(1) Sam Richardson, QB: Completed 121 passes in 219 attempts for 1,397 yards, with 11 TDs and 6 interceptions. He also rushed for 342 yards. Richardson, who started most of 2013, was named the starter earlier this week.
(2) Aaron Wimberly, RB: 141 carries for 567 yards — but only 2 TDs. Last year’s leading rusher put up 117 yards in a home loss to Texas. He averaged 4 yards a carry.
(3) Quenton Bundrage, WR: Led the team in receiving, with 48 catches for 676 yards and 9 TDs, all team highs.
About the Cyclones’ triplets:
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads needed to do something to jumpstart his offense.
The struggling Cyclones ranked only 96th in the country in total offense a year ago. That’s not good production in an offensively-aggressive league where teams pile up massive amounts yards. Statistically, the only teams lower than Iowa State’s 363.3 yards per game were TCU and Kansas.
So Rhoads junked his offense and installed an up-tempo approach. He hired coordinator Mark Mangino, the former head coach at Kansas, and a new set of offensive assistants.
Rhoads told reporters that he liked Mangino’s “proven track record as a play-caller — as a tough-guy type of coach — and what he could bring to our offensive mentality that way. “But at the very top of the list, was the simplicity with which his offenses have had success.”
But will Iowa State have the talent to complete the transition?
Earlier this week, Rhoads named the mobile Richardson as his starting quarterback. Richardson was the starter for much of 2013, but he spent most of the season hobbled by a sprained ankle and then a jammed thumb. Grant Rohach started the final four games.
“Sam has displayed great leadership and that certainly includes poise in the pocket where he has been very much in control of our offense and of himself,” Rhoads said in a statement. “His understanding of the scheme and his decision making has really grown in the last two weeks, and maybe as much as anything, he is throwing a great ball, an accurate ball, a tight ball and a catchable ball.”
Tight end E.J. Bibbs is Iowa State’s best target for Richardson. Bibbs is a preseason all-conference pick who caught 39 passes for 462 yards and two touchdowns last season. He was recently named a team captain. The top returning receiver is Quenton Bundrage, who had 48 catches for 676 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013.
Iowa State also returns speedy Aaron Wimberly, last year’s leading rusher. He ran for 117 yards in a near upset of Texas, but struggled at midseason with a shoulder/back injury.
Richardson also figures into the running game. Even with a bad ankle, Richardson rushed for 356 yards and two scores.
News on Bevo Beat is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of Hookem.com is included with an Austin American-Statesman subscription in addition to Statesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe today at statesman.com/subscribe.