Aug 31, 2019; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell talks to quarterback Brock Purdy (15) during a game against the Northern Iowa Panthers at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones won 29-26 in three overtimes. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
Iowa State’s 2020 fall football camp is scheduled to begin on Aug. 7 and the football season seems to be going along as planned, at least for the most part in Big 12 country.
This is the start of the fall camp position previews series and we will be dropping a new installment (sometimes two) of the series each week leading up to the season opener against South Dakota on Sept. 7.
Each installment will be broken down into the biggest questions the position faces as the room prepares for the season, beginning with the quarterbacks.
What’s the next step for QB1?
For the second straight year, nobody has any questions about who Iowa State’s starter will be under center for the season-opener. Brock Purdy took steps forward during his sophomore season after a stellar freshman campaign, but how can he continue to keep improving in year three as the starter?
Getting back to full strength will obviously help as he battled ankle injuries basically the entire second half of last season. That fact should ease some of the questions people have about Purdy’s willingness to run, which was on display his freshman year, but was only seen in flashes in year two.
There is no doubt Purdy has room to keep improving his decision making, as well, especially when it comes to knowing when to just throw the ball away and live to play another down.
His production has been unlike anything seen from a quarterback at Iowa State, which has elevated expectations to heights never before seen. Simply meeting those expectations would make Purdy one of the most productive quarterbacks in all of college football, but exceeding them could push Iowa State into the Big 12 title conversation and him into the Heisman Trophy speculation.
Who will be Purdy’s backup?
Re-al Mitchell’s transfer to Temple leaves the program with only two other returning quarterbacks the roster in redshirt sophomore walk-on Blake Clark and redshirt freshman walk-on Devin Larsen. Clark was the program’s holder on field goals last season, but that’s the only playing time either of those two has received during their time in the program.
Could one of those two emerge as the emergency option behind Purdy? Sure, but the most likely scenario is that role will fall on the two true freshmen who joined the program.
Minnesota native Aiden Bouman, the son of former NFL quarterback Todd Bouman, arrived in Ames in January after a record-breaking career playing for his father at Buffalo High School. He is more of a pocket passer option that threw for more than 9,500 yards and 94 touchdowns during his prep career.
Hunter Dekkers arrives on campus after a stellar high school career that ended with the West Sioux product being considered the top prospect in all of Iowa, plus the state’s most productive passer in history with 10,628 yards and 126 touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 234-pound former Elite 11 finalist is more of a dual-threat option and was one of the top quarterback recruits in the country, according to 247Composite.
If I had to make a prediction on who will be Purdy’s backup, I would probably side with Dekkers due to the running ability he displayed at the high school level, but that will all be reliant on his ability to pick up the scheme after arriving on campus in the summer.
This will be one of the hottest battles to track during fall camp.
Due to Purdy’s success over the last two seasons, this is a position that will hopefully have little intrigue with an immediate answer. Purdy is the unquestioned leader of the offense — and entire team, really.
The backup job will be one of the most important questions for the entire program during fall camp and seems to be completely up in the air as of now. Hopefully, the Cyclones will be able to take advantage of their early-season slate and get those young guys opportunities to see the field for further evaluation in a game setting.
Just in case, of course.