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Green Speed: Looking At Iowa State's Defensive Ends

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AMES, Iowa Much is made of sacks for a defensive front, but the key to getting them resides in another "s" word.

That's speed and Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads sees it from his defensive ends.

"(It's) the number one thing," he said after Tuesday's spring practice. "So much of (the Big 12) and really so much of a national passing game these days is on time. And the sack numbers are never going to be high because the ball's out so quick. But you've still got to get pressure and you do that with speed and push. We've got to get more of that."

It will have to come from a largely inexperienced, athletic, but hobbled group.

Willie Scott's the eldest man off the edge, boasting 13 career starts.

The rest of a youthful group that includes former Gilbert standout Cory Morrissey, West Des Moines Valley alum Nick Kron and out-for-the-spring Californian David Irving?

Zero starts between them, but plenty of confidence throughout.

"This year, the potential is sky high," said Morrissey, who made two tackles for loss as a backup last season. "The sky's the limit. We could really show up this year."

First they must get healthy.

Kron, who notched one of the Cyclones' 15 sacks last season (112th out of 120 teams nationally), is full speed after offseason foot surgery.

"Everyone's making a lot of improvements," Kron said.

Irving a 6-7, 272-pound junior full of promise, played with a tear in his shoulder all last season and is recovering from going under the knife.

Both he and Morrissey competed at less than 100 percent full health in 2012.

Morrissey injured his groin in the season-opening win over Tulsa and the pain ebbed and flowed through the Liberty Bowl rematch loss to the Golden Hurricane.

"With a groin injury, it's tricky," Morrissey said. "You can't even get out of your car without it hurting. ... Now I can just run around and make plays. And like (defensive ends coach Curtis) Bray says, go really hard."

Morrissey's listed as a No. 1 defensive end along with Scott, who was limited early this spring by plantar fasciitis.

Bray said he'd like to rotate as many as five players in at defensive end, but that means speed must not only apply to physical work, but to mental maneuvers, as well.

"That's about as many as you can play, with one guy maybe being a situational guy," Bray said.

Five fast guys.

Thirteen total starts.

Stay tuned?

"We've just got to get constant pressure," Bray said. "Last year I felt like some games we did, some games we totally disappeared. That's what we can't have."

BRUN, BIBBS BACK: Injured tight ends Ernst Brun (concussion-like symptoms) and E.J. Bibbs (shoulder) practiced Tuesday. Brun returned to full contact. "Got banged around," Rhoads said. "Did the banging for the most part." Bibbs wore a blue jersey, but could be a full-go on Thursday. Receiver Tad Ecby remains day-to-day with a hamstring injury.

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