NOTEBOOK: Morrissey-led sack attack, Sam’s steps and more


 IOWA CITY — The radio crackled, carrying Cy-Hawk news to a young Cory Morrissey.

Iowa State’s star defensive end often watched the Cyclones play Iowa on TV or in person growing up, but when he couldn’t, sounds of the big game had to suffice. 

 “It brought back some memories,” Morrissey said of Saturday’s come-from-behind 20-17 triumph over the Hawkeyes.

 The Ames native used to listen to games and think about hearing his name attached to the guy making the plays.

 Saturday, the senior made that auditory connection on the field, striking for a single-game career-best two sacks while working around top NFL prospect and (hobbled) Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff, who played despite undergoing meniscus surgery earlier in the week.

 Scherff was not 100 percent.

 Morrissey was — and then some.

 “I pretty much did my whole little sack playbook,” he said.

 It led to big things.

 The Cyclones (1-2) recorded as many as four overall sacks — Brandon Jensen and Trent Taylor also took down Hawkeye quarterback Jake Rudock — for the first time since tallying that many in a 2012 win at TCU.

 And they mounted that pressure without rushing more than four defenders once, coach Paul Rhoads said.

 “Those kinds of pressures are a combination of coverage downfield and guys being persistent to try to finish the job,” said Rhoads, whose defense limited Iowa to 275 yards, the least allowed in the series since 2008. “They moved the quarterback in the pocket. (Iowa’s) touchdown drive, (Rudock) made a phenomenal play on fourth down and extended it and it got in the end zone. As the game wore on we started to make a few more plays in those situations.”

 Morrissey also notched a single-game career-high in tackles for loss with three.

 He became the first Cyclone to post two or more sacks in a game since Jake McDonough tallied a pair of them in the aforementioned TCU win.

 “From the beginning I new everybody was dialed in and focused and ready to go,” Morrissey said.


 THE RUN: Linebacker Jevohn Miller led ISU in tackles for the second straight game, but saved one last (soft) hit for the run to the Cy-Hawk trophy.

 “I think I was one of the first ones there,” said Miller, who totaled nine tackles. “I just wanted to hold it. Then I tried to get out of the pack because everyone was swarming there.”

 Share and share alike?

 Right — and that went for trophy touches and singing to the Cyclones’ pocket of fans.

 “The last time we did that was West Virginia (last season),” Miller said of the post-game celebration. “We all wanted to do it. Same thing with the locker room. We wanted to throw the water around and just have a blast.”

 ONE, TWO, THREE BESTS: Rhoads said quarterback Sam Richardson’s had three career-best performances this season, in the all-around sense. Week one was trumped by week two. Saturday stood tall above the previous two. “He’s improving, he’s taking the coaching, he’s going out and working on the fundamentals and making good decisions,” Rhoads said. “Its fun to see his growth.”

 BIG BRETT: Cyclone reserve receiver Brett Medders flashed his playmaking ability in Saturday’s win. The walk-on made three catches for 27 yards. His most clutch grab — a seven-yarder — came on third and five during ISU’s game-winning drive. “He had a big game,” Rhoads said. “Went out and stepped up with guys injured and played well .Caught the ball when  it was thrown to him. … A bunch of guys stepping up.”

 PICK ONE: ISU hadn’t generated a turnover in the first two games of the season. That changed Saturday when safety T.J. Mutcherson picked off Rudock at the Iowa 40-yard line and returned it to the 32. It was Mutcherson’s first career interception and set up the Cyclones’ first touchdown in the third quarter. “Huge boost,” Rhoads said. “We’ve got one turnover in three games. Finally gave our offense a short field to work with and the results were seven points. Touchdown. Huge shot in the arm.”


Rob Gray


Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.

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