Grant Rohach is his own worst critic. For a while there, during the run from Oct. 17 to Nov. 16 — Rohach's first career appearance against Baylor through the Oklahoma game — it was pretty easy for him to be hard on himself.
In that stretch, Rohach completed 70 of 132 passes (53 percent) for 577 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions, averaging 4.37 yards per attempt.
And then the Kansas game hit, the wind and the ice making for a quarterback's nightmare, and Rohach had an about-face.
Offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham designed a gameplan with lots of easy throws, and it worked: Rohach was 8-for-9 on screen passes, 2-for-3 on intermediate throws and 5-for-8 on throws that traveled in the air 10 yards or more, going 3-for-3 from that depth in the middle of the field.
"Very impressed with Grant, but as much impressed with our wide receivers and tight ends and running backs, you very seldom saw them on the ground … which is amazing … it was like you were skating on ice," Messingham said. "All of them did a really nice job.
"Tried to throw the ball more in the middle of the field or inside the numbers."
In his mechanics and decision making Rohach looked like a different quarterback against Kansas. His passes hummed out of his hand and he followed through the entire way with his release, like a three-point shooter in basketball. He made throws of authority, slinging six passes in the middle of the field, five which were completed. And he did a nice job on his screen passes of giving receivers an opportunity to make a big play, setting the ball out a little in front rather than right at, or behind, the target, which requires more patience from the pass-catcher.
Saturday at West Virginia, Rohach will try to prove his outing was no fluke. If he can put together another good day, minimal mistakes and a completion percentage above 60 percent, he'll wrap up a nice close to his redshirt freshman year and generate momentum toward an offseason competition.
"Obviously not too focused on [the offseason] now, more focused on West Virginia but having [the Kansas game] in the back of my mind gives me a lot of confidence," Rohach told AllCyclones on Tuesday night. "But it still is an open competition, so I have to attack it as hard as I can."
When we first saw Rohach, he was running out of bounds for a loss of yards rather than get rid of the ball. A sign of hesitation. That issue still lurks, but it didn't pop up against Kansas.
"This season I've improved I think in overall decision-making, not just in the pass game but in the run game as well, making sure I'm getting my team in place and getting them the best opportunities," Rohach said. "That and I think also overall accuracy. Simple completions, throwing balls that guys don't have to make a great play to get. Making it easy on receivers. A lot of the basics."
A two-year starter at Moorpark High in California, Rohach was introduced to myriad offensive philosophies and sets, running a one-back, pro scheme as a junior, where he oftentimes was under center and turning that into a spread attack, gun-based look his senior season.
If the Cyclones make personnel changes, or switch things up offensively after a season in which they ranked No. 105 nationally in total offense, Rohach's diversification will help him in the offseason jockeying with Sam Richardson, who he maintains a very good relationship with, and freshmen Joel Lanning and Trevor Hodge.
"Running anything I feel really comfortable," Rohach said.
|Matchup Preview | November 30, 2013|
|Iowa State Cyclones|
(2-9, 1-4 Away)
|West Virginia Mountaineers|
(4-7, 3-2 Home)