Purdy good: Iowa State’s freshman quarterback presents a challenge

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — “A Star Is Born” was the top movie at the box office last weekend, and if reports out of Iowa are to be believed, Bradley Cooper plays the role of Iowa State freshman quarterback Brock Purdy.

At least that’s how it feels. One columnist already dared compare Purdy to Seneca Wallace, the electric gold standard of Iowa State quarterbacks past.

Purdy is the Cyclones third man up behind center this season, but his performance against Oklahoma State was revelatory.

The true freshman from Gilbert, Ariz. who chose Iowa State over Texas A&M and Alabama was 18 of 23 for 318 yards and four touchdowns against the Cowboys. And that’s just what he did through the air. Purdy also ran 19 times for 84 yards and another score in the Cyclones 48-42 win in Stillwater.

“His play-action was good. He had a lot of savvy with the pump-fake,” said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy. “He was certainly a very good player against us.”

West Virginia has one benefit that Oklahoma State did not – video of Purdy in action.

“You watch their first couple of games, and then you turn this one on, it looks like a totally different offense,” said Mountaineers defensive coordinator Tony Gibson.

That said, Gibson also has to prepare for the possibility of seeing Iowa State’s other two quarterbacks in case Purdy proves himself a one-hit wonder. Kyle Kempt, the starter who has been out since a Week 1 injury, returned to practice this week. His replacement, Zeb Noland, started four games in his absence, finally giving way to Purdy after the first drive last week.

Gibson’s defense was forced to prepare for multiple quarterbacks leading up to games against Tennessee, K-State and Kansas.

“The only time we didn’t do it was at Texas Tech,” he said, “and it came back to bite us after their quarterback went out.”

There’s also a chance Kempt and Noland end up becoming the Wally Pipps to Purdy’s Lou Gehrig. With star running back David Montogomery questionable for Saturday’s game, it would certainly make sense for the most mobile of the three quarterbacks to get the nod.

If he is as good as advertised, one wonders how he started the season as the third-stringer in the first place. Iowa State coach Matt Campbell explained that it was a matter of getting Purdy on an even footing with his more veteran quarterbacks – and that it didn’t take long.

“Even in fall camp, everybody was impressed by what he was able to do,” Campbell said. “He’s just bided his time and gotten better every day. Once you sustain that, you’re ready to play somehow, some way. He was prepared for his opportunity when it came.”

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