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Cyclones’ ground game a focus for Colorado defense

November 13, 2009

AMES - Iowa State's bread and butter offensively this season has been the rushing game. The Cyclones have gone over 200 yards as a team six times this season. They haven't failed to eclipse the 100-yard mark in every game this season. Until last week, that is. Oklahoma State stifled the Cyclone rushing attack to the tune of 54 yards last Saturday in Jack Trice Stadium.

This week, in the team's final home game of the season, the Cyclones (5-5, 2-4) will look to become bowl-eligible with a sixth win when they play host to Colorado (3-6, 2-3) and their 72nd-ranked rush defense. ISU ran for 188 yards - with Alexander Robinson and Austen Arnaud accounting for 171 - last season against the Buffaloes. And this year, the Cyclones will play with their run-heavy spread attack.

"They've got a great scheme. They have a quarterback that can run, they have a solid offensive line and their running backs are solid," said Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins. "They can move the pile, they've got guys that can carry it and then when you have a quarterback that can run, it adds another dimension to it.

"Both in scheme and talent and with the pieces they have put together there, they can stick with it and keep getting after it."

The talent was in place for the first time in three weeks against the Cowboys last week, with Arnaud returning from a hand injury. But the junior's return didn't translate into rushing yards or points. In fact, the Cyclones have managed only a single touchdown in each of their last three contests. It came to a head with last week's 54-yard performance.

"It was a lack of execution of the offensive line. We take full responsibility," said center Reggie Stephens, who was tabbed this week to play in the East-West Shrine game this coming January. "When you lose it's easy to point fingers, but we just got to play better, and I think we'll be able to do that this week."

The Cyclones had been ranked first in the Big 12 for most of the season in rushing yards, but have now slipped to third, averaging 186 yards per game on the ground.

"We probably played the poorest game we've played to date. We've got to play more physical, we've got to play more vertical," said ISU offensive line coach Bill Bleil. "We got to give A-Rob more running room."

The Cylones are now down to their final two chances to get their sixth win and become bowl eligible for the first time since the 2005 season.

"Our goal this whole season has been to get to a bowl game, and we still have an opportunity to do that," said Stephens.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon.



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