It’s been almost a full year that Brock Purdy has been Iowa State’s star quarterback. What can he do to continue the Cyclones’ October string of wins?
Randy Peterson, email@example.com
Neal Brown is seeing from afar what Iowa State fans have seen up close. The West Virginia coach has seen enough video to call Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy potentially one of the top two quarterbacks in the Big 12 Conference.
“He’s in the conversation to be the best quarterback we’ve played,” Brown said on Monday’s Big 12 teleconference. “I’m so impressed with what he’s done.”
That’s high praise for the Cyclones sophomore, considering the Mountaineers have already faced Missouri’s Kelly Bryant and Texas’ Sam Ehlinger.
Brown, new to West Virginia this season, will be seeing Iowa State and Purdy for the first time in person during Saturday’s 3 p.m. game in Morgantown, West Virginia.
“He’s throwing the football down the field,” Brown said. “His long speed is good, plus he’s big enough to run physical.
“Early on, I saw the numbers that (Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts) is putting up. “(Purdy) is in contention to be looked at as one of the top players in our league offensively, for sure.”
Purdy is coming off a big performance during last Saturday’s 49-24 victory against TCU, in which he beat the Horned Frogs with his accurate right arm, and via his feet.
He had coach Gary Patterson’s defense off-balance throughout the long afternoon, not only by completing 19 of 24 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns, but also by rushing for a team-leading 102 yards on 12 carries.
“How they run Purdy is quite a big difference than how (Texas) runs Ehlinger,” Brown said. “Brock is faster than some of the other dual-threat quarterbacks that we’ve played.”
Purdy leads Cyclone rushers with 203 yards. Passing, he’s 121 of 171 for 1,578 yards and 10 touchdowns against just two interceptions. His passing yards is No. 1 in the Big 12, but that’s a bit skewed, considering Hurts didn’t play much more than a half in non-conference blowouts against Louisiana Tech and Rice. Purdy’s 316.5-yard passing average also is the best among Big 12 quarterbacks.
“They do a good job when they decide to use the quarterback in the run game,” Brown said. “They put you in situations where you have to tackle one-on-one, and a lot of those situations are safeties and maybe even a cornerback.
“He has a really strong lower body, and he’s fast. He’s broken a lot of tackles this year. That’s a credit to him, and it’s something our guys have to be aware of.”
Purdy has made transitioning from David Montgomery, now the Chicago Bears starter, more livable.
“He’s a guy that has the ability at times to be an equalizer in the running game, while we’ve kind of steadied the ship of some of these new young running backs,” Campbell said. “Johnnie Lang’s taken a really good step forward. Kene Nwangwu, when he’s been healthy, has done a great job for us … as we continue to build and grow.”
Last season, the Cyclones’ identity was Montgomery and receiver Hakeem Butler. Plays went through them. This season, it’s Purdy.
“A lot has gone through the quarterback, who obviously we know is a very good football player,” Campbell said. “It’s different than last year, when (the offense) was built around David and Hakeem.
“This year, it’s totally through Brock’s skill set, both running and passing and certainly in our run game.”
Randy Peterson is the Iowa State columnist for the Register. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete. No one covers the Cyclones like the Register. Subscribe today at Des Moines Register.com/Deal to make sure you never miss a moment.
Source: Des Moines Register