Sam Richardson went from the quarterback with the bad ankle to the quarterback with the bad thumb, an unfortunate transformation that's turned him from Iowa State's starter to its relief specialist.
The redshirt sophomore will cede the starting job to Grant Rohach for the second straight week as a bruised right thumb, which he's been dealing with all year, keeps him from managing the offense as effectively as he needs to. Richardson attempted one pass last week against TCU, but contributed where he could in the running game, wheeling 15 yards for a touchdown and keeping a speed option to convert a crucial third-and-short.
The Cyclones will present the same looks against Oklahoma.
"It's gonna be similar to last week," head coach Paul Rhoads said. "Grant will be the starter but there will be similarities to it."
It's funny, Iowa State using a running quarterback who, just a month ago, nearly had to shut it down for the season because of an ankle injury. But the offense the Cyclones use, with a dependance on the option, needs a running quarterback to be successful and Richardson is, reportedly, up to the task.
"I really feel like he's close to normal from his ankle standpoint," offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham said. "He has the ability to stride out and run. He doesn't change direction quite as well as he did early in the year but I really think from from a legs standpoint he can be that guy. In my mind he runs the option better than Grant does, runs zone-read better. You guys probably have a little better idea than I do. He's had a number of long runs this year and I think because of his feet he can do that for us."
Added Rhoads: "His ankle is the least of his problems."
Rodney Coe coming along
Defensive coordinator Wally Burnham earned some laughs this week when describing Rodney Coe's progression from neophyte to three-technique.
"He didn't really know how to play football," Burnham said. "He was a freelancing fool."
Coe, a JUCO transfer, started his first career game Saturday against TCU with David Irving out with an undisclosed injury. The defensive tackle gig could be Coe's the rest of the way with Irving's status with the team up in the air after he was arrested Wednesday on domestic abuse charges.
"He has got a ton of potential," Burnham said of Coe on Tuesday, before Irving's arrest. "He's not anywhere close to it now."
Coe had 1.5 tackles for loss against the Horned Frogs.
Offensive line steadily improving
Perhaps the results aren't there on the box score, but Rhoads feels the offensive line has quietly been in a groove since the Tulsa game Sept. 26, when the Cyclones battered the Golden Hurricane for 179 yards on the ground.
The next game, against Texas, ISU had 201 yards. Game after that, against Texas Tech, the Cyclones had 143. Other than Texas, there haven't been any games in which eye-popping numbers were reached, but the point is the Cyclones say they have something to build on after a rocky first few games under new line coach Chris Klenakis.
When you get a new coach and his methodology is different you go from blocking this way to blocking that way, it takes a little time," Rhoads said. "Then you add the youth he is coaching, throw in the injuries. Yeah, it's taken a little while. I would argue, from Tulsa on the offensive line has improved."
The way 2013 began, with starting left guard Shaban Dika suffering a career-ending knee injury in April, was ominous enough. Then starting center Tom Farniok sprained his MCL in the opener. Then Jamison Lalk did the same against Iowa.
Injuries have been everywhere, providing an easy excuse should the Cyclones want one.
Offensive lineman Daniel Burton is not expected to play against Oklahoma after suffering a setback in practice this week. Burton injured his ankle against Kansas State on Nov. 2.