1 about changing the culture. To be a part of that and to be the foundation of that is huge,” Knott said.

It’s hard to imagine where Iowa State’s once-porous defense would be without Knott and Klein.

Rhoads promised the Cyclones during their first meeting together before the 2009 season that they’d be a winning program right away. It was a bold statement to a team that had lost the final 10 games of the previous season and their coach, Gene Chizik, to a more high-profile job at Auburn.

But Knott and Klein, a pair of lightly recruited kids from the Midwest, helped Iowa State reach that goal immediately.

Knott grew up in suburban Des Moines and was considered a mid-level Division I prospect — though rivals Iowa and Northern Iowa wanted him to play baseball. Klein grew up in Kimberly, Wis., where his choices beyond Iowa State were Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and Wyoming.

They became fast friends after being paired as roommates in the dorms, and each showed enough in fall camp that Rhoads felt comfortable ditching their redshirts and playing them right away.

Knott and Klein played every game as Iowa State beat Minnesota in the Insight Bowl to cap a surprising 7-6 season.

“It was kind of crazy how similar we were when we got here,” Klein said. “Our work ethic is alike. Our communication is alike, and I think that is because we’re humble people. We come from humble beginnings. We weren’t blown up. We were overlooked by a lot of teams and we wanted to prove ourselves.”

It didn’t take long.

The pair earned starting jobs in 2010 and they’ve been swarming the football together ever since.

Knott was second in the Big 12 in tackles and Klein was fifth. Knott also picked off four passes and forced four fumbles, while Klein became the first Iowa State player in 15 years to return interceptions for touchdowns in consecutive weeks.

In 2011, Knott was a first-team All-Big 12 selection with 115 tackles, four more forced fumbles and a pair of picks out of the middle linebacker spot. Klein did him one better with 116 tackles and the Big 12’s co-defensive player of the year award.

“It’s easy to go out there and have a guy that you trust on and off the field playing next to you,” Knott said.

The pair often come off as interchangeable, so much so that Knott said he was confused with Klein while getting a flu shot earlier this week.

Knott and Klein play a similar brand of hard-nosed, physical football, and have developed a connection that makes them better together than apart.

“The understanding of the entire defense, not just a single position, allows us to be a little more active in the passing game. It all comes with film study and just experience,” Klein said. “With our communication and our bond that we’ve developed over the past couple of years, it’s the kind of thing we had to do so we could perform better.”

Their playmaking skills and hard-working mentality has rubbed off on a defense that’s often was on the wrong end of blowouts in the past.

The Cyclones opened the season by allowing 16 points in the first quarter to Tulsa. But Iowa State has only allowed 16 points since then — and Knott’s leaping tip and interception of Iowa’s James Vandenberg with 1:11 left provided the Cyclones with their signature moment thus far.

About the only difference between Knott and Klein is that Knott sports a Mohawk, while Klein has opted for shoulder-length locks.

Other than that, they’re eerily similar and equally successful.

The rest of the Cyclones have followed them.

“I think they just play hard. They’re serious. They like to prepare,” Rhoads said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:54 PM   #2
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Your Iowa St. shit is getting so ****ing old.
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:56 PM   #3
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A tackling dummy is an upgrade over Belcher. Said the same thing in 2010.

I can't believe he fooled anyone but apparently he did.
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:57 PM   #4
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Jake Knott
Position: Linebacker
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 252

Awards and Honors
Preseason All-Big 12 First Team ... Preseason All-Big 12 First Team (media) ... 2012 Butkus Award Watch List ... 2012 Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List ... 2012 Nagurski Award Watch List ... 2012 Nagurski Award Watch List ... 2012 Bednarik Award Watch List ... Co-captain (2011 and 2012) ... Phil Steele’s College Football Preview 2012 first-team All-Big 12 ... 2012 Lindy’s first-team All-Big 12 ... 2012 Athlon Sports first-team All-Big 12 ... USA Today first-team All-Big 12 ... 2011 first-team All-Big 12 (AP) ... 2011 second-team All-Big 12 (coaches) ... 2011 honorable mention All-American (Sports Illustrated) ... 2010 Second-team All-Big 12 (AP, Coaches) ... 2010 Honorable mention Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year (Coaches) ... Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week (Sept. 27, 2010) ... 2010 Al and Dean Knudson Award Recipient (Team’s outstanding defensive player) ... First-team Academic All-Big 12 (2010, 2011) ... Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll (F09, S10, F10) ... Scholar Athlete (2011).

