Jan 2, 2021; Glendale, AZ, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15) scores a touchdown against the Oregon Ducks in the first half of the Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Brock Purdy started with what non-believers in Iowa State’s football program would consider a platitude.
Then Iowa State’s record-setting senior quarterback boldly but calmly cut to the chase.
“I think, obviously we always want to be, like, the best version of ourselves,” Purdy, the 2021 Fiesta Bowl MVP, said last week during a conference call with the media. “I know you guys hear (head) coach (Matt Campbell) say that and you’ve probably heard me say that but honestly, if we could do that with the leadership that we have and the experience that we have with our team, I feel like the goal with that should be, you know, to win every game.”
Win. Every. Game.
The preseason No. 4 Cyclones, per ESPN’s FTP rankings, are finally ready to publicly link attitude and effort with anticipated and actually spoken lofty results — and for good reason.
Purdy, a first-team All-Big 12 selection, owns or shares 25 program records. ISU is coming off its second-ever nine-win season and first-ever New Year’s Six Bowl berth and triumph. All-American Breece Hall, who rushed for an FBS-best 1,572 yards returns at tailback, as does All-American tight end Charlie Kolar, who statistically and literally ranks as the best to play his position for the Cyclones.
I could go on … so I will.
ISU’s offensive line, led by Colin Newell, is as deep, experienced and skilled as its ever been. The Cyclones once again boast a true A-plus WR-1 on their roster with Xavier Hutchinson and will enjoy the return of a fully healthy sideline-to-sideline threat in Tarique Milton.
Bottom line: Loaded, in the case of the 2021 ISU team, is anything but a loaded term. It’s the truth. Put all the formidable pieces together — particularly on offense, but across all three phases, really — and the once unfathomable goal of reaching the four-team College Football Playoff becomes a realistic aim, but one that’s still fraught with peril as the Cyclones tread on the cusp of elite status.
It’s time. They’re ready. Let it rip — but equipped with the knowledge that results, as Campbell and his players often say, “take care of themselves.”
“We are outcome aware, but I think our purpose and our process, and the ability to continue to grow in our process and become better at our process, I think that’s the part that’s exciting,” Campbell told us last month.
Win. Every. Day.
Three “process” references in one Campbell sentence reiterates how when talent and resolve meet experience and expectations, every goal becomes attainable.
**The Cyclones’ offensive line allowed a measly 1.17 sacks of Purdy a game last season, which was tied for 10th-best nationally.
**Hall’s 21 rushing touchdowns a year ago ranked second to Najee Harris of national champion Alabama.
**Purdy is 19-6 all-time as a starter in Big 12 regular-season games — and 12-1 in conference games played at Jack Trice Stadium.
“We’ve all sat down and talked about what it’s going to take right when we got back from winter break, after the Fiesta Bowl,” Purdy said. “We looked at the games that we lost and asked ourselves why that happened. And then we even looked at the games that we won that were pretty close and asked ourselves how can we separate the score even more. So i feel like we have a lot of mature people in the building … everyone has the right state of mind going forward for this year. So I don’t think it’s any extra pressure or anything like that from what we did last year. We have our own standard. We don’t listen to the noise and everything going on outside of our walls. I feel like if we just continue to stick together, listen and grow from one another with the coaches and players inside the building, we’ll be able to reach any goal that we set for ourselves.”
Therein lies the key: They choose. No one else decides. And it’s not like they don’t have plenty of fine-tuning to undertake in order to rise to those high internal expectations.
**The Cyclones were tied for 53rd in red-zone offense last season, converting points inside the opponent’s 20-yard-line just 84.62% of the time. They ranked 49th in red zone touchdown conversions (65.38%).
**ISU was just plus-three in turnover margin a year ago, which was tied for 46th nationally.
**The Cyclones ranked 14th in passing plays that spanned 10-plus yards but dipped to tied for 37th in truly explosive passing plays of 30 or more yards. Fully adding Milton back to the mix will help balance that equation.
“This year I’m planning on just being as dominant as I can (be),” Milton said. “Really just in all phases. However I can help.”
Spoken like a true Cyclone. It’s a mantra that some would consider a platitude: “Whatever it takes.” But Milton, like all his teammates, means it and lives it. It’s why no goal is out of reach as long as trust and discipline serve as twin guiding lights.
So … Win. Every. Game?
Yeah, why not?
Will it happen? Objectively, almost everything has to go right — but that’s true for any team.
Can it happen? Absolutely, for all the reasons stated above (and below).
“I think (it’s about) everybody just trying to master their craft,” Purdy said. “The guys up front, the running backs, tight ends, receivers and the quarterbacks. I feel like if our chemistry is just 100% on point, you know, from the beginning of a game to the end of the game, I feel like we can really do anything that we want.”