AMES — Iowa State quarterback Sam Richardson’s first important post-injury throwing session Sunday went pretty well.
Make that very well.
The junior who sat out the 34-14 Nov. 8 loss at Kansas because of a separated shoulder threw at least 10 passes in 7-on-7 drills during practice.
His completion rate? 100 percent.
“He’ll be sort-of on an pitch count, if you will, as the week goes along,” Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads said of Richardson, who is expected to start again in Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. Big 12 matchup with Texas Tech. “He threw a progressive number of balls Friday and Saturday in rehab and got into the team setting to throw those balls (Sunday). That pitch count will increase as the week goes along, but right now he’s making all the throws. He’s throwing the deep ball as well as the short stuff. (Sunday) not only did he do it very accurately, but he did it with velocity.”
Richardson hopes to add yet more zip, though, which means he’ll have to take a smart — read: conservative — approach to this week’s throws.
“You don’t want to wear it out too much,” said Richardson, who needs six touchdown passes in the final three weeks to match Todd Bandhauer’s single-season mark set in 1997.
So pitch count, it is — and many of those undisclosed number of strikes will likely be destined for tight end E.J. Bibbs. Monday, Bibbs was named a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top tight end. His seven touchdown grabs through nine games put him three away from breaking the single-season mark of nine shared by injured teammate Quenton Bundrage and former ISU great Todd Blythe.
“An amazing target,” said Richardson, who has connected with Bibbs on six touchdowns. “The guy is quite an athlete. He’s going to come down with the ball if you put it in his area pretty much most of the time.”
That needs to be all the time if the Cyclones (2-7, 0-6) are to upend the struggling but sometimes high-powered Red Raiders (3-7, 1-6). Richardson said Tech’s secondary is young, but capable of posing problems.
“I think they’re starting three true freshmen right now, but they’re athletic guys back there,” he said.
They’ll face Richardson’s full complement of pitches, too.
“Right now, to be honest, there’s really nothing concerning unless there would be a setback, an unforeseen setback for whatever reason,” Rhoads said.
Those sorts of things have seemed to come frequently for this year’s Cyclones, however. Richardson said he’ll be taking precautions even during the game to ensure his shoulder remains functional throughout the day — and the rest of the season.
“Maybe not throwing too much on the sidelines, but just trying to keep it warm with maybe a jacket or something,” he said. “We’re going to see how it goes throughout the game. it will be kind of testy. We’ll see how it goes.”
TV TIME: ISU’s home season finale against West Virginia will kick at 11 a.m. on Nov. 29. The game will be shown on Fox Sports 1.
COUSIN BRACED UP: Rhoads said defensive tackle Devlyn Cousin would require Tommy John surgery on his elbow if he were a baseball pitcher. He’s not, though, so he’s playing through the pain and recorded ISU’s lone sack in the loss at Kansas. "He cant bend it in every way, so he can’t do some of the stuff, specially pass rush-wise that he would like to," Rhoads said. "When he was in on the sack against Kansas, that’s when he had a little bit of a twinge of pain. So he’ll play injured and braced the rest of the season. There won’t be any change in that status for the better.”
A ROUND OF FRUSTRATION: Rhoads was asked about fan frustration during a second straight season that will not include bowl eligibility. His response? "One, I’ll tell them I’m frustrated as hell, too," Rhoads said. "So is everybody in this building. That’s coaches, players — everybody that works 365 days a year to provide a product that our fans can be excited about and proud of. We have a loyal fan base. There’s a core group of Iowa State Cyclones that not just now, but always have been as loyal as anybody in the country. And I’m so very appreciative of that loyal core group. Then, as witnessed by the last game and what we’re certain to witness in the next two: There’s a group that will show that frustration by their lack of attendance. I get that. I understand that. They want a winner and they want to support a winner and I want to give them one and end that frustration for all of us."