One week after falling to 0-2 record for the first time under ISU coach Paul Rhoads, one simple thing remains a priority for the football team — health.
Two of the most important players on offense — the center and the quarterback — are the ones who welcomed this unconventional second bye week as a time for recovery. Sophomore quarterback Sam Richardson is still getting back to full strength from a right ankle injury he suffered at the end of a week-one loss to Northern Iowa.
Junior center Tom Farniok, who suffered a sprained MCL against Northern Iowa is also expected to start against Tulsa on Thursday after missing practice and games for a third consecutive week.
“Both remarkably improved,” Rhoads said at his weekly news conference Monday. “Tom will start. [He] practiced yesterday and reported this morning with minimal pain from yesterday’s workout. Sam will be much better than he was in the Iowa game, but he’s far from healthy. It’s a lingering type of injury that may bother him throughout the course of the season.”
Richardson played the entirety of the game against the Hawkeyes on Sept. 14, but was visibly not 100 percent there in terms of health. He finished the game with only eight total carries for 12 yards.
That mark is down from a healthy week one performance of 21 carries for 74 yards. Through two games, Richardson is averaging 2.9 yards per carry, which is nearly half of last year’s 5.7 average.
“This is a physical sport. Quite honestly, there aren’t many guys, once you start playing games, that are playing 100-percent healthy,” Rhoads said. “He’s certainly more noticeable because he’s touching the ball every snap, and our quarterback has to be involved in the run game.
“It’ll be a decision that we’ll utilize moving forward. If that can’t be a viable part of our offense with him in there, then we’ll look to adjust.”
Speaking with the media after the 27-21 loss to the Hawkeyes, senior running back Jeff Woody called the offense “handcuffed” with a lack of Richardson’s mobility. On Monday, Rhoads referenced the first play of the game, that with a healthy quarterback, could’ve gone for a score.
“Obviously after the game he was sore and everyone knew he was hobbled,” said ISU senior wide receiver Justin Coleman. “There might’ve been a few more balls in there on the read-option where he might’ve pulled through I would imagine."
“He makes a lot of people miss in the open field but I don’t know if he felt 100-percent confident in that against Iowa.”