Jan 2, 2021; Glendale, AZ, USA; Iowa State’s head coach Matt Campbell jumps into the air celebrating with linebacker Mike Rose (23) after his interception during the second half of the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Breen-Arizona Republic Ncaa Football Oregon At Iowa State
Mike Rose’s motor never stops running.
Abundant evidence of that fine-tuned truth has existed throughout the Iowa State All-American linebacker’s three seasons of Big 12 football.
But there’s always room for growth — even for the reigning conference Defensive Player of the Year — as Cyclone linebackers coach Tyson Veidt stressed Wednesday during a conference call with reporters.
“Mike Rose has done a lot for our football program and Mike Rose has a lot to accomplish yet in my opinion and is working every day on things that will make him a better football player for us at his position, and a better leader for us on our defensive side of the ball,” Veidt said. “So I think one of the greatest things with the honor that Mike had of being the Big 12 (Defensive) Player of the Year is he still has a lot more to accomplish. However, the guys that were most excited for him with that award were (fellow starting linebackers) O’Rien Vance and Jake Hummel and all those guys that play with him. They were as excited for Mike as he was. I think, and I would think as you would ask Mike, ‘Gee, is this finality? Is this the end of it — you were Big 12 Player of the Year?’ He would not agree with that, either. He would believe there’s more for him and us, especially as a defense, to accomplish beyond postseason awards or preseason awards.”
Rose led the Big 12 in total tackles last season with 96. He ranked third in solo stops with 54. He tied for the league lead in interceptions with five — the most for a linebacker in ISU history.
So where does he go from here? Back to work, of course, where an already elite set of skills can become even more consistently displayed.
“There’s a few things from start to finish of a play we feel like are really important,” Veidt said of Rose’s continuing development. “And for us, we feel like we need to master those things every step of the way rather than just the majority of the time. … So there’s several things that way. We feel like he’s got a lot of room to grow in the pass rush game and that’s been a point of emphasis for us here as we move into spring.”
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
Veidt said the staff seeks to cultivate both quantity and quality when it comes to the roster and at linebacker, which typically means up to six players or more see time on the field strictly in their positional roles. It’s one of the reasons that unit — and the Cyclones in general — have become more productive and successful throughout the Matt Campbell era and look for more of the same this season.
“Our goal is to play as many guys as we can through the course of every game,” Veidt said. “There have been years here in the last five that we’ve had at times more depth to play with than others, and we feel like this would be one of those years, certainly. A year ago — and you mentioned Aric Horne, Gerry Vaughn, those would have been really four and five as far as the the amount of reps outside of our starting three that helped us on the defensive side. We had a number of guys also help us on the special teams end of things and even, for instance, (starter) Jake Hummel. He didn’t miss a rep on kickoff for us and he didn’t miss a rep on punt for us, so we are asking those guys to do a lot of things for us. … The sixth guy that played in games for us was Dae’Shawn Davis, so we’d like to be at six. There have been times where we’ve been at seven and we feel like we’re really good when we can do that.
“That helps us late in games and it helps us late in the season. In our opinion, the more guys we have to play the better. Naturally, as you all know, a guy that’s a year older is typically better, because he’s been in game experiences before, so we’re going to continue to work with all of our guys, but those guys that are competing for starting positions and competing to play more, maybe as twos coming off of last year’s depth chart, are as important to us as anybody in our program.”
Senior-to-be O’Rien Vance ranked among the top 25 tacklers last season in the Big 12 — and even though his sacks total dipped to one, he remains one of the most important cogs in ISU’s defense.
“O’Rien is a really good player for us,” Veidt said. “Every game is different. Every season is different. … O’Rien has been a good pass rusher for us. He is making an emphasis to work on those things as well here through the offseason. We are collectively as a group. So it’s no secret within what we’re doing the first guys to add in with the defensive line are the linebackers as far as a rush move would go. So it’s important for all of us.”