Summer Series: Sit-down with Iowa State offensive coordinator Taylor Mouser transcript

Cyclone Fanatic publisher Chris Williams had a sit down interview with Iowa State offensive coordinator Taylor Mouser for the new Summer Series doing a deep dive into Iowa State Football.

Here’s a full transcript of the interview.

Chris Williams: I am interested though – I was really happy when you got promoted, not just because I like you and think you’re a good guy, but I one of my favorite parts of the whole Campbell era is how he gives his people opportunities. What does that mean? Like within that staff, when you know you have a shot at something like that.

Taylor Mouser: Yeah, it means everything to me. And my whole thing since I’ve started working with Campbell, was to just pay him back for being the only coach that really gave me a chance to coach football, and whatever opportunity that was, either as a recruiting person or an intern or a GA like – I just wanted to find ways to add value, to pay that guy back for what he’s done and the impact he’s had in my life. Luckily for me, he’s continued to trust me, and every chance that I’ve gotten to be able to pay him back for and just do the best I can for him. And I love our staff, and I love the players, obviously, so they make it really easy.

Williams: You have a really interesting background to getting here. What I’m curious about is when it comes to calling plays, and you know, being an offensive coordinator, at what point in your career or even life, did you know that’s something you wanted to do? Because everybody wants to do different things, right? When you’re a pup in this business, when did you know? When did that click for you?

Mouser: Probably later than sooner. Like, I don’t know if I got into the profession to necessarily work my way up, and had dreams of becoming a head coach and offensive coordinator. That really wasn’t the case. Like, I just, I love being in the locker room. I love being around the kids. I love the developmental piece, where I just stay on the field and work with those guys all day. And that’s what I fell in love with sports and, you know, football and coaching. And as I’ve worked with Coach Campbell, and I’ve worked a lot of really good coaches, I’ve just kind of gravitated and found it to be something that, if I got my chance to do, I think there’s a certain way that I’d like to do it and believe in myself to do it. And we’ve watched a lot of film here, and, you know, Coach Campbell has had a lot of success offensively and the other coaches that we’ve had here. So, you know, you have your way of thinking that you want to do it, and I have mine, certainly. But I would probably say here, in the last couple of years, it’s really been something that I felt like, if I got the chance to do it, I’d love to, and if not, then, you know, I love being the tight ends coach also.

Williams: So – the last couple years, give the fans some insight on what your role has been, other than the tight ends coach, right? Like, I know you guys all have stuff that you’re doing when it comes to game-planning or whatnot. What? What was it under Nate that helps you kind of can’t pull it into this role when he decided to go to the NFL, yeah,

Mouser: I think just probably like how organized in the structure and the process that Nate (Scheelhaase) had day in day out from the time that he became the offensive coordinator, and he did a lot of things that made it easier on us. And there’s a very clear structure, and it was very organized. Everybody knew what their roles were going to be going into the game plan week, going into the game where we were looking where our eyes were, you know, what we were responsible for in the game plan process.

And I think taking that away to just be able to maximize your time, to be able to get through all the film, because we’re so thorough, we watched stuff from years and years back just to try to find the best way to help our kids be successful. He really provided a great structure and a great plan that I’m still going to do. You know, a lot of those things and how good that guy treats people and cares like he’s got a huge heart, and he’s a great guy. So me being able to work with him as a position coach and then him as the offensive coordinator, there was so much that I’ve learned. And really the same thing with with (Tom) Manning before him, and, you know, Joel Gordon and (Alex) Golesh, and the coaches that we’ve had that have been here, that have come and gone. There’s been so many little wrinkles that I can take away from Jason candle, who’s the head coach at Toledo. Derek Sage, who was the offensive coordinator at Nevada last year, was a G.A for us here, Lou Ayeni was here. So you try to just reach out to as many people as you can, to just learn what’s made them successful or where their faults were, too, but working with Nate last year and the coaches we’ve had here – I’ve been really lucky.

Williams: That’s a heck of a network.

Mouser: I’m not trying to name drop or act like I know a bunch of people, because I don’t. I’ve only worked here for Coach Campbell. But yeah, the last couple weeks we were traveling around recruiting, I was able to really-

Williams: When you put them all together, though, it’s like, wow, that’s a lot of guys that have come through here.

