Notebook: Purdy’s play, Hutchinson’s confidence talking points for Cyclones

Brock Purdy celebrates with teammates after Iowa State scores a touchdown against No. 8 Oklahoma State on Oct. 23.

Sam Stuve

With three weeks to go in the regular season, Iowa State is one game out of second place in the Big 12 and is tied for fourth with Baylor. In other words, it’s the home stretch.

Iowa State is now at the most critical point of the season in the eyes of most, including Head Coach Matt Campbell.

To get back to the Big 12 Championship game, Iowa State needs to see continued good play from Purdy and more explosive offense from wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson, among other things.

Purdy’s consistent play

In Big 12 play, one thing has been consistent: Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy has taken care of the ball and has not jeopardized the team’s chance of winning.

Campbell has equated Purdy’s play to the importance of that of a point guard in basketball.

“I think anytime that you talk about the point guard in basketball, you talk about the quarterback in football, it’s almost an art of you know, when it’s all clicking of what it looks like,” Campbell said. “He’s on fire, you almost can feel that a little bit. Sometimes when I think those guys get in that kind of rhythm, that they have the ability, especially because they have the ball in their hand so much that they are, there’s just a great flow to what the game looks like and feels like.”

On fire, Purdy is, as he has completed 72.9 percent of his passes so far this season for 2,085 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. 

Over the last five games, Purdy has completed 75.5 percent of his passes, 1,195 passing yards, nine total touchdowns and zero turnovers.

But all those numbers are meaningless unless the team wins, Purdy says.

“To be honest, with me at the end of the day, if we win that’s what’s going to make me feel good about doing my job,” he said. “Stats and everything, I don’t really care about… .it’s all about winning and putting my team in the right area to win the game.”

And one of those receivers who’s been on the receiving end of the lion’s share of Purdy’s passes is Hutchinson.

Xavier Hutchinson’s confidence

Hutchinson is Iowa State’s leading receiver with 60 receptions for 686 yards and five touchdowns. 

And what is one of the things that makes him stand out in Campbell’s eyes? Confidence.

“I think the one thing that I would say about Xavier is boy, he’s a confident football player,” Campbell said. “He’s as confident as maybe what we have in our program, to be honest with you. And he’s earned that.”

And saying a player has a high level of confidence is not something that Campbell apparently will throw out all willy-nilly. 

“I think sometimes we look at football players and say, ‘Man, they just get so much confidence.’ And I would say, ‘do they really?’, I think in our sport, it’s hard, it’s challenging and it’s a mental grind as much as a physical grind,” Campbell said.

“I think X is one of those guys that’s worked for everything that he’s achieved, I think he feels really confident that even if something bad happens in a game, to him or in the situation, he can go back, he can get himself back in the moment, because he does have great confidence in what he does and how he’s prepared to do what he does. So the word for me with X is confidence.”

Hutchinson has shown that he can take over at the wide receiver position on multiple occasions this season. 

He’s logged three games with at least eight catches, and at least 95 yards, in addition to having two games (at UNLV and vs. then-eighth ranked Oklahoma State) with at least 10 catches for 125 yards and multiple scores.

“I feel like he’s playing his best football right now. So that gives me a lot of confidence,” Purdy said. “It keeps me calm, like, hey, I got guys, you know that they’re the best in the conference really. So all I gotta do is get the ball to them and trust in them.”

And on top of that, he threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tarique Milton in Iowa State’s win over Texas.

Learning from humbling losses

Iowa State is coming off a big 30-7 win against Texas but is now leaving it in the past.

One of Iowa State’s goals this season was to make it back to the Big 12 Championship. To do this, Iowa State needs to win out and get some help from other teams in the Big 12 to make it there in December.

Campbell said that one of the things the team has done well after losses to Baylor and West Virginia is learning from them. 

“I think what some of our humbling losses, and not maybe getting the result we’ve wanted, but yet you saw improvement, and you saw really great positives, the ability to understand those and then understand why we didn’t maybe get the result we wanted to, I think those have all helped us greatly along the way,” Campbell said.  

But what Iowa State likely needs now is no “humbling losses” if it wants to make it back to the Big 12 Championship.

When asked if he thought the Big 12 title game was still in reach, his answer was short and to the point. 

“Yeah, we do,” he said.

And to get there, Iowa State may need a “Brocktober” kind of success, not only from him but everyone on the team.

Iowa State likely needs to win the next three games to make it to the Big 12 Championship, and that stretch starts with a road trip to Lubbock, Texas, to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

With a 23 point win over Texas, Iowa State is coming into this final quarter of the season with some confidence.

“I think we’re playing really well as a team in terms of offense and defense complementing each other,” Purdy said. “We have some stuff we can clean up and keep chipping away at, but yeah, this is crucial for us moving forward. It’s no secret in terms of every single game is big for our future and everything of where we want to be at the end of the season.”