Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads confirmed Sam Richardson practiced Sunday evening, a day after he left the Oklahoma State game early with pains in his head, neck and back after taking an awkward hit from behind.
Richardson, however, isn't a lock to start Saturday at Kansas State.
"Plan will be to go through the week and make sure he's 100 percent off this recent injury and can operate the offense," Rhoads said. "We'll figure it out from that point."
It's a different tune than the one Rhoads sang last week, opening up his press conference backing Richardson and saying he'd definitely start over Grant Rohach versus the Cowboys.
Rohach relieved Richardson in the second quarter and, like his predecessor, had his ups and downs, pretty, deep throws followed by intermediate passes curiously off-target.
After the game, Rohach took blame for the loss, saying he missed on throws he shouldn't have missed on.
The redshirt freshman from California is still waiting for the game to slow down. He has great physical attributes — a quick release and a strong arm — but looks frazzled at times.
"It always starts in between the ears before it gets on the field and that's where individual skills take over," Rhoads said. "That's where we've got to improve.
"What you want to see with the quarterback position — you want them to be 100 percent [on correct reads]. That's the very, very first place I look. Then throwing accuracy is something the quarterback position has to have."
Richardson and Rohach have an identical completion percentage — 55.6 — but Richardson has a clear advantage in yards per attempt, 6.6 to 4.5. Richardson has thrown for 1,350 yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions, to Rohach's 162 yards, two scores and one pick.
ISU stressing preparation this week
A few characteristics of a Bill Snyder team, in no particular order, are efficiency, preparation and discipline. It's no surprise the Wildcats from 2013 to 2010 have either led the league or been tied for fewest penalties per game.
Efficient, prepared, disciplined. Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads said Monday his team has to eliminate all the noise this week — this game being a must-win in the uphill battle toward bowl eligibility — and focus on the basics.
"Anytime you're facing Kansas State, a Bill-Snyder coached team, you better be extremely well-prepared yourself," Rhoads said. "If you look at their meticulous preparation … everything is designed to take advantage of numbers and angles to attack you. If you're not prepared as smartly as they are you are going to be in trouble."
Both Iowa State and Kansas State began their seasons with disappointing losses to FCS teams. Since then, the teams have followed a similar trajectory. Kansas State is 3-4, with wins against Louisiana-Lafayette, Umass and West Virginia.
The Cyclones have a lone win against Tulsa, although close losses to Iowa, Texas and Texas Tech could have swung their way. They need five wins in five games to achieve bowl eligibility.
"[These next games] are very important for our future," Rhoads said. "It's always inter-mixed in there. You don't coach for the future, I coach to beat K-State this week, but a positive conclusion is very important for January and beyond, for sure.
"They know the math. Simple math. Five games gets us to six and that gets us to a bowl game. We're concerned about great preparation for Kansas State."
O-line pleased with its performance
Iowa State's offensive line turned it its best game of the 2013 season in a loss to Oklahoma State, according to junior center Tom Farniok.
As an offensive line we executed a lot better, that was our best game as a line," Farniok said.
The Cyclones ran for 154 yards, fourth-most this season, and averaged 4.02 yards a play. Not scintillating numbers, but considering it was the seventh game without the same five starters, it was better than expected.
Farniok said redshirt freshman Daniel Burton graded out well at quick tackle, sliding over from guard.
Still, they got us on a few things," Farniok said. "There were some times we didn't make some checks that we should have. As a whole, we played a better game than we had been playing."
Farniok added the Oklahoma State game was the best he's felt all season. He missed the Iowa game with an MCL sprain, wasn't at full strength against Tulsa and then was affected by a stomach bug against Texas.
Starting running back Aaron Wimberly is day-to-day. Wimberly did not practice Sunday evening, jogging instead, and he's expected to follow that routine Tuesday.
Luke Knott is listed as the starter at WLB but his hip injury will be an impediment the rest of the year.
Wide receiver/returner Jarvis West is out a couple weeks with an MCL sprain but it is not believed to be as bad as the ones suffered by Jamison Lalk and Ben Boesen, injuries which lingered several weeks.
Senior defensive end Willie Scott is listed as the starter at left end and Rhoads confirmed he will play. Scott did not play Saturday against OSU for disciplinary reasons.
With West and Wimberly injured, Justin Coleman could return punts against Kansas State. Coleman returned two punts Saturday, one for no gain and the other for 13 yards.