Mouser: Yeah, there’s been a lot of guys that have come here, and it’s been really good for me, because I’ve really only got to work with Coach Campbell. So like, the terms of what we use here are what I’m really familiar with, but to be able to learn, you know, what other people are doing schematically, and be able to translate it to what we’re doing and what they’ve gone and learned, and be able to bring it back here. It’s been invaluable.

Williams: My favorite part of football is how it evolves, and then it’ll, like, go back in time a little bit, and then it’ll come back and somebody’s got this new wrinkle, and then that becomes the thing, and everybody wants to copy very trendy. Where are we at right now? Like, with this new league? I guess because, like, forever, the Big 12 was the league that was scoring in the 60s and 70s. Then now, it feels like everybody’s slowed down just a little bit and defenses have changed too, right? And our guy has had a big reason to that, Jon Heacock – he really changed college football and in the NFL, if you think about it. Where do you see this, league out offensively now, being with 16 teams the way it is?

Mouser: Yeah, it’s funny you say that, when we first got here in 2016 we didn’t have any tight ends on the roster, really.

Williams: I remember, like one catch or something like that?

Mouser: Yeah. We played in a lot of 10-personnel that first year, and there wasn’t a lot of tight ends in the conference. And you look at it now, and I’m not going to say that we necessarily made that happen or caused it to happen, but everybody plays in 11, or 12, or even Texas Tech plays in 13-personnel sets. I certainly feel like it’ll be interesting to see what these new teams bring. And there’s just a whole different dynamic and wrinkle in college football now with this headset you know, that you can use now to talk to our guys.

Williams: Great point.

Mouser: You know, how does that slow things down? That was another big thing with us this off-season, and reaching out to people. And I got to go to a couple OTA’s and see how they do it, and talk to those people. There’s a two-minute warning now, so what does that do for the game? I still think it’ll be probably a similar pace to what it has been. I think it’ll be 11 and (12-personnel) based conference with wrinkles of some of the old stuff, with (the spread offense) and 10-personnel and wrinkles of 13 personnel. But it’ll be interesting.

We’re always trying to find ways to stay in front of that curve. Coach Heacock and the impact that he’s had in college football like you said – and in this conference – with us being able to see that defense. And, you know, I think it’s helped us, because our our offensive players understand the defense a lot more than most people. So it’ll be interesting to see what these new teams bring to and the wrinkles that they have with Utah and Colorado, but we’re always going to, you know, play to the strengths of our personnel.

Williams: I honestly, and not to put on any pressure. I feel like the offense might be underrated going into the year.

Mouser: Yeah, I agree.

Williams: Honestly, I think I might have been a part of that, because I think we’ve all been so distracted by everything else in college athletics that people are just kind of getting into football mode a little bit later. But I mean, what a dream for your first coordinator job, right?

Mouser: Yeah, it’s unbelievable.

Williams: You guys are loaded.

Mouser: We’ve got a lot of talent.

Williams: Don’t screw it up.

Mouser: Oh, believe me, I’ve told everybody, and I’ll tell whoever listens to this, we have so much talent on offense. If we’re not good on offense, it’ll be 100% because of me. Our coaches are incredible. Noah Pauley is incredible. Tyler Roehl’s incredible. Ryan Clanton’s incredible and Jake Waters (too). They are some of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with. We have great players at receiver, tight end, our O-line, our quarterback. They check all the boxes. There’s one box that hasn’t been checked yet, and it’s me calling plays. It hasn’t happened. So all you Iowa State people that are listening, I’m very much aware, and if we’re not good, it’ll be my fault.

Williams: I love this. Don’t ever lose this authenticity, this is great.

Mouser: I’m not. I’ll try not to.

Williams: Someday you’re gonna be like a head coach of the Vikings or something.

Mouser: I don’t know about that.

Williams: No, but I was going through this last night. (Brent) Blum and I did a show, and we just said let’s just do a deep dive on the offense. And I do think that there’s an aspect of Iowa State fans that don’t know how good (Jalen) Travis is coming in.

Mouser: He’s an animal.

