“Sam has displayed great leadership and that certainly includes poise in the pocket where he has been very much in control of our offense and of himself,” Rhoads said. “His understanding of the scheme and his decision making has really grown in the last two weeks, and maybe as much as anything, he is throwing a great ball, an accurate ball, a tight ball and a catchable ball.”
Richardson was the starter last season, before injuries and lack of production led to Grant Rohach starting the final four games.
Rohach looked promising in the final two games of the season, throwing for 300+ yards in back-to-back wins to close out the season. His strong performance led most to believe that the starting job for this season’s was Rohach’s to lose, until the last few practices, when Richardson indicated that he was getting the majority of the snaps.
Richardson, a redshirt junior from Winter Park, Fla., started off last season strong, with 240+ passing yards in each of the first four games before injuries plagued him for the rest of the season.
Despite his injury troubles, Richardson still played in eleven games, starting eight of them, and throwing for 1397 yards, 11 TDs, 7 picks, on 55% competition percentage.
Richardson’s biggest issue last season came down to him holding the ball too long. All to often in a third and long situation, Richardson would get happy feet in the pocket and take off running for a short gain, or no gain, and the punting unit would trot out.
In order to be successful this season, Richardson must get rid of the ball quickly. With WRs Quenton Bundrage and Allen Lazard, among others, stretching the field, Richardson will have to trust himself to get the ball to his playmakers, instead of taking off on the ground. TE E.J. Bibbs will also be a frequent target, as will RB Aaron Wimberly in check down situations.
Now that the decision has been made, and Richardson has been named the starter, it has to stay that way. Iowa State cannot afford the rotating carousel of QBs that they have had the last few years. With the Cyclones learning a new offense under offensive coordinator Mark Mangino, they will need a consistent presence at QB. Consistency will be a necessity if the offense wants any chance to be successful.
If the injury bug bites Richardson again, or production issues lead to Rohach getting snaps, then Cyclone fans are in for a long and low scoring season. Just like last year.