NOTEBOOK: Sam Richardson, Gage Shaeffer salvage opportunity


ISU quarterback Sam Richardson attempts a pass during the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers on Friday, Nov. 23, at Jack Trice Stadium. The Mountaineers won the game 31-24. Richardson finished the game with 162 yards passing and three touchdowns. Richardson has thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions in the last two games.

Jake Calhoun

His name was sung as the answer to the offensive struggles plaguing the team at the quarterback position almost all season.

But after his five-touchdown showing against Kansas on Nov. 17, Sam Richardson proved to be a pedestrian with his 13-of-31, 162-yard passing performance in Iowa State’s 31-24 loss to West Virginia on Friday.

“[It was a] completely different defense that [Richardson] had to go out and execute against,” said ISU coach Paul Rhoads after the game. “Three-man fronts are unique defenses to prepare for — they give a lot of different angles and numbers as far as pressure is concerned and they certainly did a very nice job of covering us tonight.”

Coming into the game, West Virginia (6-5, 3-5 Big 12) was 117th in the nation in total defense, allowing 496.5 yards per game, but it managed to decrease that number by holding Iowa State (6-6, 3-6) to 396 yards of total offense.

Richardson, however, accounted for 281 of those yards (71.7 percent) with more than 100 yards in both the air and on the ground.

The three-man front the Mountaineers brought did not bring a lot of pressure, but the increased pass coverage gave it enough time to flush Richardson out of the pocket and scramble.

“I felt like I was a little rattled all night,” Richardson said. “I don’t really know why, but maybe that’s the reason why I was pulling it down and running. But I guess it’s just the option that I saw [was] best.”

Through two games, Richardson is 36-of-58 (62.1 percent) with seven passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown from 162 yards rushing on 29 carries (5.9 yards per carry).

Shaeffer steps in, steps up

In the absence of Durrell Givens, the nation’s leader in takeaways with nine total, redshirt sophomore Gage Shaeffer turned heads at the strong safety position.

After recording six solo tackles in relief effort for the injured Givens in the Nov. 17 win against Kansas, Shaeffer recorded a career-high 13 tackles against West Virginia on Friday in his first-ever start.

“It was fun,” Shaeffer said of his first start. “I love being out there. When Durrell got hurt at Kansas, I was able to get some time, get in there and get some jitters out.”

Before his 13-tackle performance against the Mountaineers, the Eden Prairie, Minn., native had 10 career tackles to his name.

Shaeffer said he knew he would be getting the start against West Virginia since Givens was out of practice the entire week while nursing his ankle injury.

“Gage came in and played great,” said nickelback Deon Broomfield. “I don’t want to say injuries really plagued us.”

Rhoads did not elaborate on the extent of Givens’ injury or whether he would be ready in time for the team’s bowl game that will soon be announced Dec. 2.

But going forward, Shaeffer likes where he’s at.

“It’s great to get some game experience going into spring ball,” Shaeffer said. “[With] Durrell graduating, I don’t know if it’s going to be me or who it’s going to be.”

“But it definitely does give me a leg up on the competition being able to get some game-time experience.”