Williams: And the one who I’m very guilty of – not forgetting about, but – is Eli Green. He committed and there was just a bunch of stuff going on. Pro Football Focus comes out with that rating for this kid, and what does that mean, exactly? I don’t know, but I know that you guys have this track record of cherry picking these wide receivers that you think can take it to the next level, and you’re 100% so far. You’ve got (Xavier Hutchinson) you’ve got (Jayden Higgins) with what he did last year, to me, those seem like the perfect additions to what you already had going forward.

Mouser: Yeah, I think so, too. And they have different skill sets and wrinkles that they can add to (our offense). They give us something. I mean, even (Jaylon Jackson) from Eastern (Michigan) like, what he is and how dynamic that guy is and how fast he is – we’re gonna have to find ways to get these guys the ball. Then we could be really creative, and it’s gonna make us, you know, a multi-dimensional offense that I think can be tough for people to stop, hopefully.

And more than anything, they’re great kids. None of them are here because they want to get theirs necessarily. Like, they want to come here and help us win football games, and they work really hard, and they push the needle every day. So I’m excited to be able to game-plan and find ways to get them the ball.

Williams: The quarterback is – I mean, I don’t know if I’ve seen Iowa State’s quarterback room be this deep. Yeah, it’s young, but it’s easy for people to forget that a year ago, J.J. Kohl was right there with Rocco (Becht) at this time. And then the kid from Southeast Polk (Connor Moberly), I’m obsessed with – I have been for three years since I first saw him as a sophomore. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, Moberly. Like, I I need that kid at Iowa State. How do you analyze this? Because obviously, Rocco’s your guy. But you know, we talk about how loaded you are everywhere else – if a quarterback goes down, how comfortable would you be if you had to put those other two guys in?

Mouser: I’d be really comfortable with those guys. I know those guys don’t leave the facility – they don’t leave the facility. I’m telling you, like J.J. is in there all the time watching film. Him, and I go at it in Connect 4 all the time back there, like the guy doesn’t leave. Moberly is the same way, like those kids work. I know how important it is to play quarterback year for those guys, and just the effort and how much they care. And like, I trust those guys, like they’re talented, the talent obviously speaks for themselves. And the thing you get nervous about as a coach is like, do these guys understand, like, what we’re trying to get out of the play? Do they understand what the reads are? And I think now, with us being able to talk to those guys, like, on the headset, it makes you feel a little bit better, where you can add some of those situational reminders on the headset that some of those young quarterbacks maybe forget or struggle with. You can talk to those guys on the headset now, which is another good tool that I think will make coaches feel better about, if a other quarterback does go in there, you could keep it simple, and you can talk to them, and you can remind them just the little things that sometimes, when the game moves fast, you can slow it down with some of those little tips and situational things.

Williams: It’s got to help them too, I would think, that you speak their language already, as opposed to bringing in some coordinator from Timbuktu, right? Like, to me, like, that was why I loved it the most. I think if, if you guys had two or three returning starters, I would have been like, Oh, okay. But like, it just, it made so much sense, yeah, from that aspect.

Mouser: That’s huge for not just the quarterbacks, but that was a big deal for a lot of our guys. And I want those guys to be able to play confident, and it’s hard to do that when you’re still trying to learn the language and the lingo, even when we have new guys, like, when I was telling Eli, he’s like,, “What do I need to know when I come in?” I’m like, if you just came in and you just knew the formations and you knew exactly where to go and line up, then the rest of the offense will slow down. And I think it’s like that with everybody. When you know everybody’s at and you know what the verbiage is and the plays are, you’re not thinking about stuff, and you can just play football.

Williams: Eli – you said you’re talking about different wrinkles. I haven’t seen him much. For somebody who’s never seen him, what is he as far as a wide receiver goes, because we know a little bit about the other guys – I’m obsessed with Beni (Ngoyi), he showed us a little bit what he could do in the bowl game, which was a big time catch. What does Eli (Green) bring to the table?

