AMES — In what went down as the coldest game in the history of Jack Trice Stadium, California native Grant Rohach completed 75 percent of his passes while throwing for a career-high 300 yards in a 34-0 victory over Kansas.
Sub-zero wind chills and a skating rink of a football field are supposed to equal smash mouth, run-dominated games – not breakout performances by struggling young quarterbacks.
“I didn’t know how the field was going to be until we finally got out there for warm-ups," Rohach said. "We started walking around and I thought, ‘We’re going to run the ball every down.’ I think what helped us was after that first drive we figured out that nobody could pass rush with the field being that way. I think we utilized that to our advantage.”
Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads enthusiastically used the word “outstanding” to describe the performance of his young quarterback during his weekly Monday press conference.
“He was a different guy,” Rhoads said. “This is a young man who is growing up. The play reflected that Saturday.”
Prior to Saturday, Rohach’s best statistical game was the previous week’s road trip to Oklahoma when the threw for 179 yards but according to Rhoads, the improvement has been consistent. When pressed about his quarterback situation heading into the offseason, Rhoads said that Rohach will be the first quarterback to take snaps with the ones when spring drills roll around in March.
“Somebody is going to take the first snap,” Rhoads said. “It will be Grant when we take the field on that first spring practice in March. He will be with the ones on the first snap but she will be open.”
That is important to note one more time. “She,” being the upcoming quarterback competition that Rhoads has referenced numerous times, will be wide-open.
“I thought that we played well as an offense and operated efficiently,” Rohach said of the offense on Saturday. “But Sam (Richardson) is a great player and even Trevor Hodge and Joel Lanning are great players. I know they are going to be competing too. We have a lot of talent at the quarterback position so who knows in the springtime. All I know is that I am going to battle as hard as I can when that time comes.”
The conditions on Saturday weren’t completely foreign to Rohach. He might hail from California but both of Rohach’s parents are originally from Iowa.
“I have been in weather like that but usually I am staying indoors at grandpa and grandmas,” Rohach said.
Rohach gets it, but his friends back in California certainly do not.
“A few of them said that it kind of looked cold out there. I said, ‘You guys have no idea.’ They all kind of make fun of me anyways when I go back home,” Rohach said. “They call this ‘the tundra.’”
It’s hard to argue with that.