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Iowa State quarterback Richardson to start against Bison

FARGO — Iowa State released its depth chart for the North Dakota State football game this week and the Cyclones are hoping the quarterback spot goes unchanged for the rest of the year. It’s been awhile since that has happened.

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Junior Sam Richardson, who started last season before getting hurt, reclaimed the No. 1 job this month. He was third on the depth chart after spring football.

“Probably the first week of this August is when we saw a different Sam,” said Cyclones head coach Paul Rhoads. “In the first scrimmage he was really a poised leader of another 10 offensive guys and that’s a big piece to that position.”

Richardson played in 11 games a year ago completing 121 of 220 passes, a 55 percent accuracy. He threw 11 touchdown passes and had seven interceptions.

His strength was his dual-threat capability — he had 101 rushing attempts for 356 yards with a long of 55 yards.

But the Cyclones have a new offensive coordinator this year in Mark Mangino and the 6-foot-2, 221-pound Richardson said one of his priorities was staying in the pocket more instead of taking off and running.

“The main thing is the style of play,” Richardson said at his team’s media day on Monday. “And not running around vs. trying to throw the ball more.”

Richardson’s season never really got going last year spraining an ankle in the season-opening loss to Northern Iowa. He also went through back and hand problems and was involved in a car accident while on his moped, according to the Ames Tribune newspaper.

He goes into the NDSU game that kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday without those problems.

“Feels great now being 100 percent, it makes you appreciate being 100 percent,” he said. “Last year is nothing I want to go through again, it was one thing on top of another. But it’s part of the game, I don’t want to make excuses but it was a frustrating thing to go through.”

It wasn’t an easy job to win this fall as Richardson beat out sophomore Grant Rohach, who led the Cyclones to two victories late in the season. Rhoads said Rohach, who started the final four games of 2013, is ready to go if needed.

But he also said having a dependable quarterback for the entire season is something the Cyclones haven’t had in five years. That was the year Austen Arnaud led ISU to a season-opening 34-17 win over NDSU in Rhoads’ first game as the Cyclone head coach.

“We have not been able to do that because of injuries,” Rhoads said. “We look forward to having that one guy being the leader. At the same time, we feel blessed we have two starting quarterbacks in our program … but this is Sam’s job and Sam’s season and we’re anxious for him to lead us.”