Football

Battle for ISU’s backup QB spot intensifies as star Brock Purdy’s senior season looms

Jan 2, 2021; Glendale, AZ, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15) against the Oregon Ducks during the Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports 

Twenty-five and climbing.

 That’s how many all-time Iowa State football records quarterback Brock Purdy already owns or shares entering his senior season.

 Expect that number to grow, of course, but Purdy — like everyone else in football and life — has not reached the impossible state of perfection. He’s working toward it, though.

“Looking at the full body of playing quarterback, I think it starts with him continuing to make good decisions and understanding what goes into that process,” ISU quarterbacks coach Joel Gordon said Friday afternoon in a conference call with the media. “I think he has made a tremendous amount of growth in that regard in his career and he has a much better understanding of what is going on with the whole big picture offensively, as opposed to his first couple years.”

 While Purdy’s a known quantity, the two quarterbacks sitting behind him on the depth chart remain intriguing prospects. Last season, redshirt freshman Hunter Dekkers served sparingly in the backup role as designed, playing in three games in order to retain the extra year of eligibility. He went 5-for-7 in the air with a touchdown and also rushed for a score. He’ll be pushed by fellow redshirt freshman Aidan Bouman, who did not see any on-field duty last season, but like Dekkers, impressed coaches with his raw talent and work ethic.

 “What I see in both of those guys is they’re both young, they’re both really eager to learn, they both really work hard,” Gordon said. “Working at football, in the classroom setting, learning more about our offense, learning more about defense. Obviously, they don’t have really much experience when it comes to playing in a game, so trying to expedite that process is big when it comes to what’s (been) going on behind the scenes before we even got to spring practice.”

 Both Dekkers and Bouman are highly skilled but untested in crunch time situations. That’s because Purdy has afforded Matt Campbell‘s Cyclones a rare luxury: A durable and explosive starting quarterback for nearly three full seasons, even though he did battle through being dinged up much of the 2019 season. His ability to guide ISU to rarified heights in terms of production, as well as wins and losses, offers both prime backup candidates the perfect working example on which to model their respective games when it comes to on-field savvy and recognizing what a defense is leaving open for exploitation.

 “On the field, those guys are working really hard every single day and it’s always going to be a competitive environment,” Gordon said. “I think that’s one thing about those two guys: if they were out there by themselves, they’re gonna compete with themself first and then obviously having them out there on the field at the same time, that goes a long way because now they’ve got a chance to watch the other one. What do his feet look like? What kind of decisions is he making? What’s that ball look like. So on and so forth, but I’m really please with where both of them are right now and they’ve got a long way to go, but I’m really encouraged about what they’re gonna bring to the table.”

 Eventually — or in spot duty as long as the record-setting Purdy stays healthy. As for him, he can grow as a leader and continue to sharpen his decision-making skills, but otherwise — as his first-team All-Big 12 honor last season proves — the sky’s the limit, and he’s already breathed some of that sweetly-scented fresh air.

 “He’s proven that he’s one of the best players in the country playing as he plays,” Gordon said. “Obviously, he knows and we know he’s not perfect, and there are areas he can improve in … but his blend of what he does on his feet and is able to do in the air, in my opinion, is an awesome blend to have.”

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