NOTEBOOK: Brock Purdy “could have played a lot better,” Will McDonald’s pass rush prowess and more

Oct 3, 2020; Ames, Iowa, USA; Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy (15) passes during their football game at Jack Trice Stadium. Oklahoma takes a 17-13 lead over ISU into halftime. Mandatory Credit: Brian Powers-USA TODAY Sports

AMES — There may come a day when Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy offers up a glowing postgame assessment of his individual play.

 But I doubt it.

 The Cyclones’ record-setting play-caller is simply too consumed with trying to get better — and systematically picking apart his flaws.

 Take Saturday’s 37-30 upset victory over No. 18 Oklahoma at Jack Trice Stadium.

 Purdy averaged 21.7 yards per completion, didn’t throw an interception and connected with five different receivers for gains of 22 yards or more.

 His reaction?

 “I thought I could have played a lot better,” said Purdy, who did lose a fumble that led to an Oklahoma touchdown in the second half. “There’s a lot of stuff I could fix as far as fundamentals and technique and everything, but I’m happy that offense and defense and special teams played together. I thought we did take a (good) step in that direction.”

 A huge step.

 The defense allowed the Sooners to average 9.9 yards per play in the first quarter, but that number fell to a paltry 4.2 yards per play in the second half.

 The offense converted on six of its 10 third-down chances. Oklahoma converted on just 4 of 13. 

 And, of course, special teams didn’t allow any big plays for the Sooners, but produced one of its own in Kene Nwangwu’s 85-yard kick return that Cyclones coach Matt Campbell aptly described as “the play of the game.” That set up the first of two ISU touchdowns that closed the game and sealed the first home win over Oklahoma in six decades.

 “Kene, that’s like my big brother,” said star Cyclones running back Breece Hall, who rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns.

 But Purdy came up big as well, especially on a deft read that found explosive receiver Xavier Hutchinson in one-man coverage with no help for a 65-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

 The Cyclones  — who trailed 17-6 early — took a 23-20 lead on that play.

 “Obviously you had to win on the corner and Xavier did,” Campbell said. “Obviously the throw was outstanding. Brock gets a run-pass read and made a great read on it and obviously made a great throw.”

 Purdy said once he identified that the Sooners would once again commit safeties to limit the run game, he made the call and “just let it go.”

 “I trusted Xavier to make the play and obviously he did,” Purdy said. “To see him obviously make the play after the catch was pretty sweet and I thought the momentum piece we got from there was pretty nice.”

 That’s as glowing as he gets.

 Purdy has his eyes on a much bigger prize — competing for a Big 12 championship — on his mind and resting on his laurels, even briefly, doesn’t jibe with his broader, team-wide goals.

 “We don’t train in the offseason and go through all these things just to beat one team,” Purdy said. “It’s for really the whole conference. So to sit here and say we’re happy with how we played, I don’t think we could say that. I think we did take a lot of positives away from the game, but there’s a lot of things we can fix.”


 Iowa State sacked Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler twice in the second half and one that stood out involved situational pass rusher/athlete Will McDonald. The Cyclones had just tied the score 30-30 and on 3rd and 11, McDonald teamed with Mike Rose to take down Rattler and set the stage for what proved to by ISU’s game-winning drive.

 “A lot of credit to (defensive coordinator Jon) Heacock,” Campbell said. “I think he was able to create some pressure a little bit in the second half and some great (scheme) changes that we were able to make at halftime. Mike really takes the block of the tailback on that play and allows Will to be singled up. I think Will’s one of those guys who keeps coming, keeps coming. He’s a relentless football player. Mike’s gotta get credit for it. Obviously Will with a huge play and I think at the end of it you’ve got to give a lot of credit to coach Heacock and the defensive staff.”

 McDonald now has 8.5 sacks in his past seven games. Rose notched 11 tackles to match a career-high. 


 ISU’s All-American tight end Charlie Kolar not only made a team-high four catches for 66 yards on Saturday. He drew multiple penalties for pass interference and holding, as well. Kolar missed the Cyclones’ season-opening loss to Louisiana because of a lower-body injury, but it’s becoming clearer each week is health is dramatically improving.

 “Charlie is a very talented football player,” Campbell said. “Charlie is one of those guys that can be at times a matchup challenge for people. I’m, (A), really proud of him because he’s worked really hard to get healthy. Number two, in the heat of the moment Charlie’s a guy that’s always been there for us. He was certainly that guy tonight and give credit to Brock for getting him the football in some situations for him to be successful. Charlie made some huge plays for this team.”


 Redshirt freshman linebacker Aric Horne recorded his first career sack on a well-designed blitz. … The Cyclones are 11-1 in October since 2017, a win total in the month unmatched by any other FBS team. … Senior tight end Chase Allen tied a single-game career-high with four catches and totaled a single-game career-high 48 yards receiving. … Kicker Connor Assalley drilled three field goals to push his streak of consecutive makes to 11, which is tied for second all-time at ISU. … Purdy became the first Cyclone quarterback in school history to record a win over each conference foe. … He’s now 13-5 as a starter in Big 12 games.