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Cyclones' improved defense started with 'Tackling 101'

Iowa State improved it's defense last year in a 7-6 football season compared to its 2-10 campaign in 2008.

Coach Paul Rhodes, talking to reporters at Monday's Big 12 Conference Football media day, had three reasons for improvement. The first was tackling.

"The first time we put pads on that first spring," Rhoads said, "we had to shut practice down for about 15 minutes and go back to tackling 101, and we got their attention, and I think they've improved greatly
as a tackling football team.

"Number two, we had to keep points off the board. You can give up yards. We want to cut down on all those numbers and statistics and rush yardage and pass yardage and all that, but you can give up yards and not give up points and play good defense. We didn't give up a lot of points a year ago, and we turned the ball over with some consistency."

The third area Rhoads mentioned was shoring up ISU's run defense.

"We've got to limit the yards that we give up in the passing game and so on and so forth. And we're going to have to do that week after week with improvement because we are a young group on that side of the
ball."

Rhoads credited defensive coordinator Wally Burnham, saying he "does a fantastic job with those kids, putting them in a position to be successful."
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