Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads officially announced that quarterback Sam Richardson would start against North Dakota State early Monday afternoon.
A number of sources posted the news immediately right around noon local time. Here was one tweet straight from the Cyclones’ athletic department.
— Iowa State Athletics (@CycloneATH) August 18, 2014
The news doesn’t come as much shock unless you haven’t been paying attention to the quarterback race in the past week. Grant Rohach was widely considered the favorite up until the first scrimmage on Saturday, August 9th. Reportedly, Richardson looked a lot better and never relinquished being the new favorite. We predicted on Friday that he would be named the starter today.
You could also sense how much he improved by how both Rhoads and offensive coordinator Mark Mangino talked about his improvement. They didn’t want to give it away, but they probably had this decision made a while ago. Ames Tribune writer Bobby La Gesse tweeted that “Rhoads said [Richardson] topped 70 percent completion percentage in scrimmages the last two Saturdays.”
With Richardson under center, that brings another dynamic that Rohach doesn’t have — an option to run. Under Rohach, it would demand a high completion rate, but if Richardson is able to pass himself while also being a threat on the ground, there’s no reason to not have him out there. Last season, Richardson regressed with injuries and could barely throw the ball in the second half of the season, leading to more time with Rohach under center. Rohach finally thrived, but it also helped that he faced little pass rush in the final two games.
Durability is still a major question mark with Richardson, but we’ll see if more time in the gym will keep the injury bug away. Either way, just as he was last season, he will be the starter for the opening game.