Mouser: Yeah, I think Eli is a guy that you probably can’t find enough ways to get the ball in his hands – like he could put him in the backfield. He’s a guy that can play slot and stretch the field and run crosses… I think he could be a guy that you put as a single into the boundary and let him go win 1-on-1 and be a single out there to the field. And obviously, if you’re a North Dakota State receiver, you have some grit to you. So he’s a guy that can go in there and dig out nickels, block safeties, block corners, and a guy that we can be really creative with where he’s at on the field and throw screens too, and you know, like we do with (wideout Jaylin Noel) and (tight end Ben Brahmer) and some of those other guys. So I think the sky’s the limit for what that guy can be. But I just love the effort that he plays with and he blocks with. It just shows that he really cares about the big picture.

Williams: I mentioned, I like your guys’s track record when it comes to bringing in these wide receivers and them turning into stars, because there’s a track record. The other thing I’m really comfortable about with Iowa State football is running backs – young running backs. So we’ve seen a lot of guys come in and play as freshmen. And there’s always about six games it takes to really even what we saw with Breece Hall and David Montgomery – like pro’s, some of the best running backs in the world. And we saw a little bit about a little bit of that last year with (Abu) Sama. (He) breaks out really. I mean, his last six games were incredible, (he’s) one of the best running backs in the country, if you just factor in those games. What is that and are you expecting him to just pick up right where he left off there when it comes to this season?

Mouser: Yeah, I have high expectations for everyone in our running back room, not only because of the skill that they have, but I think Tyler Roehl is so special as a football coach, like, I can’t speak enough to that.

Williams: That was a hell of an add. I was shocked when I saw he was coming.

Mouser: The confidence that I have in our offense is a lot higher with him on our staff. Like, that guy’s really special. The tight end room and the running back room share a wall. And when I tell you that guy’s in there coaching his butt off every day, banging on walls – like that guy eats nails. I’m telling you, he does. He’s one of the most passionate, hardworking guys that I know, and it bleeds into our our running backs and our offense and our team, and I think those guys are going to be a reflection of him. And if that’s the case at all, they’re going to be special. Abu and those young guys will grow a lot just with the experience that he has as a running back and as an offensive coordinator & a coach. My expectations are really high for the running back room, not just because of the talent that’s in there and those guys coming back, but how much I believe in Tyler (Roehl).

Williams: Alright, you had to know it was coming. (I) talk a little bit about my passion for throwing the football. Well, one of the guys – he’s a running back, Carson Hansen. I would buy stock in this kid a million times right now. So like he’s one of my favorite players on the roster. Because, and correct me if I’m wrong, you could just line him up at wide receiver, right?

Mouser: He’s huge.

Williams: Yeah, he’s that athletic, but can we talk a little bit about him and the running backs in the passing game? Maybe a little bit too – because there have been times in recent years where I would say- (there’s been) a struggle to run the football in obvious running situations. How shy will you be in opening that up and pass to run the football a little bit?

Mouser: Yeah, I won’t be shy at all. I think the big emphasis – well, I don’t think emphasis (is the right word) – but one of the areas I really wanted to study was the screen game. And I feel like some of the best offenses that you see have a really efficient, easy (and) simple screen game that I think we could use to get people like him, the ball out in space. Just like Abu (Sama) and Jaylin (Noel) or Dylan (Lee), whoever it might be, to get them the ball in space and let them go make people miss.

I think with the tight ends and the personnel that we have, obviously there’s a there’s a wrinkle and a roll for that. We can get big and get heavy and run downhill and do some of that stuff, too, but I think we have some new, unique ways to get those guys the ball, whether that’s in screens or split out, or throwing it to him out of the backfield. I feel really good about where the offensive line’s at right now – to be able to do some more five-man blocking stuff, we can get the (running) back out there fast. And I think there’s a lot of untapped offense there that we haven’t necessarily done in the past, that we could do now.

Williams: Hansen, to me, there’s a little bit of Kene Nwangwu – only in the sense – I’m not comparing them as players, necessarily, but where there’s another guy in same class like Breece (Hall) was with Kene… And who knows what happens if he doesn’t pop his Achilles at the time, but then all of a sudden, you’re like, Oh, there’s another cyclone in the NFL. And I think Hansen could be one of those guys. I’m just a huge fan.