AJ Klein
Position: Linebacker
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 248

Awards and Honors
Preseason All-Big 12 First Team ... Preseason All-Big 12 First Team (media) ... 2012 Butkus Award Watch List ... 2012 Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List ... 2012 Nagurski Award Watch List ... 2012 Nagurski Award Watch List ... 2012 Bednarik Award Watch List ... Phil Steele’s College Football Preview 2012 first-team All-Big 12 and fourth-team All-American ... 2012 Lindy’s preseason first-team All-Big 12 and second-team All-American ... 2012 Athlon Sports preseason first-team All-Big 12 ... USA Today first-team All-Big 12 ... 2011 Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year ... 2011 first-team All-Big 12 (coaches) ... 2011 second-team All-Big 12 (AP) ... Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week (Nov. 21, 2011) ... 2011 Pete Taylor MVP Award ... 2010 Honorable mention All-Big 12 (AP, Coaches) … First-team Academic All-Big 12 (2010, 2011) … Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll (F09, S10, S11, F11) ... Scholar Athlete (2012).
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:57 PM   #5
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I'm not sure how a fiery, passionate player is going to fit in our system.

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Old 09-20-2012, 09:58 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by CJizzles View Post
Your Iowa St. shit is getting so ****ing old.
These two are legit getting drafted though. And arguably the best LB duo in the nation.
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:59 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by DaneMcCloud View Post
A tackling dummy is an upgrade over Belcher. Said the same thing in 2010.

I can't believe he fooled anyone but apparently he did.
He fooled me. I kind of like him. He can be a thumper when used properly. I'm not sure we've done that much, though.

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Old 09-20-2012, 09:59 PM   #8
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I wonder what Nick Reid and Banks Floodman are up to.
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:00 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by FAX View Post
He fooled me. I kind of like him. He can be a thumper when used properly. I'm not sure we've done that much, though.

FAX
He's too slow to cover today's tight ends and he's been a liability in the run game, even with improvements and upgrades to the defensive line.

It's really a shame the Chiefs passed on Daryl Washington in the second round of the 2010 draft. Dude is a beast.
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:02 PM   #10
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This isn't Cyclones Planet, dude.

Maybe these two slapdicks can go to Steele Jantz's won't-get-drafted party.
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:03 PM   #11
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He's too slow to cover today's tight ends and he's been a liability in the run game, even with improvements and upgrades to the defensive line.

It's really a shame the Chiefs passed on Daryl Washington in the second round of the 2010 draft. Dude is a beast.
That's the biggest stab to the heart about the 2010 draft. We hit on a couple of decent players that year, but it could have been so much more if we just didn't go full retard in the 2nd round.
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:04 PM   #12
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Put Cassel at ILB and Belcher at QB. Results probably wouldn't be that much worse than what we have now.
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:05 PM   #13
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It's really a shame the Chiefs passed on Daryl Washington in the second round of the 2010 draft. Dude is a beast.
yup.
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:07 PM   #14
RustShack RustShack is offline
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Jake Knott

2011-
Co-Captain
finished second on the Cyclones with 115 tackles
four forced fumbles
two interceptions
three pass breakups
one fumble recovery
2010-
honorable mention Big12 DPOY
made 130 tackles
broke up five passes
made four interceptions
forced four fumbles

AJ Klein

2011-
Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year
led Iowa State with 116 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss
broke up six passes, had two sacks and grabbed an interception as well
2010-
averaged 9.25 tackles per game, ranking him fifth in the Big 12 in that category
two pick six's
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaneMcCloud View Post
He's too slow to cover today's tight ends and he's been a liability in the run game, even with improvements and upgrades to the defensive line.

It's really a shame the Chiefs passed on Daryl Washington in the second round of the 2010 draft. Dude is a beast.
No, you're right ... he can't cover squat which causes problems. Heck, we have sub packages for every possible down and distance at this point on account of the various limitations of our players across the board.

I wonder why Pioli didn't like Washington? He was a second rounder? I can't remember if we passed on him in the 2nd or if we took someone else. If you would be so kind as to shed some light on that ... we picked high that year, right? Was it McDervish? Was that the year?

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