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Iowa State names Richardson starting quarterback

Published: Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 11:03 a.m. CDT

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State has named junior Sam Richardson its starting quarterback.

Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads said Monday that Richardson emerged as the starter over Grant Rohach.

Richardson opened 2013 as the starter. But he struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness, and Rohach started the final four games for the Cyclones.

Richardson, who finished with 1,397 yards passing and 11 TDs last season, took advantage of the fresh start provided by new coordinator Mark Mangino to reclaim the starting job.

The Cyclones, who were 3-9 in 2013, open against defending FCS champion North Dakota State on Aug. 30.

“He’s had a tremendous fall camp,” Rhoads said of Richardson. “He’s displayed great leadership, and that certainly includes poise in the pocket, where he’s been very much in control of our offense and of himself. His understanding of the scheme and decision making has really grown in the time that we’ve spent here the last two weeks. And maybe as much as anything, he’s throwing a great ball. An accurate ball. A tight ball. A catchable ball.”

Even though Richardson will open the season as the starter for the second straight year, he appeared to be behind Rohach until just a few weeks ago.

Rohach led the Cyclones to wins over Kansas and West Virginia to close out 2013 — including the biggest comeback in school history to beat the Mountaineers on the road. Rohach built on that momentum in spring practice and appeared to be well ahead of Richardson following the spring game.

But Richardson said he and Mangino started to click about a week into fall camp, and Richardson started showing the form that made the coaching staff so high on him before last season.

“In the spring, it was tough to get used to how Mangino coached and what he was expecting. He’s a different kind of coach, and it took a little bit to get used to it,” Richardson said. I was “going out there with a new focus and trying to get the job. Once they noticed that I was trying to work to get there they kind of noticed that and gave me more reps.”

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