Iowa State's season did not get off to the start quarterback Sam Richardson hoped it would, as the Cyclones fell in their opener to Northern Iowa, 28-20.
Richardson, however, said the Cyclones aren't changing the goals they set before the season. Beating rival Iowa this weekend is one of those goals.
As Iowa State heads into a clash with its instate rival, Richardson spoke with ESPN.com about how important the Iowa game is, how he plans to avoid becoming the next flash-in-the-pan Iowa State quarterback and what the players think of head coach Paul Rhoads:
Jake Trotter: How do you feel the outside world views Iowa State?
Sam Richardson: We play in the Big 12, one of the best conferences in college football. Honestly, I think that’s the only respect we get as a program. People, I guess, started to respect a little bit more when we got those wins [Oklahoma State in 2011, Texas in 2010, Nebraska in 2009]. We’ve kinda gotten the respect as a team you can’t overlook.
Trotter: What’s it like to be viewed that way?
Richardson: I love it. I play better as an underdog to be honest with you. It’s something I take pride in. I love it here. It’s something, if we can perform to our ability, we can beat anyone any Saturday. Being the underdog doesn’t phase me one way or the other.
Trotter: What is the key for Iowa State to turn the corner from being just a .500 program?
Richardson: We’ve got the guys to do it. People use the term nitty-gritty games, where it’s the last possession, and we really take advantage of that opportunity. That’s something we failed to do last weekend [against Northern Iowa], [and it's] something we’ll continue to work on.
Trotter: One of the things that has kept Iowa State from turning that corner has been the turn over at quarterback. How do you stop that cycle and show you’re the future at quarterback?
Richardson: I definitely have to be consistent. That’s something I always try to work on. Obviously, I want to be the guy the remaining time I’m here. It’s about staying healthy and being consistent and showing the coaches why I should be the one on the field. That’s something I plan on doing, being the guy.
Trotter: So being consistent is the big key?
Richardson: Every one of those quarterbacks has had those big games. The big thing is being consistent. Something I’ll try to continue to do as the quarterback here.
Trotter: What do the players think of Coach Rhoads?
Richardson: He’s a real passionate coach. The guy loves doing what he does. He gives everything he’s got. The players respect the hell out of him. We love playing for him, all the emotion he shows, the way he leads by character, how he shows how much heart and soul should be put into the game.
Trotter: Describe what Iowa State-Iowa means?
Richardson: It’s Yankees-Red Sox. It’s the biggest thing we’ve got in Iowa. It’s something everyone in Iowa takes pride in. No one in Iowa won’t be watching that game. Every state has that instate rivalry, but imagine a state without pro teams. All eyes are on this game.
Trotter: How important is it to win this game?
Richardson: You never want to lose to the other side of the state, that other city. We’ve definitely got be ready. You’re going to get the best shot from both teams.
Trotter: If you win this game, will you guys be back on track?
Richardson: You could say that. I’d say we’re back on track right now. We expect to win every game. But definitely it would be a big bounce-back win.
Trotter: What would constitute a successful season for you guys?
Richardson: Coach Rhoads set the standard for us to finish in the top half of the Big 12. That’s something we’re striving for. Once we get there, obviously we’ll keep working for more. But that’s the standard.
Trotter: And if you don’t get into the top half of the Big 12?
Richardson: The season will not be successful. That would be a disappointment.
Trotter: Last question – best non-chain place to eat in Ames?
Richardson: Definitely Hickory Park. The best barbecue you can get in Ames. That’s where you take all the recruits on their visits. It’s a great place.