With David Montgomery likely sitting out for a half, Brock Purdy must be at his best
Randy Peterson, email@example.com
AMES, Ia. — After five wonderful games in leading 25th-ranked Iowa State to its first five-game Big 12 Conference winning streak in school history, Brock Purdy faces his biggest challenge since trying not to get lost on his first day of classes: He’s heading to Austin, Texas.
He must be at his all-time best next Saturday at Texas, because David Montgomery is probably suspended for the first half, after getting tossed for throwing fists with 10 ½ minutes to play in the third quarter of this Saturday’s 28-14 Cyclone victory against Baylor at Jack Trice Stadium.
There’s no wiggle room.
Purdy must be on his A-game. There’s not usually room for a B or a C, when playing in Big 12 towns other than Lawrence, Kansas.
So for Iowa State to stay on this very real path to the Dec. 1 Big 12 championship game, the Cyclones can’t afford a stinker in Austin — especially with Montgomery a spectator for the first half.
It’s up to the true freshman from Arizona to get his team off to a good start, to quiet the crowd and maybe even anger the Longhorn faithful that’s been known to be vocal a time or two during games.
“The crowd can either be insanely loud — or the loudest the stadium gets is if the fans boo Texas,” former Iowa State back Jeff Woody told me while watching Saturday’s game.
The Cyclones haven’t won in Texas since 2010, and yes, Woody played.
“Get the crowd out of the game early,” Woody advised. “Get the crowd angry.”
We conversed before Montgomery was ejected, but the objective is still the same with him out without for two quarters.
“Fundamentals travel,” Woody said. “And Iowa State has played good, fundamental football this season.”
For the Cyclones to be in this position in mid-November — well, it’s not only a testament to the culture of Campbell’s program, but also to his rookie signal-caller. All he did Saturday was rush for a touchdown, throw for a touchdown and catch a pass for a two-point conversion.
“Brock was incredible,” Campbell said. “He was magnificent, at least the first three quarters.
“If you’re going to be harsh, the only harshness I had when he could have thrown (a ball) away in the third or fourth quarter and maybe taken a sack.
“He was spot on.”
His scrambles and designed runs accounted for 56 yards. He completed 18 of 23 passes for 230 yards. He was a major reason Iowa State’s three first-half possession ended with touchdown, touchdown and field goal.
Statistics aside, Saturday, to me, was his best all-around game.
Remember what he did after chaotic mess on the field that resulted in the ejections?
On the second play after order was somewhat restored, Purdy passed 11 yards to Matthew Eaton on a drive that ended with a 37-yard Connor Assalley field goal.
On the Cyclones’ next possession, Purdy led his offense on four-play, 57-yard drive that ended with Johnnie Lang rushing 8 yards for a touchdown. The possession included a 38-yard completion to Eaton — and Purdy catching the two-point conversion pass from Deshaunte Jones.
“I thought the biggest thing with Brock was the difficulty we had in getting him tackled and on the ground,” Baylor coach Matt Rhule said. “We had multiple chances in the first half to sack him. We knew he’s a pump-fake guy. He does it really, really well — but we still fell for it a couple times.”
But as wonderful as he was for three quarters Saturday, he has to be even more wonderful next week at Texas. His top running back most likely will be a first-half spectator, remember.
“Next man up,” nifty receiver Hakeem Butler said. “We did it before with our quarterbacks, now we have to do it with our running backs. (Montgomery) is the best player in the country. We have to keep it moving.”
It must move with Purdy as the trigger-man in a game Iowa State probably can’t lose if it wants the opportunity to play for the Big 12 title.
“It’s what we always wanted to be,” Campbell said. “From the day we stepped foot on campus, our vision was we wanted an opportunity to play meaningful games in November and hopefully compete for, and win, a Big 12 championship.
“Our best is still out there. It’s all about us now.”
Specifically, it’s about how a freshman-led team plays if its best player is relegated to the sidelines for the first half.
For 30 minutes next Saturday, it’s got to be the “Brock Purdy Show.”
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @RandyPete.
Source: Des Moines Register