Mike Warren earned the headlines against Kansas with a school freshman record 175 rushing yards as Iowa State gained more than 200 yards on the ground for the second game in a row. The last time that happened was the final two games of 2013.
The biggest beneficiary of Warren’s breakout might have been quarterback Sam Richardson. A quarterback’s best friend is a good rushing attack. During Sam’s three years as the on-again, off-again starting QB, Iowa State has rushed for more than 200 yards six times.
In two of those outings – the previously noted Kansas and West Virginia games of 2013 – Sam was out of the lineup.
The four games that Richardson has behind the center and the run game registered more than 200 yards included Toledo and Kansas this fall, Texas Tech in 2014 and Texas in 2013. In those outings, Richardson completed 67% of his throws, averaged 276 yards passing per game and the team scored 30.5 points per game.
There were 16 games (not counting five outings in 2013 when Richardson threw a total of 44 passes in spot duty) when the Cyclones failed to reach 200 rushing yards with Richardson at the controls. Richardson completed 57% of his attempts, threw for 235 yards per game and the team tallied less than 25 points per game in those games.
Ah, the benefits of the run game.
Coach Paul Rhoads has been seeking a consistently productive run game for a couple of seasons. If the last two games are the beginning of a trend, Warren will continue to get the headlines. But, there will also be a fifth-year quarterback reaping the benefits without as much fanfare.