Mouser: I think so, too. He’s so big and he’s so fluid. He’s so athletic, and the guy runs downhill hard, like he’s a hard tackle. So I think just him and Abu are both different, but they’re both special, and we’re going to have to find ways to get them the ball. So I think it gives us a wrinkle where we could be, like I said, really creative and how we attack people, and at the same time, be really simple and not overthink it at times. (We’ll) just keep feeding these guys the ball and let them go downhill and make people have to tackle.

Williams: Is Dylan Lee going to be another guy that’s hard to keep off the field?

Mouser: I think so. (It’s) just similar to what I said about Tyler, like Dylan has an elite ‘why,’ and he has an elite passion. He’s our guy. He doesn’t leave the facility – doesn’t leave the indoor – like his training and his approach every day kind of reminds me of David. He’s a guy you see in there working a lot and trying to perfect his craft. He’s a very driven person. And you saw how he did in the spring a little bit at times too. And as he grows and gets better and becomes comfortable with what our offense is and what we call things, like he’s going to get better and better, but I think the depth that we have there is going to allow us to be special.

Williams: What about – and this is the last individual (question) that I wanted to ask about was Jalen Travis. I know he’s just got on campus, which is awesome. It’s really interesting, I mean, I feel like he probably could have gone about anywhere in the country and played. You guys recruited him out of high school. He got a lot of attention last week when Pro Football Focus came out with its preseason rankings, or whatever. What do you what do you see in him that could help immediately?

Mouser: Yeah, I think the first thing you’ll see when you look at Jalen is that he’s a monster of a human being. And I don’t mean, like- the guy’s jacked. He’s one of the leanest people we have on our team.

Williams: Wow. How much does he weigh now?

Mouser: I mean, he isn’t- he’s got to be close to 325, but like, he’s jacked. He’s not like a doughy, soft 325 – he’s a good looking 325. He looks like a WWE wrestler. And I think just like, obviously, he’s from Princeton, so he’s smart. He understands the game, and he’s another guy that has a mission. He’s driven. He knows what he wants. He wants to help us win football games and grow, and learn from Ryan Clanton. Like he knows what how good coach client is, and what he’s developed. And I think with just the tools that that guy has – Ryan – there’s a lot that he could grow still. It’s going to be really special to watch his journey and see where he is between now and just by the time we get to football camp. But he’s a guy that is-

Williams: A 4.0 Princeton left tackle.

Mouser: I know.

Williams: We’ll take that every day.

Mouser: Oh, every day. Every day. Yeah, I like the brains too, you know, Charlie (Kolar) and maybe getting another trip back to Vegas.

Williams: So bad thing for you. I always told (Nate) Scheelhaase this, that I’m an elite digital play caller. We’ve got this new NCAA football game coming out. So I’m going to be offering you tips once the game comes. I’m just promising you.

Mouser: Send them. I’ll listen to them.

Williams: How old are you?

Mouser: 33.

Williams: Did you play NCAA football games?

Mouser: Yeah, absolutely, I lived and died on them.

Williams: What were you? Like give me your play-calling strategy like when you’re playing the games.

Mouser: I like the triple option.

Williams: Yes! I love it!

Mouser: And I don’t mean like Navy’s triple option, I mean like, open, pull, pitch-

Williams: The old Nebraska game.

Mouser: Yes, I love doing that.

Williams: Can we bring that into Jack Trice Stadium a little bit?

Mouser: Absolutely.

Williams: We can’t give away too much.

Mouser: No, and we certainly can.

Williams: That JUCO kid from last year – (Tanner) Hughes. I was waiting for him in the option game last year and I never saw it. What’s going on with that?

Mouser: Yeah, it’s gonna be different. There’s gonna be some triple option, for sure. But I loved – (the old NCAA video games) had this game called tug of war. You remember that? I don’t know if they had it past, like 2008 or ’09, because I used to play the one that Tebow was on.

Williams: See, I’m older than you, once I got into college, I shifted out of it a little bit.

Mouser: I loved it. Like it was a game where, like, each guy got one play. So you get a play, and you had to score on that play, but the ball would move whichever way, and you had to get down to the end zone. And it was, I thought it was the funnest game that they had – me and my buddies would play it all day.

