By Rob Gray
AMES — Have ball, will carry.
When you’re a quarterback running a zone read-based rushing offense, the football’s going to remain in your hands plenty of times per game.
But 21 carries — like banged-up ISU playcaller Sam Richardson had in the 28-20 season-opening loss to Northern Iowa?
“Obviously some of those were not good judgment on my part,” Richardson, who is nursing a right ankle injury, said last week. “Just trying to make something happen with my feet and maybe rushing sometimes. But at the same time, if you have to carry it that many times, that’s what the offense is made for.”
Richardson, Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads said Monday, performed “well” in Sunday’s practice.
His health — along with a smattering of depth chart changes — became key storylines heading into Saturday’s 5 p.m. Fox Sports 1-televised Cy-Hawk Series rivalry game with Iowa at Jack Trice Stadium.
Richardson, who was not part of Monday’s news conference, wore a walking boot last week, but as a precautionary measure.
This week, it’s full speed ahead as the Winter Park, Fla., native seeks his first win as a starter.
“(He) had good work with the scouts and was very limited last week, intentionally,” Rhoads said. “Could have practiced, but we thought it was best not to tweak it or put any extra stress on that.”
So Richardson should start, as expected, but there was a not entirely unforeseen shake-up in the two-deeps around him.
Luke Knott, a redshirt freshman linebacker, has moved past junior Jevohn Miller at the WILL position.
“He played better,” Rhoads said of Knott, who recorded six tackles and a pass breakup in part-time duty. “Every position is always under evaluation and performance in a position like that, with two guys splitting time in the game — he played better.”
Cornerback Sam Richardson — not to be confused with the quarterback — is slated to start at left corner ahead of redshirt freshman and former Iowa City West star Charlie Rogers.
Richardson had a team-high 13 tackles in the loss to the Panthers.
“Did he get attacked a little bit in the (UNI) game?” Rhoads said. “Yes, but it was more positioning than it was him, meaning he was into the boundary and they threw his direction a little bit more because of that. But he’s really played well from Aug. 5 on and has graded out higher than Charlie in that period.”
Explosive Iowa Western transfer Aaron Wimberly rose to the top spot at kick returner.
He replaces receiver Quenton Bundrage, who averaged 17 yards a return.
Wimberly darted 31 yards in his only attempt.
“It’s another catch opportunity, I should say it’s another hands-on-the-ball opportunity, for Aaron,” Rhoads said.
Richardson — who threw for 242 yards and ran for 74 against UNI — will still enjoy lots of those, whether on a recently-healed ankle or not.
“I’m counting on him to have great strength in that ankle and be ready to run everything that our offense calls for him to run,” Rhoads said.
WATSON RETURNS: ISU’s top cover corner, Jansen Watson, will be back after serving a one-game suspension for violating team rules. “He’s definitely a playmaker,” strong safety Deon Broomfield said.
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