Rohach remains atop Cyclones’ QB depth chart
AMES – For better or worse, Grant Rohach likely will start at quarterback for Iowa State the rest of the season.
Rohach is confident it will be for the better, at least when it comes to his own play. Rohach, a redshirt freshman, made his first career start in Iowa State’s 21-17 loss to TCU last Saturday and did not play well. He acknowledged as much after the game and had that impression confirmed after reviewing the film.
“I don’t think I graded out very well,” he said Monday. “I made poor choices with the ball, which can’t happen being the quarterback. But knowing those are things we can improve on is something that’s good about the game.”
Rohach and the rest of the offense will have to get better if the Cyclones (1-8, 0-6 Big 12) are to stand any chance of hanging in next Saturday’s game at No. 22 Oklahoma (7-2, 4-2)
In fairness to Rohach, TCU brought the Big 12’s No. 3 pass defense to Ames. He struggled early, misfiring on five of his first six passes, but he played better in the second half and led a couple of snappy drives, though they produced only three points.
Rohach, who finished 18 of 38 for 148 yards, expects to be better from the start this week.
“You face some nerves in the game, obviously. It’s a big thing to get your first start,” he said. “But I think as the game went on, I became more calm and even now I have more confidence in myself and in our offense because of how we played in the third quarter.”
Coach Paul Rhoads alternated Rohach with previous starter Sam Richardson throughout the TCU game, a couple of times on the same series. Rhoads said he hasn’t decided yet if he’ll use the same rotation at Oklahoma, though Rohach said he thinks that approach will continue.
Richardson has been banged up all season with ankle, head, shoulder and thumb injuries. The thumb injury is the main issue now because it hampers his throwing, Rhoads said.
Rhoads said there’s still a role for Richardson because he runs better than Rohach. But Rohach is the better passer now, so he gets the job.
“He gives us the best opportunity when it comes to that right now – right now meaning Oklahoma week,” Rhoads said.
Rhoads stopped short of saying Rohach would start the rest of the season, but he wouldn’t have much choice as long as Rohach is the healthier of the two.
Rohach is the sixth different starter in the revolving door at quarterback that has occurred during Rhoads’ five seasons. Whether it was because of injuries or ineffective play, Rhoads has never gone through a season with the same starter.
“Being at Iowa State the last two years, you know quarterback conflict is something that’s most likely going to be there,” Rohach said. “So I wouldn’t say it’s something out of the norm. But yeah, I think it kind of puts guys on edge a little bit. But staying focused on the game plan and believing in whoever is out there is the main key.”
A better start in Saturday’s game would help everyone’s confidence.
The Cyclones have yet to score on an opening possession this season and went three-and-out on six of them. They went three-and-out in their first four possessions against TCU.
“It’s pretty draining as an offense,” Rohach said. “You want success every down, and to not get it as often as you like or as early in the plays is frustrating.”
No matter who finishes the season as the starter, Rhoads said the competition for the job will reopen in January. Rohach would help himself in that battle with a strong finish, but insists he isn’t looking that far ahead.
“I think that’s something that’s very important, to gain momentum as a player into the offseason by playing well into the last few games,” he said. “But I don’t think my focus is on solidifying the quarterback job. I think my focus is on trying to get this team to run as efficiently as possible and win games.”
Right now, that’s enough of a challenge.