Jan 2, 2021; Glendale, AZ, USA; Iowa State Cyclones linebacker Mike Rose (23) intercepts an Oregon Ducks pass in the second half at the 50th PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Network
Iowa State defensive coordinator Jon Heacock finally settled on one word to describe All-American linebacker Mike Rose: “Unique.”
Then, the Cyclones’ veteran coach elaborated.
“(It’s) because he can play SAM, he can play MIKE, different than a lot of the guys that I’ve coached in that aspect,” Heacock said Friday afternoon. “I don’t think there’s any of the three linebacker spots that he can’t play and I think that’s a tribute to him.”
Rose — who, of course, held just one FBS offer (Ball State) before ISU swooped in late in 2017 — has became one of the most ardent and productive standard-bearers for the Cyclones’ stingy defense.
Nothing came easy for him. Nothing comes easy now. And that suits him just fine.
Rose has started every official game of his Cyclone career. That’s 38 in a row, entering ISU’s Sept. 4 season opener against Northern Iowa. So, yeah, “unique” is an apt description of him — but wait, there’s more.
“He’s been blessed,” Heacock said. “At first, I think it was a struggle to move out into space and play. Now he’s out in space, and can drop in coverage, can rush the quarterback, can do a lot of different things.”
And Rose isn’t just making tackles from sideline to sideline. He snared five interceptions last season — an ISU record for a linebacker and the best nationally at his position. From hard hits to ball skills, Rose’s uniqueness hinges on his willingness to try — and learn — just about anything.
“I think he (was) forced to go do something that maybe you’re not sure that you could — and then he adopted the concept of, ‘Hey, I’m gonna go be the best at this I can be,’ Heacock said. “I think that’s really helped him in all aspects of his game. Being able to play in space is not an easy thing. It’s not natural for middle linebackers to play in space and he’s a guy that can go do that.”
A COACH TOM MANNING TERM, DEFINED
ISU quarterbacks coach Joel Gordon and his playcaller, Brock Purdy both referenced something offensive coordinator Tom Manning has called “competitive endurance” during Wednesday’s interviews.
What is that exactly, coach?
“(It) can be defined a lot of ways,” Manning said. “We’re just, from our end, we’re talking about the ability to compete with yourself and compete with your opponent for a long period of time. … You can break it down into small days, or hour-by-hour, but just having the ability to focus and mantain, and keep a clarity about what your objective is — and having a poise about yourself that you can do it and be able to last the long haul.”
Purdy helped define Manning’s term even more.
“Doing the little things right, over and over,” the Cyclones’ record-setting quarterback said. “Being consistent in our daily habits and obviously when we’re out on the field in practice. And, again, the past couple years, we’ve had these practices in fall camp where you’re not, you’re not good, you’re good. So competitive endurance is being consistent throughout all these days. Doing the right things. Are you studying the right way? Are you up there just watching film, or are you actually looking at what you need to be watching? Are you going to the weight room on time? Are you late? Are you sleeping in? Are you staying up late? Little things like that, I think that’s what separates us from wins and losses here at Iowa State. Coach (Matt Campbell) always says the margin for error is small and I feel like competitive endurance is literally what we need to be focusing on as an offense, a defense, and the whole team. That’s been our motto so far.”
“If you don’t show up for practice, you’ll be embarrassed. That’s the easiest way I can say it. There’s enough players on both sides that offensively or defensively, the challenge has become real every single day (in terms of) who you go against. It’s a great opportunity for our team. When you get a veteran, senior group that can compete against each other and every single day is a battle? That makes you better.” —Heacock on the Cyclones’ internal competitiveness