Who will it be?: ISU football looks for big performer against Iowa


Redshirt junior quarterback Sam Richardson passes off the ball to senior running back Aaron Wimberly during the game against Kansas State on Sept. 6 at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones led for much of the game but couldn’t maintain their lead in the second half, and the Wildcats won 32-28.

Beau Berkley

As Paul Rhoads prepares for his sixth Cy-Hawk game as the head coach of Iowa State, he thinks back to some of the more memorable performances in the series.

He thinks back to a few years ago in 2012, when linebacker Jake Knott came down with the game-clinching interception in Iowa City. James White, the running back who scored the game winning touchdown in triple overtime in 2011, also sticks out. 

Rhoads certainly remembers the performance by quarterback Steele Jantz, who completed 25-of-37 passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns in that same triple overtime victory. 

And if Rhoads thinks back a little further, back to his days as an assistant coach for Iowa State in the late 1990s, he remembers when Darren Davis ran all over the Hawkeyes in Iowa City, piling up a whopping 244 rushing yards and ending the Hawkeyes’ 15-game winning streak against the Cyclones. 

Now, in 2014, as Iowa State is set to travel to Iowa City on Sept. 13 and meet Iowa for the 62nd time, there is one question: After dropping two straight games, one to North Dakota State and the other to Kansas State in the waning minutes of the game, who will step up for the Cyclones in their biggest regular season game? 

How about quarterback Sam Richardson? In his last two games, Richardson has thrown for a total of 336 yards and one touchdown as well as a team-high 123 rushing yards. Richardson also has some Cy-Hawk experience under his belt, throwing for 260 yards and three touchdowns in last year’s 27-21 loss in Ames.

“It’s a huge game obviously,” Richardson said. “You’re remembered for your time at Iowa State obviously in large part by how you play against Iowa.” 

Receiver Jarvis West might be the easy choice for many. West is coming off a career game after throwing for a touchdown, receiving a touchdown and returning a punt for a touchdown against Kansas State. Can West put in that kind of effort again? 

It will be tough. 

“It’s a team that has a really physical, aggressive defensive line … they’re experienced guys,” said offensive coordinator Mark Mangino. “Their secondary is athletic, they have a good system that they use there, that they believe in and they operate it pretty well.”

To lead the team on defense, it could be defensive end and team captain Cory Morrissey. Whether or not he will line up against Iowa’s star left tackle Brandon Scherff has yet to be determined. 

Or maybe linebacker Jevohn Miller, who racked up 11 total tackles against Kansas State last week, will lead the defense. 

But maybe it will end up being a team effort. That sounds like something Rhoads wouldn’t mind.

“I don’t think careers here are defined by how they play in this game, but it’s certainly one that people in the state can tell you about and remember just like I can,” Rhoads said.