AMES, Iowa – All West Virginia defensive end Reese Donahue can think about is the laser pointer.
Just in case it wasn’t obvious enough, West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson paused Thursday’s film study with the Mountaineers defense to hammer a point home. Iowa State freshman quarterback Brock Purdy is going to try fool you with his killer pump-fake, just like he did against Oklahoma State the week before.
Despite that training, the lesson didn’t take. Purdy never appeared to get spooked against the West Virginia defense in his second career game and first career start.
Against a mostly veteran defense, the rookie looked like the old hand.
“I can picture it now,” Donahue said. “Sticking the laser pointer on a cut-up of [Purdy]. Over and over and over again, of him doing the pump-fake. And he said, word for word, ‘Fellas, do not fall for this pump-fake. Run through his face every time, and you’ll be fine.
“Honestly, we fell for it. Coach Gibby warned us.”
Gibson can usually trust his cornerbacks to live on an island in man-to-man coverage because West Virginia’s pressure is effective enough to create havoc. But Purdy was the perfect weapon for the Cyclones to counter that aggression. His pump-fake got defenders off their feet as they anticipated a pass to bat down.
“He’s a very smart player, and that’s why he does it,” Donahue said.
Once a Mountaineer was in the air, Purdy had options. He could tuck and run, which he did 11 times for 39 yards. Or he could throw downfield, as he did 25 times. Purdy completed 18 of those passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns.
Crucially, West Virginia never managed to sack the nimble quarterback. While the Mountaineers offense spent seemingly the entire game behind the chains, Iowa State used its quarterback’s mobility to avoid finding itself in the same situation.
“We didn’t tackle. We didn’t get pressure on the quarterback,” Gibson said. “Everything that could have went bad, did… we took a butt-whipping.”