Over the next two weeks, we will be examining the most indispensable player for every team in the Big 12. In other words, the player each team could least afford to lose to injury.
We're knocking on wood before we turn in these posts; so no need to worry about a jinx.
We continue below with the Iowa State Cyclones.
Most indispensable player: Quarterback Sam B. Richardson.
2014 stats: 60.9 Adjusted QBR, 254 of 451 pass attempts (56.3 percent) for 2,669 yards, 5.9 yards per attempt, 18 touchdowns, nine interceptions, 26 sacks, 125 carries for 421 yards and three touchdowns, one fumble lost.
Why ISU can't afford to lose him: He brings 25 games worth of experience to the Cyclones' offense, bringing peace of mind other Big 12 teams should envy.
Richardson has started at least two games for the Cyclones in each of the past three seasons, giving Mark Mangino a veteran to run his offense this fall. A pair of games against Texas -- 726 total yards and six touchdowns combined in last minute losses in 2013 and 2014 -- provided a glimpse of Richardson's potential to be a game-changing quarterback in the Big 12.
This fall, Paul Rhoads' team will be hoping Richardson brings more consistency to his play. If he does, the Cyclones could see themselves return to a bowl game in 2015. As one of four Cyclones quarterbacks to run for more than 1,000 career yards, Richardson provides a run-pass threat that keeps defenses honest. And he will have a terrific trio of pass-catchers at his disposal in Allen Lazard, D'Vario Montgomery and Quenton Bundrage, which could make him one of the conference's most productive quarterbacks.
Grant Rohach and Joel Lanning sit behind him on the depth chart but neither quarterback can approach the experience brought to the table by Richardson. He should allow Mangino to do things he wouldn't be able to do without a senior signal-caller.
Entering his fifth year in the program, Richardson is the most important player on the roster. He's been through Big 12 battles, he should be better in Year 2 under Mangino and he can impact games in a variety of ways. The Winter Park, Florida, native would be difficult to replace.