Two big pieces of Iowa State's defense won't be suiting up this spring.
Senior defensive linemen Rodney Coe and David Irving underwent offseason shoulder surgeries to repair lingering injuries suffered during ISU's 3-9 campaign in 2013, Cyclones head coach Paul Rhoads announced Monday.
Coe enters 2014 as the likely starter at three-technique defensive tackle thanks to steady progression last season, while Irving began the year at three-tech but gave way to Coe the last few games with an injury and legal issues. The 6-foot-7 Irving is a candidate to move back to defensive end, where he played his first two years in Ames.
"They're pretty aggressive right now with their rehab and what' they're doing but you can only push a shoulder so far, especial with the way those guys have to punch and use those shoulders," Rhoads said. "We'll be very protective with what they do … no team activity, no physical activity which is very concerning for us because we're very thin at both the tackle and end position."
The genesis of the injuries isn't totally clear, but Coe suffered a shoulder injury against Iowa and was a game-time decision two weeks later against Tulsa, while Irving missed ISU's game against TCU on Nov. 9 with an undisclosed injury then sat out the Nov. 16 trip to Oklahoma days after being arrested for domestic assault with injury (charges have been dropped).
Pierre Aka, Robby Garcia and Vernell Trent will receive snaps at three-tech in lieu of Coe (Devlyn Cousin is the presumptive starter at nose tackle).
Newfound opportunity aside, this stands as a big blow to both Coe and Irving. Coe's combination of size and speed give him NFL potential but he's fundamentally very raw and needs the coaching, while Irving could have used the spring period to find his home on the line.
Coe finished the season with 37 tackles, five tackles for loss and two pass breakups, Irving adding 19 tackles and four sacks.