Football

NOTEBOOK: Brock Purdy’s trust in Sean Shaw, Jarrod Hufford’s “great” first start and more

ISU receiver Sean Shaw catches a touchdown pass at Kansas State. Photo courtesy Cyclones.com

AMES —  Iowa State wide receiver Sean Shaw Jr.‘s first touchdown of the season capped the Cyclones’ first 10-plus minute drive that ended with seven points in 20 years.

 It also played a huge part overall in ISU’s 33-20 win Saturday at Kansas State — and after the play, Shaw sought out record-setting quarterback Brock Purdy to share an observation.

 “I told Brock after the play that was probably one of the best throws I’ve seen you throw in a while,” said Shaw, who missed the first two games of the season with an upper-body injury. “That was amazing.”

 So was the drive. So has been Shaw’s rehab-filled climb back through practice reps, then game snaps, to finally stand tall again as a prime target for Purdy in pivotal situations.

 The 6-6, 220-pound Jones, Okla., native has caught 38 passes in his Cyclones career. Seven have been touchdowns from Purdy. Outside of All-American tight end Charlie Kolar, only one other ISU pass catcher has caught as many as seven scoring throws from Purdy — and that’s WR1 Xavier Hutchinson.

 So Shaw’s reemergence makes Purdy’s job easier, just as it did Saturday when ISU’s play caller continued to excel in the fine art of efficiency — and on that historic drive that put the Cyclones up 27-7 at the time. 

“(The defender) wasn’t pressed up on Shaw,” said Purdy, who ranks first among Big 12 starting quarterbacks in completion percentage (73.9) this season. “Sean literally had to go up and get leverage on him and catch the ball in the corner of the end zone. So for me, I just knew, hey, he’s a big body. I trust in him. He’s done really well at practice the last couple weeks. At practice we’ve been connecting really well and when we got in that game, that situation, I knew before the snap, like, hey, this is where I’m going and I’m going to trust him on this play. And he did. He came through.”

 Shaw only has three catches so far this season, but as he returns to full health, expect to see more high-profile connections with the Cyclones’ winningest quarterback — including this Saturday when No. 8 Oklahoma State comes to Ames for a 2:30 p.m. kick.

 “I’m just kind of taking it as it comes,” Shaw said. “I would love whatever role they give me. I’ll just keep going and whatever they ask me to do, I’m gonna keep doing it.”

HUFFORD’S IMPRESSIVE STARTING DEBUT

 ISU head coach Matt Campbell reiterated Tuesday that he thought left tackle Jarrod Hufford performed well in his first career start in Manhattan.

 His overall game tape-based appraisal?

“Not perfect, but man, there (were) a lot of really great things that we saw from him,” Campbell said. “And I think really what we’re excited about with Jarrod is just the immediate growth we saw. … I think the best thing that he did was he was physical at the point of attack. So if he can continue to do those things and continue to improve, we’ll be really excited to see where it’s at.”

 Hufford replaced redshirt senior Sean Foster in the starting lineup, but the veteran’s value to the team stretches far beyond game snaps.

 “Sean’s down there helping Jarrdd and our offensive line as almost like an assistant coach during the game,” Campbell said after describing Foster’s sideline performance as ‘MVP’ caliber. “I think when you have that kind of buy-in value from your football team … I think that’s what’s really hard. It’s hard about our society. It’s certainly hard in football, where you don’t maybe give what you want, but you’re doing what’s in the best interest of the team. When you can have that buy-in from the top down, I think that gives you a real chance.”

CAMPBELL ON THE COWBOYS

 Oklahoma State is the only team to beat the Cyclones in October in the past four-plus seasons. ISU is 17-0 against everyone else in the league during that span, so the Cowboys always preset the Cyclones with problems because of who they are — and that’s a team that excels at complementary football.

 “Very talented at the skill positions,” Campbell said. “Very talented on the defensive side of the football and I think have really become one of the standards on the defensive side of the football in our conference. And I think for years has been the standard on offense, so really well-coached football team we have a lot of respect for.”

 QUOTABLE

 “I think nobody has transformed his body and has worked as hard as what Mike Rose has done to kind of put himself in this position to be able to be 255 pounds and be able to play in space. And you’re talking SAM linebacker, where you’ve get to defend at times three-fourths of the field, to being in the box and having to be a box backer, and have to play ISOs and have to play downhill in the zone game. So I think Mike is just one of those unique talents that, I think sometimes, you know, everybody talks about the (Big 12-best five) interceptions a year ago, and those are all great, but man, as the coach, you’re seeing a guy that has got the ability at times to shut down half the field because of his athleticism, but also come into the box to be a real physical presence. I think that’s what makes him really special.” — Campbell on All-American senior linebacker Mike Rose