Notebook: Purdy reflects on career debut, talks Jaylin Noel’s play

Brock Purdy warms up against No. 10 Iowa on Sept. 11, 2021.

Sam Stuve

Throughout his career, Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy has been one the most successful players in program history.

He has compiled a 27-13 record and led the program to its first-ever Big 12 Championship game and first-ever New Year’s Six bowl game, which the Cyclones won. 

But to start his career in 2018, Purdy was a backup who was thrust into a starting role against a program that now travels to Ames for Saturday’s matchup.

Heading into his fourth matchup against Oklahoma State, who comes into the game as the eighth-ranked team in the country, Purdy is still looking for his second win against the Cowboys and said that he still goes back to watch film from the Oklahoma State game in 2018.

Purdy reflects on career debut win

The start of the 2021 season was pretty rocky, especially for the Cyclone offense. Purdy and the offense scored just 26 points in the first two games, had 337 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions. This included the Iowa game completing 13 of 27 passes for 138 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions.

Following this game, Purdy said he went back to watch his film from his collegiate debut in the 2018 Oklahoma State game.

“I just feel like after that [Iowa loss Sept. 11] game, I don’t know, I just wasn’t myself in terms of football players, quarterbacking everything, and so I just went back and watched some games for my career and reminded myself like ‘Hey, this is who I am and what I can do, you know, for this team,'” Purdy said Tuesday. 

When he looks back at that game film, the thing he notices in himself is the fire and passion he played with.

“When I watch it, I’m like, ‘man, I had so much fire and passion,’ you know, for the game and sometimes I can get lost,” Purdy said. “So I feel like going back and watching that game, it does remind me, you know, ‘hey, this is who I am as a player’ and it maybe gives me confidence going forward.”

Going back and watching film of this game appears to have worked as each of the last four games has been a lot better statistically for him.

Over his last three games, Purdy has thrown for 716 yards and six touchdowns.

Campbell, Hummel talk Spencer Sanders

In his first two starts against Iowa State, Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders is 2-0 with a 24-21 win in 2020, and a 34-27 win in 2019.

Sanders has combined for four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) and four interceptions in his two games against the Cyclones.

So far this season, Sanders is fifth among Big 12 quarterbacks in total offense per game at 235 (Purdy is second). 

“He has got a great understanding of the system, he’s an elite athlete, he can make you pay bad with his feet and maybe he’s got the quickest release of any college quarterback in the country right now, the ability for him to get the ball out of his hands and know where that ball is going is exceptional,” Matt Campbell, Iowa State head coach, said of Sanders. 

Campbell said that playing against Sanders is an “unbelievable challenge.”

“[He] certainly presents an unbelievable challenge in terms of what we’re doing, and then you put the nail on the head in terms of the guys around him, he’s got really good players around him,” Campbell said. “I think that’s kind of what Oklahoma State’s always done a great job of putting great playmakers around their quarterback and allowing those quarterbacks to be efficient with the ball.”

Sanders is a dual-threat quarterback. The Cyclones have had multiple experiences playing against not only him but other dual-threat quarterbacks as well this season.

This includes Gerry Bohanon of Baylor, who completed 14 of 19 passes for 159 yards, two touchdowns and zero interception, as well scoring a rushing touchdown in a 31-29 win over Iowa State.

So far this season, Sanders has thrown for 959 yards, rushed for 216, scored on six passes through the air and three on the ground. He’s thrown five interceptions and completed 58.5 percent of his passes.

“He’s very poised in the backfield, kind of patient where he wants to throw a pass or he can take it out of the backfield for any moment,” Jake Hummel, Iowa State linebacker, said. “So the key to that is just kind of being disciplined. You know, if we have a linebacker that’s supposed to be on the quarterback, make sure his eyes are on the quarterback and that his eyes aren’t somewhere else.”

Jaylin Noel coming off a solid week

In the Cyclones’ win over Kansas State, it wasn’t well-established pass-catchers such as Xavier Hutchinson, Charlie Kolar or Chase Allen who led the team in receiving yards, it was freshman Jaylin Noel.

The Kansas City, Missouri, native, had just five catches for 27 yards coming into the game against the Wildcats.

Against Kansas State, Noel doubled his season total in receptions and finished with 48 receiving yards in the game.

Campbell said the offseason work that he put in instilled confidence in himself and that has continued to grow.

“I think he’s a guy that has continued to elevate his play in practice, which has allowed him to really get an opportunity,” Campbell said. “When the opportunity came his way to kind of be the guy on Saturday night, he was able to really do a great job of taking advantage of that opportunity.”

The thing that makes Noel stand out to Purdy is his maturity.

“Like I’ve always said Jaylin’s really mature for his age, he’s a true freshman and everything, the way he prepares and everything, goes about himself you know, in the locker room with the guys and the relationships that he has, like he’s just a mature individual,” Purdy said.

Noel has played in all six games so far but had mostly been a punt returner and a non-top three target for Purdy. 

Things changed against Kansas State. Noel tied for the most receptions on the team in that game, along with Hall, and had a kick return as well.

According to Purdy, coming into the season, they thought Noel would get the ball a lot earlier, which wasn’t the case, but he responded well to that. 

“Coming into the season, we thought he was gonna play early and he did but you know, get a lot more touches and stuff, so even though he did it like he still went about in the right way, with practice and everything just continued to chip away,” Purdy said. “And then finally, last Saturday he was able to get the ball in his hands a little bit more and make plays for our offense.”