A story that didn't get too much attention Monday amid the other big news at Iowa State and around the Big 12: ISU quarterback Joel Lanning is finally getting his shot.
The sophomore quarterback will make his first career start Saturday against Texas. Though he's taking over during a rocky week in which offensive coordinator Mark Mangino was dismissed, there's reason to be optimistic about what's next for Lanning.
He threw for 144 yards and three touchdowns on the road at Baylor after entering the game in the second quarter. To ISU coach Paul Rhoads, the fact Lanning gave this struggling team some extra juice was unmistakable.
“The biggest piece that came out of Saturday’s performance was the energy level of our football team — not just our offense but our football team — when he took over,” Rhoads told reporters Monday. “It probably wasn’t as apparent on television as it was on our sideline and in the stadium and our locker room.”
Benching respected senior captain Sam B. Richardson is a move Rhoads and the staff have long resisted, but now was the right time. Richardson completed 3 of 11 passes against the Bears for 12 yards and tossed two interceptions, finishing with a QBR of 0.9.
Lanning gives the Cyclones the best opportunity against Texas in a game that looked like a must-win prior to the Mangino firing. Hard to know what to call it now, other than a big opportunity for Lanning to prove he's ready.