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AMES — Brock Purdy appeared torn.
The question: What did Iowa State’s record-setting quarterback think of Pittsburgh play caller Kenny Pickett’s “fake slide” last Saturday that turned into a 58-yard touchdown run in the Panthers’ 45-21 ACC title game win over Wake Forest?
“Yeah, I think it’s a little controversial right now, if you ask me, because it looked cool at first,” Purdy said in a Tuesday Zoom call largely centered on the Cyclones’ Dec. 29 Cheez-It Bowl matchup with No. 19 Clemson. “But at the same time, there’s the rule of where the quarterback starts to slide is where he’s marked down. There’s stuff a lot of people are gonna be talking about going over, but I think for the safety of the quarterback, sliding now, that can be a little dangerous because defenders are gonna be taught to go all the way through until he’s on the ground to make sure that he slides and then a fake slide doesn’t happen.
“So It’s a little controversial. I don’t know if I have any more thoughts on that.”
Wake Forest Coach Dave Clawson sure did — as you’d expect.
He told reporters after the game that Pickett’s maneuver should prompt the NCAA to devise a rule to prevent it from happening again.
“You just train your players, as soon as your quarterback starts sliding, you stop because if you touch him it's going to be a penalty," Clawson said, according to the Associated Press. "He started his slide, and our kids stopped playing. I don't think he did it intentionally, but if he did, he's brilliant. I just think he reacted as an athlete.
“But what do you tell your players? The quarterback is protected, and there are two guys there who could have made a play but stopped playing because he started to slide.”
Pickett admitted it was intentional, but spurred by instinct and not pre-planned.
“I have never done that before,” the Heisman Trophy finalist said. “I just kind of kept going after I initially started to slide.”
Therein lies the potential problem.
The slide rule is designed to protect quarterbacks. Gaming the rule could remove some of that protection.
“I’ve got to give the quarterback credit for trying it — and obviously it working really well,” said Iowa State linebacker Jake Hummel, who will play in his fifth career bowl game when his team faces the Tigers in three weeks. “But at the same time, I do think it could create some problems if it starts to become a thing. … As a defensive player, you try to (err) on the side of caution when it comes to a quarterback running in the open field, so it’s tough on the defense, for sure.”
Purdy said he would not consider adding the “fake slide” to his broad-ranging repertoire.
He’s got his own thing, after all.
“I wouldn’t fake slide,” he said. “I would do the Purdy pump (fake) on them.”