For the first time since Austen Arnaud in 2019, Iowa State saw the same quarterback start every single game in a season as Brock Purdy took firm hold of the starting job and fought through various injuries to keep that streak throughout the season. Well, here we are a year later, and Brock’s start streak is still alive dating back to his 2018 debut at Oklahoma State. Let’s take a look at what he and the rest of the room accomplished this season.
It would be difficult to imagine a worse start to the season than Brock Purdy had against Louisiana. The passing game, absent star tight end Charlie Kolar, struggled mightily, with 15 completing just sixteen of his thirty-five pass attempts (45.7%) and an interception, but not touchdown passes. The rhythm in the passing game was non-existent, and he seemed to be force-feeding the ball to Xavier Hutchinson, who was still trying to get up to speed in the Power 5 game.
The second game at TCU showed significant improvement for Purdy, as he finished 18-of-23 passing (78.3%) with one touchdown and (technically) no interceptions, though it did feature maybe the worst play any of us have ever seen. I’m not going to put the clip in here because you all know which play I’m talking about, and nobody needs to see that again. Still got the W though, so no big deal.
Oklahoma was statistically not a great game, finishing with just 50% completions (though 21 yards per completion) and a touchdown, but Brock made quite a few winning plays that needed to be made for Iowa State to win. Pretty much a classic nitty-gritty performance in a massive win.
After a solid and largely uneventful win over Texas Tech, Brock struggled a bit against Oklahoma State, a team that gave him a lot of trouble in 2019. He finished 19-of-34 passing with one touchdown and one interception in the Cyclones’ only conference loss of the season.
The next game against was a predictably good performance from Brock in an otherwise boring game. The most intriguing portion of this game may have actually been the garbage time snaps we saw from highly-touted true freshman Hunter Dekkers. He completed his only two pass attempts, but the second completion was this absolute DIME to Joe Scates in the endzone.
The next game at home against Baylor ended up being one of the wildest games we’ve seen in awhile, and, retrospectively, was a pivotal turning point for a team that was winning, but had done so without playing a game up to that point that anyone would consider to being anywhere near the potential of the team.
The first half was grim, with Brock Purdy throwing not one, not two, but three interceptions in the opening half and essentially gifting Baylor a 21-10 halftime lead. After the impressive touchdown pass we saw from Hunter Dekkers just a week earlier, some fans (though not a majority) were calling to see the young freshman get some snaps and try to change the fortune of the game.
Unsurprisingly, Brock was given his well-earned shot at redemption and took the most of it, starting Iowa State on a streak of the most dominant 14 quarters of football in school history. In the second half, Brock Purdy came out firing, completing 9-of-12 passes for 108 yards and three touchdowns in the final two quarters.
From there, Purdy finally became the quarterback we’ve known he could be. Over the last three games of the regular season versus Kansas State, Texas, and West Virginia, Brock Purdy combined for 61-of-79 (77%) passing, seven touchdowns, no interceptions, and 265 yards per game, as Iowa State outscored its opponent 110-26 over that stretch.
In the Big 12 Championship game, Brock was sort of a combination of early-season struggles and the late-season dominance. He was fairly efficient, finishing 27-of-40 (67.5%) and another thirty-eight yards on the ground, but his three interceptions, especially the last one on the last drive of the game, hurt.
The victory over Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl proved to be redemption time for Brock Purdy, even with the offensive gameplan largely revolving around a punishing run game. Purdy picked up Fiesta Bowl MVP honors on 20-of-29 passing and a touchdown with another 39 yards on the ground.
Outlook for 2021
So where do we go from here? Iowa State initially had a QB committed for the Class of 2021, but never pursued another one after Charles Wright flipped to Texas, so we’ll see the exact same quarterback room this fall as we did in 2020. That’s certainly a good thing, as the two freshman, Dekkers and Aidan Bouman will have another season to learn under Brock Purdy.
For 2021, the entire question around the quarterback room revolves around the consistency of Brock Purdy. If we see another up and down season like we did in 2020, Iowa State might be hanging around the 8-4 mark. However, if we see the Brock Purdy we saw in the final 5 1⁄2 games for an entire season, Iowa State has a legitimate shot at 10-2 or better in the regular season, especially if Breece Hall continues to perform like the best running back in college football through what will likely be his final season in Ames.
As for the freshman, we’ll still have to be on the lookout for them in garbage time. Hunter Dekkers appears to have put himself firmly into the backup spot, but Aidan Bouman could see a few snaps since we never saw him in 2020. However, Dekkers is the guy to watch when he does get in the game. He’ll likely be the quarterback of the future after Brock leaves, so we’ll look to see if he can build on the few exciting glimpses we’ve seen of him.