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Iowa State Daily

Iowa State’s growing offense is ready for tough road ahead

Daniel Jacobi II
Iowa State’s Jayden Higgins celebrates a first down during the first half of the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series football game against Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.

Iowa State is coming off a 20-13 loss to Iowa with its head held high.

Although the Cy-Hawk loss is not ideal, it was part of the growing process. The team realized what it needed to work on going forward.

The biggest takeaway the team had was that the offense and the defense had to work together as one unit. Overall success could not come from just one side of the ball having a good game.

“I feel like what I take out from this past game was emphasizing team,” linebacker Jacob Ellis said.

In order to emphasize the team, the defense is playing a larger role in making the offense’s life easier.

The best way to do so is to give the offense chances. The defense knows the importance of getting the offense on the field. Whether it is through stops or turnovers, the defense knows its job in nurturing the growing offense.

“Being able to get the offense back on the field, that’s how you put points back on the board,” Ellis said.

The team as a whole has continued to put its trust in quarterback Rocco Becht. Becht led a few successful drives against the Hawkeyes, including a touchdown drive late in the game to give the Cyclones life.

Although Becht threw a pick-six during the game, he showed off the same efficiency and poise as he did in the win over Northern Iowa. Cleaning up the errors will be necessary as Big 12 play rolls around, but it is clear that Becht is continuing to gain confidence.

“I definitely see a lot of confidence growth,” tight end Easton Dean said. “At first it was kinda like he was just feeling it out. He’s really stepped up and moved people forward and pushed this offense to be better.”

As Becht continues to gain confidence, the offense as a whole will grow. Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell made it clear that with how young the team is, the growth on the offense is expected. It will also be crucial to protect Becht so the entire offense can continue to grow.

“One of the things for any young quarterback [is] how do you help that quarterback? You know, cushion his growth process,” Campbell said. “Number one is protect him.”

The Cyclones did a great job revamping their offensive line with the pickup of Ryan Clanton as offensive line coach. Clanton came from UNI and has experience creating dominant offensive linemen.

The mindset that Clanton has already instilled in the young offensive line is a good sign of the way the team is headed. Everyone on the line is buying into Clanton’s message of physicality and violence on the line.

“From an offensive line standpoint, it’s just making people fear us,” offensive lineman Jarrod Hufford said.

That violence on the line should help the line keep Becht protected in the pocket. So far through two games, Becht has not been sacked.

Along with keeping Becht safe, the line is also focusing on improving the run game. The biggest thing they are working on as the weeks roll on is creating holes for the running backs to run through and better defining and widening the gaps.

“[The goal is] putting bodies on the ground, really having people feel what we’re about,” Hufford said.

Becht’s success on the field has earned him the starting role, and as long as he continues to find success, he will keep that role. Although there were times when he struggled to move the offense against Iowa, Campbell made it clear that he has been more comfortable on the field.

“I think the thing we’re excited about Rocco is you feel like he’s really gotten himself into a pretty good rhythm so far,” Campbell said.

Whatever the offense ends up growing into, it is clear that the team sees big things across the board. The Iowa game lit a fire under the Cyclones, and now they want to go out and compete.

As Big 12 play rolls around, the Cyclones will have to get used to tough matchups every single week. However, they are ready to get to work and fight on every snap.

“Just keep fighting; don’t look at the clock or the scoreboard, and good things will happen,” Ellis said.

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    Larry | Sep 14, 2023 at 7:57 am

    Hard to recover when you stink up the place.