116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Brock Purdy is Iowa State’s best quarterback of all time.
He owns or shares 25 school records and, assuming he stays healthy, he will own or share several more. A few that he’ll likely break are career completions, career pass attempts and career passing yards. He already owns career passing touchdowns and most career wins.
“I’m going into my fourth year and I know my teammates, I know who can do what and I understand what I have to do with such great talent around me,” Purdy said. “I understand (offensive coordinator) Coach (Tom) Manning and the plays he’s calling and what he’s trying to get out of those plays.”
The biggest knock against Purdy is his decision making.
If a play breaks down or he’s under pressure, he’s been known to sling the ball out there with nothing but a hope and a prayer. That hasn’t gone his way too often — see an interception against TCU and another against Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.
“I think everybody from Coach (Matt) Campbell to Coach Manning to myself has told him, ‘Hey, you can’t make every play. You have to make the right play,’” Iowa State quarterbacks coach Joel Gordon said. “We know it’s never going to be that way — it’d be great if your quarterback never made a mistake or never threw a pick but those things are going to happen. The great thing about Brock is he’s been in mentally-challenging situations and he’s always responded to those. That guy is incredible.”
Gordon cited the Baylor game from last season, when Purdy threw three first-half interceptions. One was a tipped ball, one the receiver ran the wrong route and the third was one Purdy tried to force.
All Purdy did after the three first-half interceptions was throw three second-half touchdowns.
Campbell said that second half against Baylor was a turning point for Purdy last season. Early in the season, he was pressing. Purdy thought his team was leaning on him and relying on him to make every play. That second half, though, Purdy relaxed and played more loose and let the game come to him more.
And that’s how he played the remainder of the season.
It’s a lesson Purdy is glad he learned.
“I thought they wanted a guy and they needed a guy to lean on,” Purdy said. “I wanted to be that guy for them and I felt so much pressure that I put on myself. I just felt like I had to make every play. Now, my teammates expect me to be the quarterback and just do the right thing. There’s no added pressure. They know what I’m going to do for them and I know what they’re going to do for me.”
The second part of that last sentence is the most important.
Purdy knows what his teammates are going to do for him. He can trust them to produce.
Before running back Breece Hall’s emergence, Purdy was the offense in 2019. If he wasn’t going to do it, it probably wasn’t going to get done. But now Purdy has one of the best running backs in college football, an All-America tight end in Charlie Kolar that he can rely on, and a first-team All-Big 12 receiver in Xavier Hutchinson.
Purdy can use the lessons he’s learned over the last three seasons and play as relaxed as he did when he had David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler during his freshman season.
Those things added up should result in a season to remember for the senior.
He could have one more year left if he needed due to the COVID year last season and every player getting an added year of eligibility but Purdy said, “I’m treating this as if this is my last season.”
That means the Cyclones have to have at least one eye on the future.
Luckily for them, they believe they have it in the form of Hunter Dekkers, a West Sioux grad.
Dekkers played toward the end of games last season and showed why he was a coveted four-star recruit. In three games, he completed five of his seven passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed twice, once for a touchdown.
Purdy has seen Dekkers take the next step.
“Just his growth from last year to now — knowing the plays, getting more comfortable in the pocket — those are things you can see a night-and-day difference with him,” Purdy said. “Obviously he got some reps last fall in games and then he had a big spring where he took a really big step forward. He has poise now and he’s understanding what defenses are doing. Before, he was just trying to learn the playbook and run the play, whereas now he’s understanding defenses and situational football.”