Iowa State football preview 2014: Looking at QB Sam Richardson


Heading into the season last year, there was no controversy surrounding Sam Richardson. He was the next guy at quarterback after winning fans over dominating Kansas back in 2012.

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It’s eerily similar to how Grant Rohach won fans over last season. Richardson got the start at Kansas with bowl hopes on the line and two games to go. Richardson went 23-for-27 for 250 yards and four touchdowns. Zero picks, a little different than Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett’s combined 16 picks during the season.

That win over Kansas got Iowa State into a bowl game, but lost against West Virginia and the ensuing bowl game after suffering an injury before halftime.

Injuries subdued the quarterback from the season opener in 2013. Dealing with injuries on and off the field, Richardson completed just 55 percent of his passes and didn’t attempt more than 15 passes after the fifth game of the season.

Now that Rohach won fans over with wins over Kansas and West Virginia last season, Richardson will have to battle for his starting job in fall camp.

Nov 16, 2013; Norman, OK, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Sam Richardson (12) attempts a pass against the Oklahoma Sooners in the first half at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

There’s plenty of questions surrounding Richardson. Was he just a one hit wonder two years ago, benefiting from the Kansas pass rush that it doesn’t have? Rohach dissected the Jayhawks in a similar vein, except the team rushed more because KU couldn’t stop any tailback that Iowa State pushed down their throat. He followed that up with a impressive performance against the Mountaineers, throwing for 331 yards and 4 TDs to 1 interception.

Also, there’s durability. Richardson completed a full 60 minutes without dealing with injuries twice. Ever since the bowl game against Tulsa, he’s either received an injury or dealt with nagging injuries. Whether it’s bad luck or taking preventative measures to avoid injuries, you have to be relied upon at the quarterback position.

Richardson was trending in the right direction against Tulsa and Texas, but he eventually wore down as the season progressed to the point where he could barely throw the ball. How severe? 176 pass attempts in the first five games of the season, 44 pass attempts in his final six — he did not appear in the season finale against West Virginia.

Don’t forget that unlike Rohach, Richardson is a threat on the ground. He racked up 356 yards on 101 rushes and even got a couple touchdowns late in the season. It isn’t a dangerous dual threat, but could be if the offensive line actually holds up like it should this season.

All three quarterbacks are in play to possibly start the season, and despite Rohach having the edge right now, Richardson could be a year stronger and could win the fans back again. I believe he’s shown enough to prove that he wasn’t a one-hit wonder and can be a full-time Big 12 starter, but the question will be if he can be sustainable throughout an entire season. And now, if he can beat out his favored competition.