One first time starter showed up all over the field and on the stat sheet on Saturday against Marshall: linebacker Isaiah Bruce.
Why? He’s a smart player, according to the coaching staff, practiced well, and has “tremendous conditioning” said Dana Holgorsen.
The 6-1, 225 pound redshirt freshman finished with a game-high 16 tackles and returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown.
He got the team’s internal defensive champion award and was singled out by the Big 12 as defensive player of the week.
“By no means has he arrived,” said defensive coordinator Joe DeForest. “But he has shown we can count on him. And hopefully he’ll continue to improve each game.”
Consider a few things that were said about Bruce this week:
Holgorsen: "He’s a smart kid. When the referees were in here going over all of the rules he raised his hand three or four times and was asking questions. He’s a smart kid, his conditioning is good, and it was a pleasant surprise, but he, along with everybody else, has a whole lot to work on.”
Why being a smart football player matters:
Keith Patterson: “It has everything to do with it. There’s a lot of kids that are smart that football doesn’t come natural to. Isaiah is such a worker and he has tried to gain an understanding of what we’re doing. I think we’ll start to see it play out,” said Patterson. “I’ve tried to strain him mentally and physically to become a tough mindset linebacker. When they tried to run the Iso out of the end zone he knocked their fullback three yards deep into the backfield, got in on the tackle. I was real pleased with his first performance.”
Holgorsen: "He practiced well in spurts. I didn’t know if he could do it for four quarters, but he did and he has tremendous conditioning. Not everybody looked the same in the fourth quarter as they did in the first quarter, but he looked like he was doing the same stuff consistently for four quarters. Karl Joseph looked the same way, but we need to get some older guys to do that consistently."
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