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Iowa State's Marchie Murdock makes his presence known in red zone

Transfer receiver a viable option in addition to ISU's big targets

Iowa State wide receiver Marchie Murdock (right) dives for yards as he is pulled down by Kansas cornerback Kyle Mayberry (left) during the Cyclones’ 45-0 victory last week at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

AMES — When Iowa State gets into the red zone, receiver Marchie Mudock’s mindset changes.

It’s time to get into the end zone, it’s time to score.

The Illinois transfer has had a breakout season for the Cyclones. One out of every four passes that Murdock catches results in a touchdown.

He’s caught four touchdown passes in his 16 receptions; the four touchdowns are tied with Allen Lazard for the most receiving touchdowns on the team.

“You just try to make a play,” Murdock said. “Last game, I just saw the end zone and I was trying to get in there. You don’t want it to get into the kicker’s hands. We have a great kicker, but you want to score touchdowns and finish teams off and that’s what we have to learn how to do. For us as receivers we want the ball in the red zone. Give us that opportunity and see if we can make a play.”

Murdock was a relative unknown when he came to Iowa State, having only caught 24 passes in his career before transferring.

But Coach Matt Campbell said the 6-foot-1 receiver had one of the best springs that he had ever seen and said at the time Murdock could be a breakout player for the Cyclones.

“Marchie is one of those guys that’s a great success story in my opinion,” Campbell said. “He had a great spring for us and was really impressive, especially when you know you have some young guys coming like Hakeem (Butler) and Matt Eaton comes into the fold. Marchie is just one of those guys who’s on a mission from the end of last football season. He’s just brought a lot of consistency and really a lot of passion to be the best to our football program.”

In the spring, Murdock got together with quarterbacks Kyle Kempt, Jacob Park and Zeb Noland, along with the other receivers, to work on their timing and routes. He said that’s helped his transition.

Campbell said that the redshirt senior came in and worked every day with a purpose. The second-year coach said his work ethic has made a huge impact to Iowa State football and Iowa State’s other receivers.

“I think everything just started to click,” Murdock said.

And it’s a good thing it did because in the red zone, where he’s had so much success, Iowa State has needed him. The 6-foot-5 Lazard and the 6-foot-6 Butler routinely draw two defenders, leaving Murdock in one-on-one situations.

“Allen is a great red-zone target,” Murdock said. “All of his touchdowns are in the red zone. He does take a lot of pressure off of me because he’s able to get most of the attention. Also, I have Hakeem Butler who’s the tallest slot receiver I’ve ever seen. With those guys being in the red zone, big targets, they’re going to get most of the attention — I just have to win my matchup.”

Murdock has made sure he turns up his intensity once Iowa State crosses the 20-yard line.

“It’s time to go,” Murdock said. “It’s time to score. Finish the drive. We got all the way into the red zone, now let’s finish the drive. Either it’s David (Montgomery) running the ball or me catching the ball or Allen or whoever it is. Make a play and score a touchdown.”

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