116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Matt Campbell’s favorite word is “process” and his favorite phrase is “become the best version of yourself you can be.”
After a few seasons, he’s got Brock Purdy, his starting quarterback, fully indoctrinated.
“We want to be the best versions of ourselves we can be,” Purdy said when asked what the goal is for the upcoming season. “I know you’ve heard Coach say that a bunch and you’ve probably heard me say it a lot, too. But honestly, if we could do that with the leadership that we have and the experience we have on our team, I feel like a goal with that should be to win every game.
“That should be our goal. That’s the goal. Every team we play, we have a chance to beat if we do our part and play our game.”
Iowa State just finished its best season ever, finishing alone atop the Big 12 standings, playing in its first-ever conference championship game and playing and winning its first-ever New Year’s Six Bowl.
The Cyclones return most of their key players, including Purdy, who already holds nearly every quarterback record at Iowa State — he has 25 of them, at least.
Still, there’s more for the senior to improve on if he wants to reach the goal the team has set for itself.
“For me personally, I want to polish up my decision making and limit the turnovers,” Purdy said. “I want to be me and lead these guys and do something even more extraordinary than we did last year.”
Turnovers are Purdy’s only real bugaboo as a player, and most of them come when he’s trying to do too much.
“He’d be the first one to tell you that he has to get rid of some of those decisions that could end up being game-changers,” Iowa State quarterbacks coach Joel Gordon said. “One of his best qualities is he’s his own worst critic when he needs to be and he can honestly evaluate how he plays on the football field and he wants to be coached. He doesn’t shy away from those conversations.
“Look at the Baylor game — he had three turnovers in the first half, comes back in the second half of that game and the next five or six games, he plays lights out.”
In the five games after the Baylor game, Purdy passed for 1,273 yards and nine touchdowns while completing 73 percent of his passes.
Even though he ended the season on a tear, when Purdy sat down with Campbell, he emphasized the importance of not trying to do too much.
“I feel like that’s been a part of my game — trying to make the play instead of trying to make the right play,” Purdy said. “As I continue to grow, I have to understand how to manage the game. I can’t win a game in one play. Talking with the coaches about that has been really valuable.”
While areas of his decision making need fine tuning, and Purdy is the first to admit it, Gordon wanted to set the record straight.
“Even saying he needs to work on his decision making could be taken the wrong way,” Gordon said. “Brock makes a lot of really good decisions and he’s done that throughout his career. You don’t win as many games as he has for three years without making really good decisions.”
It’s just the high-risk, low-reward plays — like his interception against TCU — that need to be eliminated.
If Purdy can clean up his turnovers and Iowa State can come out of the gates in midseason form and not stumble in the first couple games like it has in years past, it could be in for a special season.
“We’ve all sat down with Coach Campbell and we’ve gone over what it’s going to take to get where we want,” Purdy said. “Right when we got back from winter break after the Fiesta Bowl, we looked at the games we lost and asked ourselves, ‘Why did that happen?’ And then we looked at the games we won but were close games and asked ourselves, ‘how can we separate even more?’
“We have a lot of mature people in this building and we all have the right state of mind going into this year. I don’t think (saying our goals) is any added pressure for us. We have our own standard. If we stick together and listen and grow from one another, then we’ll be able to reach any goal we set for ourselves.”