Below is the Q&A from the media scrum with Sam Richardson and Paul Rhoads on Monday morning.
For our extensive Sam Richardson-wins-the-QB-job story, click here
Q: What will fans see different from you this year?
Richardson: "New offense and a new style of playing I guess, we'll see."
Q: What allowed you to win the job?
Richardson: "The main thing I was focusing on was consistency and that I think was the one thing that stood out between the two of us. I think I was more consistent in practices, not really having a low day at all throughout the camp. That really paid off in my advantage."
Q: Rhoads made it pretty clear that it's your job, you won't need to look over your shoulder. How much will that help you?
Richardson: "Yeah, obviously that helps. Going through camp, you've still gotta compete and stuff. Going out there every day, knowing that you've got to give it your best effort to get the job. You can't get complacent now … you've got to know any time if you're struggling there's a chance you're gonna get pulled out of the game. It's nice to know he says that but at the same time you've still got to play to your best every day."
Q: Almost a sense of relief?
Richardson: "I'm excited, I'm pretty pumped. Obviously, going out there the first game is an awesome feeling, just want to get out there with those guys. Love those guys out there and want to get on the field."
Q: When did Sturdy tell you?
Richardson: "I had a good feeling about it. All last week I felt pretty good about it and I guess today was the final word."
Q: How is this all different from this time a year ago?
Richardson: "[Last year] I knew earlier going into the season and this year it's more getting used to the offense and everything, so it's still getting to where we're perfecting an offense — it's not a system we've been in a while. I think that's the main difference right now, still getting the wrinkles figured out."
Q: Is there a moment you can look back to last year, a particular tough time, in which the road back maybe started?
Richardson: "Yeah, I guess sitting on the sidelines for the last two wins, that was one of the huge things for me. Obviously it's awesome for the team to go out there and win, those are all my buddies out there. At the same time, you want to be out there on the field. You've got to refocus yourself."
Q: Is there something you can look to as a key point — maybe something you did over the summer — that helped you win the job back?
Richardson: "Um, I guess maybe trying to learn the offense. Other than that, getting stronger and putting weight on. That was the main thing I did this summer."
Q: How does the weight help you?
Richardson: "Just all-around I'm stronger. Out on the field, being able to maybe fend off more tackles if that kind of thing happens."
Q: Knowing how quickly things can change, does having the starting job again make you appreciate it more?
Richardson: "You want to take it by the reins and run with it. Not giving up an opportunity like that. It's something you dream about it as a kid and getting the opportunity to do it again is obviously something you want to do."
Q: Mangino says you're a laid-back guy but when you get on the field he wants you to play with your hair on fire. Have they asked you to assume a role as a vocal leader?
Richardson: "We've got a lot of leaders on our team and some guys stand out — obviously, the captains — but at the same time a lot of guys lead by example. That's kind of how I've led throughout my whole life. But I guess kinda now you've got lead more with your words, especially if you're a quarterback. That's kinda a given you've got to be the vocal guy so that's a role I'm trying to settle into."
Q: Has your demeanor changed on the field?
Richardson: "Honestly, I don't think so. Practice-wise, it's kinda been the same."
Q: How good of a situation is it for you with all the targets?
Richardson: "We're returning the gist of our offense. Its should be a good opportunity with a [coach] who has quite a resume of getting points on the board. I'm excited for it."
Q: What has working with Todd taught you?
Richardson: "Yeah he's a guy he's worked with quarterbacks before. He knows what he's talking about. He was at a program in Washington State that could spread the ball around and really attack you in the passing game so it's been a great thing for me. I've learned more poise and patience as a quarterback. I think it's really worked out for me so far."
Q: You make it sound so simple but from being third-string in the spring and building your way back up, like there's nothing to it. But were there any moments when you were really low and had to have a pick-me-up?
Richardson: "I don't know, I guess coming into camp knowing that the job is up for grabs and there for the taking. Going into it with a new focus."
Q: Were you able talk to anybody that helped you when you were down on yourself?
Richardson: "I always talk to everyone back home, those guys I played high school ball with, the coaches I worked with. Those guys can refocus me if I needed it. But I kind of kept it all to myself."
Paul Rhoads Opening Statement"Sam Richardson is our starting quarterback. He's had a tremendous fall camp up to this point. I'll tell you why. He's displayed great leadership and that certainly includes poise in the pocket where he's been very much in control of our offense and of himself. His understanding of the scheme and decision-making has really grown in the last two weeks and maybe as much as anything, he's throwing a great ball: A tight ball, an accurate ball, a catchable ball, a ball that's being thrown and receivers are catching it on the run and not having to stop for it.
"He's a great runner, hopefully we can keep him healthy and put those running skills on display as the season goes along."
Q: When did you notice the change in Sam?
Rhoads: "It was evident in Day 1 of fall camp. And you'er talking about a lot of time from the end of spring until August, as far as throwing balls and working on the ints Todd Sturdy's put in place. With that understand and confidence, it relays into your physical skills as well and since Day 1 we've seen that change."
Q: What are some of the things Sam did to build himself up?
Rhoads: "You had 15 days of new teaching progression as a quarterback. Things such as grip, something Todd talks about a lot is your platform — where your two feet are positioned and how you go from your back foot to your front foot in certain throws, and the follow-through. So 15 days to learn that and months to go out and practice it and improve upon it. As well as the strength changes that have taken place in his body."
Q: How big was the mental component for Sam?
Rhoads: "Yeah, extremely important. There's no position on the field confidence isn't important to. And yeah, he was down. There was a point in the spring where he was on the bottom looking up. A lot of credit goes to him. His thick skin, his self-drive and motivation to compete and at this level you need that competition. That's truly what we had going on. And he surfaced."
Q: How close was Grant to winning the job?
Rhoads: "It went through last week, there's no question about that. There's a lot that can take place in a practice, a scripted environment, that's different from a Saturday. So getting to that [second scrimmage] was important. Grant's not disappointing to us and he's a better quarterback than he was when he beat %%MATCH_17%% and West Virginia."
Q: How quick are you to go to Grant if Sam falters?
Rhoads: "No no, Sam's our starting quarterback and there won't be any kind of hand on his shoulder or anything like that to worry about."