Football

NOTEBOOK: Don’t “blink” and “miss” what could be Breece Hall’s final game as a Cyclone

Nov 20, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back Breece Hall (28) warms up before the game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

AMES — There is precisely one thing that won’t surprise you about star Iowa State tailback Breece Hall’s career.

His record-setting quarterback — and roommate — Brock Purdy explains:

“Yeah,” he’s always tired,” the four-year starting quarterback for the Cyclones said when asked about what Hall is like after games. “He always gives everything for the guys on the team.”

  For the fans, too — and obviously for the program.

 Hall’s secret to success, ISU head coach Matt Campbell said, lies in his “consistency” — and Saturday against TCU at Jack Trice Stadium, it’s quite possible another sellout crowd will see him flash that combination of explosiveness and efficiency at home for the final time.

 Yes, Hall is just a junior.

 Yes, he could come back next season.

 It’s completely up to him, but remember what Campbell said after Saturday’s 28-21 loss at No. 12 Oklahoma with regard to his senior-laden team in general: “Blink and you’ll miss it.”

“We’d be naive not to believe Breece is one of the best running backs in college football,” Campbell said of Hall, who Tuesday was announced as one of the three finalists for the Doak Walker Award. “Those are all certainly great decisions that he’s put himself in a position to make. He has a great family and he has great support and we’re going to do everything in our power so he can make a great decision for him and his future. Whatever that is, he’ll make a great decision. No matter what that is, when it comes to Friday, you know you’re going to get his best.”

 Book it.

 If Hall scores at least one touchdown during the Cyclones’ (6-5, 4-4) 3:30 p.m. matchup with the Horned Frogs (5-6, 3-5), he’ll solely own the NCAA record for consecutive games with at least one rushing TD.

 So, yeah, we’ll “get his best,” all right, but not because of any record-breaking opportunities. Hall’s continually honing his craft. Never settling, always searching for greater success, both individually and collectively.

 “What you have seen from Breece since that West Virginia game his freshman year to really every game he’s played in, there’s a real sense of professionalism and consistency that he brings to how he attacks the sport,” Campbell said of Hall, who has 52 total touchdowns in his past 31 games. “That part has allowed our football team to use him in the most critical moments. When you talk scoring, and those are critical moments, Breece has always been ready for the moment and has done a great job of continuing to grow his craft and what he’s about. There’s a lot of consistency about Breece Hall in terms of winning moments. I’ve talked about Charlie (Kolar) and competitive excellence, and I think Breece is certainly a young man that has all of those tools.”

 All that wear and tear piles up. Hall quietly pushes through it. He’s a top-10 all-time rusher in Big 12 history and it’s all but certain after Friday’s game he’ll end up on the couch next to Purdy, tired as usual, but looking for ways to get better (also, as usual).

 “When we get home, we just go straight to the couch and talk for a little bit,” Purdy said. “Talk about the game, what went on, what we could have done better, what we did well. He’s not about himself or anything like that. It’s about team and everything. But yeah, when we get home, he’s really tired and his body’s beat up. He does a great job for us and gives everything that he’s got.”

STRANGE VIBE

 Campbell was asked if it would feel odd not to shake the hand of longtime TCU head coach Gary Patterson before and after Friday’s game. The answer, obviously, was “yes.” Patterson — who built the Horned Frogs into a consistent top-tier power before struggling in recent years — retired during the season.

“I have such a respect for who he is and what he’s about,” Campbell said. “I think Coach Patterson is one of those guys where you look at our profession and sustaining success, like, I said this a couple weeks ago, it’s really hard to do, and he was able to do it, and do it really, really well for a long period of time. I think even how you’re watching this TCU team play over last couple of weeks, you see his his fingerprint all over it. Elite athleticism, tough, physical (players), all those things — and then obviously, when you have a Hall of Fame-caliber coach and a guy like Coach (Jerry) Kill that’s taken over for him, you just see consistency. So yeah, we’ll miss seeing coach Patterson, for sure, because the respect factor that you have for what he stood for and how we built a program.”

 “X” MADE HIS MARK

 ISU senior receiver Xavier Hutchinson joined the ISU program as a JUCO transfer two seasons ago, but felt immediately a part of this departing class of four, five and even six-year Cyclones.

 So how would he describe this senior class?

“A Trailblazer, honestly,” said Hutchinson, the Big 12 leader in receptions with 75 this season. “I know that a lot of people look at our season, you know, I know a lot of us inside the team look at our season as almost, you know, well, we could have done better, obviously. But this (senior) group has set a standard here. And I think that’s a standard that’s going to be followed for years to come even after we’re gone, or this upcoming class is gone. This is going to be a team that people can be proud of. This senior group made that happen. They switched it from 3-9 (in the past) to now, you know, we went (9-3) last year and now we have still a possibility of turning out to be 8-5. Programs don’t switch like that automatically, but they did it here because they believed in it. So they’re just trailblazers here.”