The Texas Longhorns defense spent all week listening to how dynamic the Iowa State Cyclones offense could be.
After four quarters, the Texas defense proved to be the more dangerous unit, stifling the Cyclones offense and leading the Longhorns to a 17-7 win in Ames, improving to 2-2 on the season and beginning Big 12 play at 1-0.
The Longhorns success started in the trenches, as the line found a way to neutralize dynamic Iowa State running back David Montgomery. The sophomore, who is heralded as one of the conference’s most dynamic players, never found his rhythm as Texas controlled the line of scrimmage and closed down holes quickly.
Iowa State all-but abandoned the run as the game went on, and Montgomery finished the game with 34 yards on nine carries, with only three of the nine touches coming in the second half.
Texas was determined to force Iowa State quarterback Jacob Park to beat them with his arm and defensive coordinator Todd Orlando dialed up the pressure by blitzing linebackers regularly and allowing them to key on the quarterback. The Longhorns finished the game with four sacks for a total of 27 yards, bringing their total count to nine sacks.
Perhaps none was more pivotal, and more impressive, than the fourth quarter sack by star linebacker Malik Jefferson. As the Cyclones tried to build momentum late, the offense stayed on the field for a fourth down attempt. Park rolled to his left, and Jefferson flashed his speed and athleticism in the open field, closing the distance and bringing the quarterback down before he could find an open receiver for a loss of 12 to end the drive.
The defensive pressure and dominance at the line forced Park to roll out of the pocket and throw on the move regularly, resulting in overthrown balls and miscommunications between him and his receivers.
Safety DeShon Elliot benefitted from Park’s struggles, as he solidified himself as one of the most vital pieces on the Texas defense. His two interceptions Thursday bring his season total to four, tying Demetrius Monday for the most in the country.
As the season continues and Big 12 play heats up, the defense will need to answer the bell week-in and week-out. The task will only get taller for the defense over the next three weeks, though, as the ‘Horns take on Kansas State next weekend, followed by No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 15 Oklahoma State.