Notebook: Spreading the ball around, Kolar’s impact, K State’s defense

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy walks the sideline during Iowa State’s 59-7 victory over Kansas on Oct. 2.

Sam Stuve

Iowa State (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) is hitting the road for the third time this season on Saturday, facing the Kansas State Wildcats (3-2, 0-2 Big 12) in a game known as “Farmegeddon.”

The Cyclones’ last matchup came nearly two weeks ago at home and was a dominant win versus the Kansas Jayhawks.

The 52-point drubbing of the Jayhawks was impressive all around, but the offense stole the show, scoring 59 points. Spreading the ball around and having tight end Charlie Kolar at “100 percent” was instrumental in the win and something that offensive coordinator Tom Manning talked about building off of, in addition to facing a Kansas State defense that likes to mix it up.

Brock Purdy spreading around the rock

In the 52-point win over Kansas, Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy threw all four of his touchdowns in the first quarter.

Each of these touchdowns were caught by a different player, which Manning attributed to him going through his progressions the right way.

The example he gave was the fourth touchdown of the game where Purdy found back-up running back Jirehl Brock on a six-yard pass. 

“I think he did a great job; he threw a touchdown to Jirehl Brock, which was, you know, the last read in the progression,” Manning said Wednesday. “I think some of those things happen naturally, and I think the more that they happen, it’s getting more people involved, which is always a good thing.”

Getting more players involved in the passing game can obviously pay dividends for any offense, including Iowa State’s. This was evident on Oct. 2 as having four different players on the receiving end of touchdowns helped Iowa State not only earn its largest win of the season, but the largest win ever against Kansas.

Manning attributed that output to being a testament to Purdy’s ability to understand the concepts and the offensive line’s ability to protect the quarterback as well.

“I also think it means that the quarterback is doing a really good job if he is able to get to the second, third, fourth, fifth read in a concept,” Manning said. “I think that’s certainly a good thing that you feel like, ‘Hey man, that concept made sense that we were able to get all the way back and not panic.'”

Those on the receiving end of those touchdowns were Brock, wide receivers Joe Scates and Xavier Hutchinson, as well as Kolar.

Manning talks Kolar’s play

Kolar missed the first game of the season with an injury and was kept out of the end zone in his season-opener against Iowa, receiving four passes for 34 yards.

Since then, Kolar has had at least 60 receiving yards and has found the end zone in the last two out of three games. Even when he was dinged up, Manning said Kolar was still playing well and is now moving a lot better.

“I think just for our offense, you know, obviously he’s a very good football player, but he has played, you know, a ton of football and having that experience, he can help with the in-game [stuff],” Manning said. 

Manning said that having Kolar’s experience and leadership is a major plus. 

“Crazy things happen. Adversity happens in a game. I think having guys that have experience and also intelligence, it does provide, I think, maybe a bit of confidence when things aren’t going really well, just because he, you know, he can rely on maybe some of his past experiences in terms of, ‘Hey, we’ve been here before, here’s what we need to do,’ and certainly Charlie’s a great leader for our football team,” Manning said.

Kolar is currently second on the team in receiving with 17 receptions for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Being a starter for the last couple of years, Kolar possesses a sense of familiarity with Purdy that goes without saying.

And oh yeah, being 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds and having athleticism helps as well. 

“Just from a physical standpoint, he’s a large target, and I think that is always something for a quarterback. I think it’s certainly inviting,” Manning said.

Kansas State’s defense

Over the last couple of years, Kansas State has, for the most part, played some good defense, which has helped them win the last 11 out of 13 matchups against Iowa State.

However, Manning said he’s seen some different looks from Kansas State on film. 

“I think in years past, they’ve played more of a four down front,” Manning said. “You know, I think they certainly have the ability to still do that. And, and they should have shown to do that at times, but they’ve played a little bit more of a three down front.” 

Manning said that Kansas State has shown the ability to mix it up defensively but can still revert back to a four man front.

Playing multiple defensive fronts could easily confuse an offense but could open up different things on different plays as well.

Manning said that different Big 12 teams playing multiple defensive looks is something that makes things more complex offensively.

“I think anytime a team has the ability to be multiple, it certainly makes things a little bit more complex in terms of your plan, being able to fit and adapt, and also the offensive line and the people blocking on the perimeter, having an understanding of what’s going on from a structural standpoint,” Manning said. “So yeah, I mean, it’s certainly something that you have to be aware of.”