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Iowa State Daily

Royston: Iowa State’s offense is going to light it up next season

Jacob Rice
Freshman quarterback Rocco Becht hugs senior offensive lineman Jake Remsburg after a 36-26 loss to Memphis in the 2023 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, Dec. 29. 2023.

As each position group steps into the spotlight, additional focal points are orbiting around the primary emphasis of the spring football season: airing the ball out.

Quarterback Rocco Becht is on board with the deep balls, the running game is aware of its role in helping the passing game, the tight ends know how integral they are and the offensive line room knows the importance of keeping Becht upright.

With how successful the passing game was last season, that combined game plan is not a bad idea.

With the main point of the upcoming season being emphasizing deep balls, how can you not be excited? There is nothing more exciting than deep passes, and Iowa State proved last season it can find success by airing the ball out.

Going forward, the game plan will be simple. More passes, more deep balls and more big plays.

“That’s the plan,” Becht said.

Although Becht was slightly off at times, he connected on more than one occasion and kept the ball safe whenever he let it fly.

Going into the next season, the offense retained nearly everyone. Becht is coming back. The two-star wide receivers Jaylin Noel and Jayden Higgins are returning, along with breakout freshman tight end Benjamin Brahmer. The offensive line is also retaining all of its starters.

That lack of turnover is huge for an offense that found its identity throughout last season and expects to bring back the same mentality. The only difference going into the upcoming season is the turnover of the coaching staff.

With Nate Scheelhaase moving on to the NFL, Taylor Mouser took over as offensive coordinator. Mouser may be the perfect fit, as we saw a young coach move from a positional role to the head role and succeed one season before.

Mouser has been with the Cyclones forever, and he had the chance to learn under Scheelhaase and see what worked and didn’t. That being said, I’m not worried.

Along with that, Mouser sounds confident, and the team is already buying into the new system.

“I think we probably thought we were gonna be something, and we learned through the season how we were gonna score and win games and rush the football,” Mouser said. “Like I talked about the spring ball piece, coming out of an identity in spring, fall camp, that we know how to move the football and what our answers are.”

With Mouser and Becht confident in the offensive game plan, the biggest blockade comes in the offensive line. I am a big proponent of the idea that games are won and lost in the trenches.

Without a solid offensive line, it does not matter how good your game plan is—it will fall apart. Adding Ryan Clanton as offensive line coach last season was a good start in building up an aggressive and violent offensive line.

Clanton instilled a mindset in the room that was evident throughout all the offensive linemen: Play violently every single rep.

Although that was not extremely evident in the run game, as it struggled to find its footing throughout the entire 2023 season, the passing game was another beast.

Iowa State’s pass protection was among the top in the nation, as Becht stayed upright more than any other quarterback. Becht had ample time in the pocket, which will be necessary if the new game plan involves waiting for long plays to draw out.

With Clanton going into year two, the mentality remains the same. Be violent and protect the quarterback. That said, it is apparent that the players are buying in even more as the spring season rolls on.

“Pass protection is a mentality,” Clanton said.

With all the pieces aligning and the expectations at an all-time high, there is a worry that the young team may not live up to the lofty goals they’ve set. However, I believe we are all in for a treat when the 2024 season starts.

“We have high expectations, and we know we can do better than last year,” Becht said.

Just listening to the team talk about the upcoming season and seeing the confidence exude in every sentence and the way they carry themselves, I have no doubt that next season will be a fun one to watch.

With the Cyclones hanging their hat on defense in the past few seasons, we could see a shift to an offensive-focused mindset. With the Big 12 open for the taking, the Cyclones look ready to come out firing from the jump.

Can the Cyclones really live up to the high expectations? One thing is for sure—they are trending in the right direction in the spring season.

“Our team is more than ready,” James Neal said.

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