AMES, IOWA — There was a twinge in Joel Lanning’s stomach early Monday afternoon as he stood on the upper floor of the Bergstrom Football Complex contemplating what he will face Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.
The redshirt sophomore quarterback met with new offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy earlier Monday morning, where he was informed of the decision to make him Iowa State’s new starting quarterback, supplanting senior signal-caller Sam Richardson after a strong outing in relief of the veteran Saturday.
“Nothing changes really,” Lanning said of his newfound role. “Just prepare yourself like you have before and try to get a ‘W’.”
The biggest change is that Lanning’s duties won’t come in a specially designed package for the big, 6-foot-2, 230-pounder or in relief in a mop-up role. Lanning, who got his first glimpse of running Iowa State’s true offense in the fourth quarter two weeks ago against Texas Tech, will now take the reins of the offense fulltime.
After briefly showing his skillset in Iowa State’s blowout loss against Texas Tech, to the tune of 5-of-9 passing for 41 yards, Lanning received a larger taste in Saturday’s loss. With the Cyclones trailing 35-0 midway through the second quarter, Lanning took over.
The redshirt sophomore finished 12-of-17 with 144 yards and three touchdown passes, two of which were precision throws into the corner of the end zone.
“I think 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,” coach Paul Rhoads said. “Secondly, Joel’s performance all year has been solid, but his performance in the second half, especially, was really sharp, earning him the role and opportunity to start this game.”
Lanning is hoping the past experience — adding up to about one full game’s worth — will help him in his first start Saturday against Texas.
“My first playing experience with Tech, actually running the offense, was huge. And then last week, it was even bigger, just going out there and playing confident and having fun,” Lanning said. “So I feel like I can carry it over into this week.”
Combined with the departure of offensive coordinator Mark Mangino on Monday morning, Lanning’s promotion isn’t expected to create waves of change in the offense. Lanning is thought to be a stronger runner than his counterpart Richardson and has opened the run game by keeping the ball more frequently in the read-option, but Rhoads said there won’t be sweeping changes in scheme or play-calling.
Lanning, meanwhile, plans to prepare just the same.
“I had my package or whatever that they were going to do for me, so I had to prepare myself for that anyways like I was going to get into games and I was going to [play],” Lanning said. “Nothing’s really going to change. I’m just going to be getting more reps.”
Yet that twinge signified Monday that something is different.
“It hasn’t even really hit me yet,” Lanning said. “I’m just thinking about it — my stomach’s kind of eating at me a little bit. I’m not really getting hungry, just thinking about Saturday and being a little nervous, but there’s no reason to be at all. It’s just like another week.”
Except come Saturday, Lanning will be Iowa State’s newest signal-caller.
“This is what I’ve wanted since I’ve been here, is to get a chance. Now I’ve got to go out there and prove that I can play, do it again and be successful,” Lanning said. “It was just kind of getting my feet wet a little bit in the past, but now it’s the real deal so I’ve got to go out there and perform. I’ll be ready. I had to be ready every other week, so I’ll be ready.”