Takeaways: Iowa State plays as a unit to trounce Louisiana-Monroe

Sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy after rushing into the end zone for a touchdown against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday. Iowa State won 72-20.

Matt Belinson

Heading into the final game of their non-conference schedule against Louisiana-Monroe, Iowa State harped on fixing the details and playing as a complete team on the field.

It’s safe to say some of those details were fixed Saturday, as Iowa State trounced the Warhawks 72-20.

Head coach Matt Campbell said that after the beatdown of the Warhawks he felt his team played like a “football team” for the first time all year. Campbell said he saw all three levels play big factors in the Cyclones’ final game before Big 12 play gets under way.  

“Purdy good” day for the offense

In case you didn’t hear, quarterback Brock Purdy played pretty well against the Warhawks.

The sophomore quarterback put up record numbers and took control of the entire game after a disaster first two drives for the Cyclones on offense.

On Iowa State’s first drive of the game, Purdy had a miscommunication with Tarique Milton and threw an interception seven seconds into Iowa State’s drive.

In the ensuing drive, Purdy fumbled the handoff to running back Kene Nwangwu and once again Iowa State shot itself in the foot.

The mistakes stopped from then on for Purdy.

Purdy led the offense to score on eight straight drives after his turnovers, with the quarterback throwing for three touchdowns while also using his legs to rush for three. 

Purdy’s six total touchdowns tied for a school record with Seneca Wallace, and the 510 total yards of offense he created broke school records. As a whole, Iowa State generated 714 yards of total offense, setting another school record on the day.

Purdy’s teammates couldn’t help but give rave reviews of his performance, but for most of them, the record-setting day was something they would expect from a player like Purdy.

“Phenomenal, what did he have — three rushing touchdowns and three passing?” said back-up quarterback Re-Al Mitchell. “Those are crazy stats; he did really good.”

The main benefactor to Purdy’s record-breaking day was fellow sophomore Milton, who caught three passes for 142 yards receiving, with a majority of his yards coming on his second 73-yard touchdown catch of the season.

Milton broke the 100-yard receiving mark in back-to-back weeks for the Cyclones, allowing the redshirt sophomore to offer high praise to his quarterback and how the offense played as a unit.

“It showed how powerful we can be and how dominant we can be as an offense,” Milton said. “I always tell [Purdy], ‘he is different’ and being the young guy making the plays he makes, you don’t see that often.”

Purdy himself didn’t know the offense was breaking records until he was taken out of the game in the fourth quarter. Purdy did not want to take credit for the offensive explosion that took place; rather, he credited his receivers’ abilities.

“They are the ones making plays, I just have to get the ball to them,” Purdy said. “Honesty when I finished, our athletic trainer came up to me and told me because I didn’t know, but it is definitely an honor and pretty cool.”

Running defense stumbles

While all the attention and praise will head to the offensive side of the ball for the Cyclones, the run defense had a day to forget.

Coming into the matchup against the Warhawks, Iowa States’ run-defense was ranked No. 10 in the nation, holding opponents to an average of 73 yards per game.

Iowa State gave up a season-high 228 yards on the ground. The Cyclones allowed Northern Iowa to rush for 34 yards and had the Hawkeyes rush for 114 on the ground in the Cy-Hawk game. The most rushing yards didn’t come from a tailback for the Warhawks, however, it came from senior quarterback Caleb Evans.

Evans rushed for 93 yards for the Warhawks, with his biggest rushes coming on designed draws and long-yardage scrambles that caught Iowa State off guard multiple times on third down.

Josh Johnson punched in the lone rushing touchdown of the day for Louisiana-Monroe, the second rushing touchdown the Cyclones have allowed all season.

Creating and capitalizing on turnovers

The defense may not have had its best day when it comes to stopping the run, but in terms of creating turnovers, Iowa State’s defense capitalized.

The Cyclones created three turnovers, including a fourth-quarter pick-six by Jake Hummel. The Cyclone defense had another interception by Lawrence White and a fumble recovery.

“I replayed my play from Iowa all night; I told myself, ‘when an opportunity comes I gotta make it for the team,’ cause we need that,” White said.

Iowa State lost the turnover battle in both of its first two games, losing two fumbles against Iowa and being unable to create a turnover against Northern Iowa in week one.

The Cyclones were on the winning side this time around and made sure the Warhawks would come out of this game thinking about missed opportunities after Iowa State turned it over early on offense.

The Cyclone defense rose to the challenge after Purdy turned the ball over early in the first quarter, putting the Warhawks in a great opportunity to score.

Iowa State’s defense wouldn’t allow it.

The Warhawks would miss a 30-yard field goal after picking-off Purdy at the Cyclones’ 14-yard line and would then turn the ball over on a loss of downs after a fourth down stop by Iowa State’s defense.

Campbell did not minimize the importance of the defense not allowing Monroe to capitalize on turnovers early in the game.

“It was huge, those were critical moments,” Campbell said. “We made some plays when we needed to and I thought that was huge for our football team.”