AMES — Mistakes used to stick with ISU quarterback Sam Richardson.
They’d stew, simmer and linger within his brain. Now miscues provoke a dismissive laugh and don’t impact the junior’s play moving forward.
“I kind of just shake them off,” Richardson said.
Call it maturity, growth or simply experience: The proof is showing up on the stat sheet and the scoreboard, if not the win-loss ledger (yet).
“Sam’s been able to have time back there,” freshman wide receiver Allen Lazard said. he’s been able to pick apart the defense throwing the ball. He’s had time to read it. He’s making all the right calls and stuff. We’re just flowing. Hopefully we can keep it on a roll for the rest of the season.”
Richardson’s thrown 13 touchdown passes in seven games, which puts him on pace to break the single-season Cyclone record of 20 touchdown passes set by Todd Bandhauer in 1997.
He’s thrown 12 touchdowns to just three interceptions in the past four games — and shook off the effects of an early fourth quarter pick in last week’s 48-45 loss at Texas to lead two game-tying touchdown drives in the final 7:23.
Couple that show of grit with his response to serving up a pick six in the second quarter and it’s clear Richardson’s learned to operate with a short memory.
“I think there are three drives there where maybe last year I would have been a little different,” said Richardson, who hopes to help lead ISU to an upset of No. 17 Oklahoma Nov. 1 at Jack Trice Stadium. “Throwing that pick six and then coming back down and getting another touchdown before half and then the two drives there to end the game. I think that shows our growth as an offense and I think it definitely gives us something to work with and be positive about going into the next week, but we’ve got to make the other drives count.”
So far, the Cyclones have come up at least one drive — or several of them — short in Big 12 Conference play. ISU stands 2-5 overall but is winless against league competition. Two of those four Big 12 losses came in the final two minutes and by a combined seven points. It’s one play here, one play there — a recently familiar oh-so-close feeling in need of a strong finishing kick.
“At the end of the day it’s the play in front of you rather than the one behind you, so it’s a constant refocus from play to play,” Richardson said.
Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads is seeing that ability to “snap and clear” improve from week to week. On Saturday, Rhoads said, only one of Richardson’s two interceptions was on him. Both times, he added, Richardson appeared unfazed and carried on with confidence.
“He responded every time he had to Saturday night,” Rhoads said.
INJURY UPDATES: Rhoads said wide receiver and return man Jarvis West could be back for the Nov. 1 game against Oklahoma, but pain emanating from a sprained ankle continues to slow his recovery. They’ve tried switching shoes and alternative taping methods to decrease his discomfort, but so far nothing’s worked. “The bottom line is he’s in a lot of pain and every time he goes to push he’s in a lot of pain,” Rhoads said.
Rhoads added that defensive tackle Devlyn Cousin will have his injured elbow examined on Thursday and he, like West, won’t practice this week. Rhoads also is hopeful injured defensive linemen Brandon Jensen and Robby Garcia will be healthy enough to play against the Sooners.
BIG-TIME BIBBS: Cyclone tight end E.J. Bibbs needs just three touchdown catches in the final five games to match the single-season record total of nine achieved by injured teammate Quenton Bundrage last season and Todd Blythe in 2004 and 2005. Five of Bibbs’ touchdowns this season have come in the past three games. “That’s where his presence is being felt the most, down in the red zone catching those touchdowns,” Richardson said. “It’s crucial for him to be in the game. His versatility out there on the field, it’s a matchup problem for the defense.”