By Rob Gray
AMES — He’s described as long, athletic and quick.
Iowa State defensive tackle David Irving’s a tad lacking in that trench-tested trait — for now.
“That might be what’s holding him back,” Cyclone defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said of the 6-7, 272-pound converted defensive end. “But he is, he’s getting tougher. He’s responding to that type of play now. Probably moving inside where you get banged around every snap by two people, just about every play, will either make you tough or make you run. He’s responded.”
Irving, a junior, totaled five tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and pass breakup in last Saturday’s 27-21 loss to Iowa.
The sum of those parts provided ISU with its best four-quarter, all-around performance, statistically speaking, by an interior D-lineman since Jake McDonough notched seven tackles and two sacks in last season’s 37-23 upset of TCU.
That was 10 games ago — and Irving’s effort proved more wide-ranging in terms of production, spurring hopes that the defense can not only keep the Cyclones (0-2) in games, but help turn them as the focus falls on Thursday’s matchup with Tulsa.
“Definitely a playmaker emerged on a more consistent basis,” said ISU coach Paul Rhoads, whose team is in the midst of its second bye week. “He started out (Tuesday’s) practice — (defensive end) Cory Morrissey made a great play on a ball, he batted it and David intercepted it and ended up in the end zone. Sometimes those things snowball like that.”
Irving’s started just two games, so he’s green at the position, if not yet mean to his core.
“I’m a very clean player,” Irving said when asked about some of the, ahem, jabs, pokes and scrapes that occur in a pile of bodies entwined at the line of scrimmage.
So make that green, clean and working on being mean.
That can be a tricky proposition when being long, athletic and quick count as calling-card attributes.
Just have to be smart about it, Irving said.
Think lean protein and fruits and veggies, not ice cream and donuts.
“I feel like I’ve been doing a pretty good job so far,” said Irving, who maxed out at 287 pounds last season. “Weight’s picking up not as fast as I would like, but I feel like it’s good weight, not just piling on junk.”
Spoken like a guy who plays near Morrissey, the team’s resident clean eater, who nearly matched Irving’s array of big numbers in the loss to the Hawkeyes.
Morrissey had six tackles, with one for loss, plus a fumble recovery — and the latter came because Irving forced it.
“Cory is a 100 percent guy every snap,” Burnham said.
That helps build a sideline-to-sideline snowball.
And if it keeps rolling, good things, team-wide, may start happening.
“At end I was on the edge of everything,” said Irving, who made the defense’s highlight reel play in that TCU win by batting up a pass, grabbing it and scoring a touchdown. “Now I’m within reach of everything, I feel like.”
Comments are closed.