Fall camp, quarterback battle heats up for ISU football


Redshirt junior quarterback Sam Richardson passes the ball at the first fall practice on Aug. 4, 2014.

Beau Berkley

What would fall football camp be without a bit of competition at quarterback?

Sam Richardson and Grant Rohach have found themselves in the heat of an August position battle, both vying for the starting spot under center come Aug. 30 when Iowa State welcomes North Dakota State to Jack Trice Stadium.

In 2013, Richardson started eight games before Rohach took over the final four games of the season, bringing home victories against Kansas and West Virginia.

During Iowa State’s first practice of fall camp Aug. 4, Rohach ran with the first team, just as he did in the 2014 spring game back in April when he completed 22 of his 38 passes for 171 yards.

It might seem like Rohach has the upper hand, but not according to head coach Paul Rhoads.

“It will begin to rotate as we go through and by day,” Rhoads said of the quarterback rotation. “Grant started with the ones in spring and started with the ones today. Continuity is going to be important. Jumping back and forth with a different center and different receivers during a practice is not conducive, so we’ll do it by practices.”

Not to be forgotten is Joel Lanning, a redshirt freshman from Ankeny, Iowa. Lanning saw action in the spring game and completed seven of his 14 passes for 44 yards.

Rhoads said that making making the right throws and being able to scramble when needed are what he will be looking for on the field, but mental intangibles will also play a role in the final selection. 

“They got to show leadership and with leadership comes intelligence and decision making,” Rhoads said. “They got to get us in the right play, make checks, understand thoroughly the offense.”

As far as a timetable for naming a starting quarterback, it probably won’t be this week.

“I don’t know if it’s a couple weeks, but it will be awhile,” said offensive coordinator Mark Mangino. “We’re not ready for that yet.”

While it is still up in the air on who will be throwing the ball, the Cyclones at least have an idea of who will be catching it.

Quenton Bundrage, who led the team in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns during his 2013 campaign, will bolster the receiving corps. Tight end E.J. Bibbs will look to not only be a force downfield, but also as a blocker in the running game.

Highly touted receiver Allen Lazard will look to throw his hat into the ring, but Mangino says he is still trying to learn, just like the other receivers.

“They all bring something different to the table and it’s our job to mold them into a cohesive unit to where they understand what it is they’re doing and what’s in front of them,” Mangino said.

On the defensive side of the ball, defensive coordinator Wally Burnham is working with a defense he described as young but hungry. 

During the first day, Burnham said that players like Luke Knott and Jared Brackens caught his eye as well as the overall speed of the ISU defense. 

“First two things I told the entire defense yesterday was we got to have a lot of knowledge,” Burnham said. “That leads to confidence and we got to play physical every day out there. We get those things going, and I think this group is very hungry, they like to play and I think we’ll see some big improvement the next three weeks.”