COMMENTARY: Richardson is radical, best choice at quarterback


Quarterbacks Jared Barnett, left, Steele Jantz and Sam Richardson joke at Iowa State football’s media day Thursday, Aug. 2, at Jack Trice Stadium. They will be competing for the quarterback position in fall camp. 

Jake Calhoun

As the wheels came off for the ISU offense in last Saturday’s 31-10 loss to Oklahoma State, I watched from the press box of Boone Pickens Stadium and couldn’t help but cringe.

Jared Barnett was benched for Steele Jantz at the start of the fourth quarter after losing the lead and failing to retaliate after taking a 10-7 lead into the second quarter.

From that point, watching Jantz’s first few plays unravel akin to the aimless floundering of a fish on land, I realized something: There is no hope for this offense.

“If we turned around and responded, we’d be having a different conversation right now,” Barnett said after the game. “The scoreboard would say something different, but we didn’t come out and respond.”

When Jantz screws up, fans call for Barnett. When Barnett screws up, fans call for Jantz as though they had completely forgotten why he was even benched in the first place.

Folks, I’ve covered 16 of this team’s games — nine last season, all seven this season — and while that comparatively might not be a lot, I’ve seen enough to be able to tell you the harsh truth: Neither Steele Jantz nor Jared Barnett can play consistently enough to get this team over the hump of a mediocre 6-6 season.

ISU coach Paul Rhoads has possibly two of the best linebackers this program has ever had in Jake Knott and A.J. Klein.

Both true seniors have combined for 24 percent of the team’s total tackles in the past two-plus seasons as starters. Knott ranks sixth all time in total tackles in ISU history with 336 while Klein shares the NCAA record in most career interceptions returned for touchdowns with four.

But yet, their talent is being wasted with the fragmented success of this inconsistent offense. At this rate, the defense will have lost its key players by the time the offense gets its act together.

Iowa State should have beaten Texas Tech. Iowa State should have beaten Kansas State. Heck, Iowa State should have beaten or at least kept it close with Oklahoma State.

But sugar-coating the situation isn’t doing any good. I think the only shot this team has at finding any success is if Sam Richardson starts at quarterback.

Although Richardson has not been talked about as much as the other two, Rhoads managed to shed some light on what he sees in practice.

“He’s probably the most natural thrower out of the three guys,” Rhoads said of Richardson. “He doesn’t look athletic when he runs, but he’s effective.”

Richardson’s main setback, Rhoads said, is his lack of aggressiveness as the leader of the offense, inhibiting his decision-making in practice.

Richardson has one series of experience from Iowa State’s win on Sept. 15 against Western Illinois.

In that drive, Richardson showed poise in leading the team down the field to an eventual rushing score by Rob Standard. Even though Richardson never attempted a pass, we won’t know how he will do until he’s put on the field.

Start Richardson — he will be going against the Baylor defense that ranks dead-last in the nation. He’ll have success and build confidence to the point where he will be more aggressive as the leader of the offense.

Fans want Jantz, then they want Barnett, but why not Richardson? This team doesn’t have anything else to lose.

Jake Calhoun is a senior in journalism from Urbandale, Iowa.