May 25, 2024

Matt Campbell guiding Rocco Becht through the growing pains

Iowa State Cyclones Football

Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht scrambles out of the pocket during the fourth quarter against Kansas Saturday November 4, 2023 at Jack Trice Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

AMES, Ia. — The redshirt freshman is doing a phenomenal job as Hunter Dekkers’ replacement this season, and his head coach is high on the quarterback’s maturation process.

Rocco Becht was somewhat humbled in last Saturday’s home loss to Kansas. After all, the Jayhawks snapped the Cyclones’ three-game winning streak. Not to mention it was the first game this season that Becht failed to throw for a touchdown.

Coach Matt Campbell thought Becht put up decent numbers in losing fashion. He completed 20 of his 26 passes for 216 yards. However, Becht made a crucial turnover that turned out to be the difference in the game. Kansas’ cornerback Mello Johnson picked off Becht’s pass in the second quarter, and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown.

At that moment the crowd of 61,500 at Jack Trice Stadium was so silent fans could hear crickets. It really shifted the momentum of the game, but Campbell felt it was simple miscommunication on the play.

“I think Rocco thought it was going to be one route, but it was a read-route,” Campbell said. “Those things happen and you’ve got to live with it, and learn from it.”

Becht was able to rally the troops back after the Cyclones found themselves down by 18 points in the third quarter. The former four-star prospect looked like a wide-eyed freshman behind center in the first half, but performed like a seasoned veteran in the second half, and that encouraged Campbell.

“What I was proud of was his ability to respond,” he said. “I thought he came back and really played a great football game.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Iowa State scored 18 points in the second half, including a rushing touchdown from Becht. The six-foot-one, 205-pounder has thrown for 1,918 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. Campbell feels Becht’s numbers are promising, considering he was thrown to the wolves this fall.

The Cyclones equaled the number of first downs as the Jayhawks, and converted half of their third downs because of Becht. There’s no denying his value to Iowa State’s offense. Campbell believes Becht is just starting to crack the tip of the iceberg on his potential after that outing against Kansas. He expected the gunslinger to be resilient after  that costly interception.

“I don’t know what his numbers were, but I thought his numbers were pretty impressive from that point on, and that could have rattled him, and that’s not easy,” the 43-year old coach said. ”

Iowa State (5-4) has three games left to try and reach bowl eligibility, but it’s going to be challenging. The next tilt is on the road at BYU, and then a top-10 Texas team will invade Ames on Senior Day. Campbell wants to prepare Becht, and he’s seeing improvement in different areas of his game every week.

The eighth-year coach knows that’s going to be important as the Cyclones navigate through the Big 12 meat-grinder. Regardless, it’s going to be up to Becht to respond to the recent adversity, and dive deeper into the playbook. Campbell understands mistakes will be made, but what’s important for Becht at this point is the experience, leadership and production.

“That’s part of the growth process for sure.”