Before the season there were a handful of true freshmen quarterback recruits we thought might see the field in the Big 12 Conference during the 2018 season. Spencer Sanders was coming to Stillwater, Justin Rogers was at TCU, and even Baylor was buzzing about Gerry Bohanon. No one was talking about Brock Purdy.
When the former Arizona high school stand out picked Iowa State over Texas A&M late in the recruiting process, it was a big deal for the Cyclones. Purdy was the 36th-ranked pro-style QB in the country. In 14 games last season, Purdy broke season 6A records for passing yards (4,405) and passing TDs (57).
But no one expected it to pay off this season, especially not as early as October 6th. Iowa State came into the season with Kyle Kempt, who received a sixth season of eligibility and helped lead the Cyclones to two top 5 wins last season and an 8-5 record after taking over for Jacob Park. Then, there was Zeb Noland, who got some playing time last season, and was projected to be Kempt’s back up, might anything go awry.
Well, plenty has gone awry this season for the Iowa State offense. Kempt injured his MCL in the season opener against Iowa and Noland has been underwhelming in his place. Noland had completed 54% of his passes with just two touchdowns in his three games started, and his mobility, or lack thereof, was apparent, as he had -9 rushing yards on the season.
So that takes us to Saturday in Stillwater, where the Cyclones needed a win after a 1-3 start to the season, including 0-2 in Big 12 play. Noland started the game and on the opening series went three and out, and from there on out it was the Brock Purdy show. His first series was also a three and out, but things changed quickly on his second series. He completed a 16-yard pass to Sam Seobuchner, had runs of five and seven yards, and then hooked up with Hakeem Butler from 21 yards out to put ISU up 8-7 in the first quarter, a lead it would never relinquish.
Purdy finished his first career start completing 18 of 23 passes for 318 yards with four touchdowns to one interception as Iowa State beat Oklahoma State 48-42, their first win in Stillwater in 18 years. Oh and that impressive stat line from Purdy was just through the air. On the ground, he led the team with 19 carries for 84 yards and a score. He ran the RPO beautifully at times, and was able to sell the run before pulling it and electing to pass. And when he did pass, his accuracy was incredibly impressive for a true freshman.
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What did Purdy think of his performance? We don’t know, because Iowa State has a policy, although in fairness many programs do, that do not allow freshman to speak to the media.
But his teammates were certainly encouraged, with Hakeem Butler saying, “From the moment he stepped in the game, he had complete control. He was well-prepared. You saw (Saturday) what we’ve been seeing in practice.”
Iowa State totaled 465 total yards, beating out Oklahoma State in that department, while also averaging over 13 yards per pass to OSU’s 8.8. They beat the Pokes at their own game.
Purdy’s dual-threat ability added an element to the Iowa State offense that has been severely lacking in recent games under Noland. His showed great vision when running and deceptive speed.
So suddenly, the Cyclones have some life as we get into the heart of the conference schedule. And there’s no better time for all this to begin happening with the high-powered offense of Will Grier and the West Virginia Mountaineers coming to Ames next week.
But if West Virginia isn’t prepared, it won’t be a Purdy afternoon for the Mountaineers. Just ask the Cowboys.
The kid is the real deal, and while Matt Campbell won’t say it, let’s call it how it is. Purdy will be under center next Saturday. He has to be.
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