Purdy, Cyclones have off day in loss to Cowboys

Iowa State wide receiver Landen Akers makes the reception for an Iowa State first down against Oklahoma State on Oct. 26, 2019. The Cyclones fell to the Cowboys 34-27.

Noah Rohlfing

A school-record tying 62 pass attempts. Thirty-nine completions. Three interceptions in the fourth quarter.

Nothing about Brock Purdy’s stat line from Saturday’s 34-27 Homecoming loss to Oklahoma State was expected or normal.

Purdy’s game wasn’t all bad, but all it takes is one mistake for an opponent to pounce — and boy, did the Cowboys take advantage. Big plays on both ends of the ball stole the show for Oklahoma State early on and late in the game.

“Gosh, I never go into any football game thinking I want to throw 60 passes,” said coach Matt Campbell. “I think unfortunately it was the situation and how it played out.”

The Cyclones ran the ball 25 times Saturday for 86 yards. Breece Hall had two touchdowns and 76 of those yards on 18 carries, against at team which had given up over 150 yards rushing six times this season. 

The imbalance offensively put Iowa State on the back foot and once the Cowboys figured out a pass was likely coming, they tweaked their defense to put pressure on Purdy. With the Cyclones’ offense essentially figured out, it made things a lot more difficult for their sophomore quarterback. 

Campbell said the Cowboys’ defensive scheme forced Iowa State to change its game-plan and put more emphasis on passing the ball. 

“They did a good job being multiple defensively,” Campbell said. “Mixing up a lot of different things and gave a lot of different looks. I think from our end, we kinda had a pretty good beat that’s what was gonna happen.

“Getting the consistency in that passing game never really took hold.”

The result was a quarterback who was forcing throws and seemed to be on the verge of throwing an interception from the first quarter onward. The Cowboys had 11 pass breakups, with Kolby Harvell-Peel setting an Oklahoma State school record with six of his own.

When Purdy did turn the ball over, his picks in the fourth quarter were all similar: Oklahoma State changed looks from pre-snap to post-snap and forced Purdy into making what he called “bad decisions.”

The first pick, a pick-six by linebacker Malcom Rodriguez, was intended for La’Michael Pettway — but it was telegraphed and Rodriguez simply jumped in front to give the Cowboys the lead. 

The other two picks came on routes to the middle of the field, something Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said was due to defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ gameplan.

“Jim [Knowles] had a good scheme for them when they throw the ball,” Gundy said. “It worked for us late, especially on the inside crossing routes. Our players bought into the scheme.”

Purdy said the interceptions were on him, and added that he didn’t play up to his own standards. But he also said the offense works best when it’s balanced. 

Who knows if balance would have helped the Cyclones counter Oklahoma State’s big-play first half — with three touchdowns of over 50 yards — but by becoming predictable, the Cyclones felt they didn’t put the team in the best possible position to succeed. 

However, Purdy said the team was ready to fight back.

“When it comes down to executing in certain situations, it hurts when you don’t execute in the right way,” Purdy said. “We just talked in the locker room, and we’re not gonna let this affect the rest of our season.”

Purdy and the Cyclones were living dangerously on offense for much of Saturday’s action. When the Cyclones slipped up, out went a 10-game winning streak in the month of October — and in came questions about the offense heading into an important bye week for the 5-3 ‘Clones. 

Up next for the Cyclones is a trip to Norman, Oklahoma, to take on the Sooners, who are fresh off a loss to Kansas State. What happens there could determine the Cyclones’ Big 12 Championship fate.