AMES — Mike Rose loves a good bye week.
It's the time in the season to recoup your body and find some time to relax before kicking back into gear — in Iowa State's case, that's seven straight games to end the season with no breaks.
And with the Big 12 going back to a regular scheduling format of one bye week, compared to three breaks in 2020, the Cyclones understand how important this past week's prep was to ensure itself a chance to get back into the Big 12 Championship race.
"It's really the longest week of the year, because the game weeks just fly. It's almost like our bye week felt longer than our first five weeks of the season," Rose said Tuesday. "Bye weeks are awesome dude."
Being one of the many seniors who start for the Cyclones most Saturdays, Rose said bye weeks are one of the few chances in the year to sit and reflect on what has happened up to this point while getting a refresh of what's to come and the work it'll take to win.
Iowa State was 2-1 coming off three bye weeks last season with COVID-19 scheduling in effect.
How did the team take advantage of its break from play, and what was the focus for the 3-2 (1-1 Big 12) Cyclones as they prepare to head to Manhattan, Kan., on Saturday to play Kansas State?
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell and a collection of players met with the media Tuesday to give a lay of the land post-bye-week.
'It's not like we went and redid our scheme'
Unlike last season with unknown obstacles to overcome, Iowa State approached its lone bye week much differently this year. In 2020, Iowa State focused on the health of its roster and making sure conditioning was going smoothly, and everyone was feeling up to their best. Campbell said last week was about staying on track and focusing on intent, and shoring up details. It's those hair-off issues that have forced the Cyclones into less-than-ideal spots through their first five weeks, but veterans spoke on working those out.
"It wasn't like we went and redid our schemes or anything like that, it was really just pounding away at getting better in terms of what we do and how we do what we do," Campbell said.
The noticeable change to the schedule came with the Cyclones flipping practice from Saturday to Friday, with a physical practice coming Friday to finish the week.
Tight end Charlie Kolar spent his bye week watching football. That includes film study, but admittedly some high-stakes college football was mixed in. Kolar said he watched Oklahoma come back against Texas, along with Baylor continuing to win in league play. Kolar said this past week allowed him to be a fan again instead of focusing so much on his assignments and film study.
Kolar was encouraged by what he saw in practice time and how the Cyclones defeated Kansas heading into its time off.
"I think the important thing is that just get better every week and I think we did that against Kansas and in the bye week," Kolar said. "We're in a better spot than we were last week and that's the most important thing."
It's go time
Alabama loses. Texas and Oklahoma produce an all-timer in the Red River Rivalry. College football is going through a turning point six weeks in.
But Campbell isn't surprised. In fact, he knew this would happen coming out of a pandemic-ridden season.
"I think college football is crazy in general," Campbell said. "I think I said that from the get-go this was going to be a really unique and different year and I think we're finding that out and I think it'll only get crazier as the season goes."
With that upheaval in mind, Greg Eisworth and his teammates are more than aware of the opportunities in front of Iowa State. A 1-1 record in the Big 12 has the Cyclones sitting in the middle of the pack in terms of the conference race, but Eisworth isn't concerned about how the season has started.
It's about everything from here on out.
"I think that's why with early losses this year, or even in the past, we never would hang our head," Eisworth said. "We do what we gotta do and that's that and everything else will fall where it's supposed to fall."