Iowa State’s offense seeks to make stronger connections, throw more deep balls in 2024

Dec 29, 2023; Memphis, TN, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Rocco Becht (3) reacts during the second half against the Memphis Tigers at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

AMES — Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht’s on his second offensive coordinator in as many seasons. 

 The 6-1, 205-pound sophomore ran plays called by Nate Scheelhaase last season, and will fulfill the same role for new Cyclone offensive coordinator Taylor Mouser

 Scheelhaase moved on to join the Los Angeles Rams staff in the offseason. Mouser coached ISU’s tight ends last season and now — like Scheelhaase in 2023 — is a first-time offensive coordinator promoted from within head coach Matt Campbell’s program.

 “What I want from (Mouser) is to be him,” said Becht, who earned Big 12 offensive freshman of the year honors while helping the Cyclones win seven games last season. “To be a good leader. To be a guy who makes connections with everybody on the team and not necessarily just the tight ends. And I know he’s a guy that will speak to everybody, make a connection with everybody.”

 That’s because it’s Mouser’s M.O. He’s played an integral role in building strong relationships on the recruiting trail and within the team’s walls. And he’s ready to lead an offense that improved from 128th to seventh in red zone scoring and features an array of big play threats in both the running and passing games.

 “I want to be able to lean into (the other offensive coaches) for whatever their ideas are,” said Mouser, who will continue to coach the tight ends group. “I’ll listen to whatever is gonna help us score points and win football games. If one of our guys sees something cool on (social media) and sends it to me, if it fits what we’re doing, I’ll run it.”

 In other words, the playbook will remain a living document. It’s not set in stone. The core principles won’t change, but wrinkles in the offense could become deep creases as adjustments are made and creative license blossoms.

 The Cyclones return their top four receivers — Jayden Higgins, Jaylin Noel, Ben Brahmer and Daniel Jackson — along with their leading running back, Abu Sama, so Mouser and Becht will enjoy a full complement of weapons to work with.

 “More passes and more deep balls,” Becht said with a smile. “That’s what we’re looking for.”

  Couple that aim with Sama’s penchant for producing head-turning plays in the running game and ISU could be poised to improve on it’s 26.2 points per game scoring average from last season, which ranked 10th in the then-14-team Big 12.

 “I think for us to come out of spring with (an) identity and for (Becht) to come out of spring really confident in who we are and what our offense is going to look like, and the ways that we can grow, I feel like we can have a big summer,” Mouser said.

 And Becht not only has a new offensive coordinator. He has a new quarterbacks coach, as well. Former Kansas State star Jake Waters ascended into that role, but he already worked closely with Becht during his freshman season while serving the Cyclones in a quality control position.

 “Rocco, just getting kind of thrown into the fire there — just really impressed with what he can do,” Waters said. “He’s grown so much from the first start (against Northern Iowa last season) to now. He’s extremely accurate. Intelligent football player. Growing every single day in everything he does. Super positive. (We) keep talking with him about his process and what is going to take (him) to the next level.”

 That essentially means Becht being Becht. The game never seemed to fast for him last season when he became the starter. Now it’s slowing down to the point that he’s making all the connections he’s seen Mouser make — and plans to make more as spring ball and summer workouts lead into fall camp.

 “We’re moving forward and we’re looking forward to week one,” Becht said.