Williams: See, this won’t surprise you, with me and my buddies – I had friends at Iowa and Iowa State. We would have a tournament, but we’d do it online, and I was always Texas Tech. Five-wide. It just drove people nuts. All I would do is five-and-outs, yeah, five-and-out every time, just dink and dunk them all the way down the field.

Mouser: Death by 1000 paper cuts. Yeah, there’s a wrinkle in that, for sure. Well, that’s especially in that game – I like the gameplay of NCAA so much better than Madden. You can see the whole field and you get it. I mean, you have to be creative with how you play defense.

Williams: That’s the hardest part. And I don’t know anything about defense. I know that you need to try and get to the quarterback and if you can deflect the pass, that’s good.

Mouser: That was always me, (just playing as a) user-defensive end and try to swim and get a sack.

Williams: Yes, that’s me. I never, I never am dropping back.

Mouser: Yeah, if you want to get me nervous playing, go play like user-safety or something, because then I just feel like you know what you’re doing.

Williams: Well, you’re coming into this coordinator (position) at a great time, but also a bad time when it comes to like perception, because now you’re gonna have all these quarterbacks because the game’s coming back. And they’re gonna be like, ‘Well, I mean, I’m averaging 45 points a game with the same guys.’

Mouser: ‘I won back to back Heisman trophies. I’m like, Lincoln Riley, Mouse, what are you doing?’ Yeah, you know what, that’s a wrinkle I haven’t thought about yet. But if you’re a guy that’s shredding at home and you’re killing it and you got a play that you think can’t be stopped, send it to me. We’ll run it. Send them an email, just don’t say anything hurtful, and just put the clip. We’ll watch it. And if it fits us, we’ll run it.

Williams: I appreciate you. Congrats. I’m really glad that you’re the offensive coordinator, and (I’m) looking forward to September.

Mouser: Bro, I appreciate it. I feel like the luckiest guy in the country, and (I’m) excited to be able to try to lead these guys and see what kind of damage we can do.

Williams: He’s repping the Rus Bus if you’re watching on YouTube today.

Mouser: I’m a big Jared Rus fan, obviously.

Williams: Those guys are my favorite players offense every year – the Seonbuchner’s, the unheralded dudes that have just gone out…

Mouser: The unsung hero guys that will run through a forest blind for you.

Williams: They’ll do anything you ask. They don’t get a lot of receptions. They don’t get the touchdowns, but they’re such a critical part of this offense.

Mouser: Yeah, they’re animals. Especially, like you talk about Sam Seonbuchner – he actually helps me with the tight ends, now. So I mean, when I first got here, obviously he was a tight end, but when he first came back to work with the tight ends, I showed all those guys his film, and talk about a guy that could run downhill and accelerate his feet…

Williams: Isn’t he one of the most unsung heroes of the entire Campbell era?

Mouser: Oh yeah, well the K-State touchdown down there and the block he had.

Williams: Just think about all the blocks he’s had that changed games back in the day.

Mouser: I could promise you – Campbell, myself and the people that appreciate that in the run game, not the air raid people, it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Williams: It’s also a thing, if you go back and study the Campbell era, when those guys have been injured, have been some of the most underperforming offensive games of the entire era.

Mouser: Well, I was telling somebody that you look Stevo Klotz doesn’t play until the Oklahoma State game. You know, our offense – there’s a couple of things that (went into those games), but he is that kind of player.

Williams: Also too, it’s been fun, and again, I’m an offensive geek, and I’m, I’m sorry.

Mouser: Don’t be sorry.

Williams: Because, I can be more critical of offense than I am defense, but I like to sit up in the press box and watch those players. If you watch that player, it gives you a pretty good indication of what’s to come, because there’s so much surrounding that guy.

Mouser: And like, he’s a guy that can move the line of scrimmage. You can never have enough guys that can just win their gap and win the line of scrimmage. Those guys are invaluable, and you’re different when you have those guys. You’re different the pass game with those guys. You’re different in the run game with those guys, and you’re different when they’re on the field.

Williams: You’re the man, appreciate you.

Mouser: You’re the man.

Williams: We’ll catch up with coach here as we get closer to the season, but this will give you a good look at the offense going into 2024. Thanks, coach.

Mouser: Yeah, thanks Chris.