Football

NOTEBOOK: On missing Mike Rose (and him possibly being back for Texas) and more

Iowa State Cyclones linebacker Mike Rose and Iowa State defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike takes down Kansas’ wide receiver Torry Locklin during the first quarter at Jack Trice Stadium Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Ames, Iowa.© Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA TODAY NETWORK 

AMES — Iowa State All-American linebacker Mike Rose shines as an elite tackler.

 He’s elite in coverage, too.

 He’s superb in terms of football savvy as well as instincts.

 Suffice it to say, then, that his absence in last Saturday’s 38-31 upset loss at West Virginia helped explain how the Cyclones’ defense gave up season highs in points and yards (492) — and both by wide margins.

 But will the reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year be healthy enough to play this Saturday against Texas after seeing his 45-game start streak snapped in Morgantown? The answer, unfortunately, is a mere maybe at this point, but optimism accompanies the uncertainty.

 “I really think Mike was in a lot better spot on Sunday and Monday than where he was last week,” Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell said during Tuesday’s news conference. “He got really close to playing in the game on Saturday. He worked hard to get himself back. Anything can happen between now and Saturday but he’s certainly trending toward being ready to go for this coming Saturday.”

 Anything can happen could be the title of this season — or most any other — for Iowa State (5-3, 3-2), which seeks to beat the Longhorns (4-4, 2-3) for an unprecedented third straight time at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (FS1) in Jack Trice Stadium.

 So it’s vitally important that optimism for Rose’s return begins to outpace any lingering uncertainty. The defense seemed disjointed with him on the sidelines, but that doesn’t mean it was all bad — in spite of the loss as well as the Mountaineers’ gaudy offensive numbers.

 “I’d love to sit here and say there’s no difference without Mike Rose,” Campbell said. “I think we’d be naive to say that, too. I would also be naive to say (backup linebacker) Aric Horne didn’t play really well because I think (he) played really well — played over 70 snaps and really played good football for us. I think when you lose a guy like Mike out there, you’re also losing communication. You’re also losing leadership. It forces other guys to pick up the pick up the luggage a little bit. It forces Jake Hummel to go play the best game of his career. And he did. It forces Greg Eisworth to be elite in elite moments. It forces Enyi Uwazurike to play his best game. So I think anytime those things are going to happen — because they’re going to happen, and nobody feels sorry for us. We don’t feel sorry for ourselves.”

 So with or without Rose, the Cyclones simply need to play better. Considerably better — in all three phases, but especially on defense.

 “It’s got to be the next guy up, but I do think when you lose a leader of that magnitude, the other leaders have to pick up a little bit of the rope that’s left,” Campbell said. “I think some guys did and did a really great job of it. I think Aric Horne stepped in and did some great things, but … Mike Rose — Mike Rose has been a staple in our football program for a long time. And we are a better team with Mike Rose than we are without him, for sure.”

 JARED RUS INJURY UPDATE

 Jared Rus, ISU’s dirty work-driven hybrid full back, suffered a “nasty cut” to his hand on the Cyclones’ first offensive play Saturday in Morgantown and did not return.

 He was obviously missed because of his blocking and pass coaching abilities, but Campbell is hopeful he’ll be back against Texas.

 “It’s not anything that I think is going to keep him out for an extended period of time,” Campbell said. “We certainly hope to see Jared back in the lineup again this weekend.”

SARK’S SCHEMES

 Campbell said there’s one thing that’s impressed him the most about Texas first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian’s acumen as an offensive coach.

 What is that?

 “I think one thing he’s got this great ability to do is get the ball to his playmakers,” Campbell said. “I think great coaches have the ability to put their playmakers in a great position to have success. I think you look at what he did in Alabama. I think you look it certainly what he did in National Football League and what he’s done as a head football coach prior to, I think those are things that certainly have been his strength. (It’s being) able to get his playmakers —his ‘A’ players — the football in a position for them to make major impact in the football game.”

 The Longhorns feature plenty of those — namely quarterback Casey Thompson, running back Bijan Robinson and receiver Xavier Worthy.

“Sometimes as a coach, you call those guys erasers,” Campbell said when asked about Worth in particular. “You can have two or three guys there to make the play and those elite players have  the ability to erase those other players. There are some of those (erasers) on this Texas team in a lot of areas. For us, it goes back to precision and detail. We’re going to have to be as detail oriented as we’ve been to be able to have success and play the type of football game that we need to play to be able to win the game.”

QUOTABLE

 “It’s a really big honor. We lost (at West Virginia), so it kind of took the luster off of it, but it is a really big honor. I’m incredibly grateful. I know this recognition is for me, but there are a lot of people around me who have helped me.” — ISU All-American tight end Charlie Kolar on being a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is colloquially knows as the “Academic Heisman”