Oklahoma State has gotten plenty used to quarterback switches, as the Cowboys needed three starters last season as part of an injury-driven carousel at the position.
But this is new territory for first-year offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich.
“No. I never have (been in this situation),” Yurcich said. “But we feel we have two good quarterbacks and we need to make sure we're doing what we can to help them improve and get them playing at a high level.
“It starts with ball security. That is something we must have. We preach it and work on it every day in practice. It's about getting the ball to our playmakers and creating space for them.”
Yurcich certainly didn't need to worry about making a performance-based change at the position last season at Shippensburg, as Zach Zulli was arguably the best small-school player in the country. He won the Harlon Hill Trophy, Division II's equivalent of the Heisman, after racking up 4,747 passing yards, 54 touchdowns and 10 interceptions to go along with 224 rushing yards and two scores.
SHAMIEL GARY UNDERRATED ON OSU DEFENSE
Plenty of the usual suspects made plays for the OSU defense Saturday against TCU.
Linebacker Caleb Lavey collected five tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception. Free safety Daytawion Lowe led the team with six tackles and snagged a pick. Defensive end Tyler Johnson tallied three tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a sack. Cornerback Justin Gilbert finished with five tackles and an interception.
Yet strong safety Shamiel Gary was named the game's defensive MVP after totaling five tackles — all solo — and three pass breakups. It was the latest effort in a season where Gary could be regarded as one of the Cowboys' most improved and most underrated players.
“I just feel like I'm trying to be consistent, play like I've been playing every week,” Gary said, “and just watching film and recognizing what they're doing on game days.
“Anytime a play comes my way, I'm trying to make a play. If I don't get the interception, I'm trying to break up the pass. And if it's time to make the solo tackle, I'm gonna try to make the solo tackle.”
On the season, Gary leads the Cowboys with seven pass breakups and ranks second with 35 tackles.
OPPONENT WATCH: SAM RICHARDSON TO REMAIN IOWA STATE STARTING QB
Mike Gundy will keep Iowa State guessing about who will start at quarterback for the Cowboys in Ames. But Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads will not do the same to OSU.
Rhoads announced Tuesday that Iowa State will stick with Sam Richardson, who was replaced by Grant Rohach in the middle of the Cyclones' 71-7 loss at Baylor last week.
“Sam is going to start and we plan on him playing at a higher level with his physical health,” Rhoads said during his weekly press conference. “He has to make smarter decisions and quicker judgments.”
Richardson, a sophomore who took over starting duties late last season, has completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,255 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions so far in 2013. Rohach, a redshirt freshman making his collegiate debut, completed eight of his 13 passes for 65 yards, one touchdown and one interception against Baylor.
“Sam's knowledge is far ahead quite simply where Grant's knowledge is,” Rhoads said. “That's time and experience and that is an important factor and remains an advantage for Sam as the year goes along.”