A year after Iowa State led the Big 12 Conference in scoring defense, rushing defense, passing defense and total defense, the Cyclone defensive unit is again proving to be a formidable unit. The Cyclones rank among the league’s top-four in scoring defense (fourth), total defense (first), rushing defense (second) and passing defense (third). The Cyclones are trying to become the first league team to lead the league in total defense in back-to-back seasons since TCU (2017-19). All this despite losing the Big 12’s sack leader and No. 15 pick in the NFL Draft, starting nose guard, two starting linebackers and a safety that was also drafted. The Cyclone defense is so stout that in the last two seasons, it would have lost just one game when the offense scored at least 21 points.
This season, Iowa State has 13 interceptions, which ranks second in the Big 12 and fifth nationally. ISU is 14th nationally and first in the Big 12 in team pass efficiency defense.
Individually, the Cyclones are starting a true freshman linebacker and four others that are sophomores but Heacock has navigated that and his unit consistently puts ISU in a position to win.
Safety Jeremiah Cooper is second nationally in interceptions and eighth in passes defended.