Win is ISU’s primary takeaway from TCU
It wasn’t straightforward and there were a fair share of twists and turns, but Iowa State is in the win column in 2020. The Cyclone football team outlasted TCU 37-34 in a wild game that didn’t get going until the second quarter.
Iowa State survived multiple defensive lapses, one of, if not the, worst plays of Brock Purdy’s career, and a rejuvenated Max Duggan to pull out the victory in what was a mixed bag for the Cyclones.
THAT BROCK PURDY FUMBLE
Brock Purdy is generally a good decision-maker behind center, despite some of the ill-advised throws he’s made in his two years as the Cyclones’ full-time starter at quarterback. But Saturday in the third quarter, he made what can only be described as a boneheaded play that gifted TCU a free touchdown.
When Purdy was in the process of being sacked by a TCU defensive lineman, he tried to save the play by chucking the ball out of his hand. Instead of saving the play, it went backward — falling directly into the arms of a Horned Frogs player who couldn’t believe his luck.
The TCU player then jogged into the end zone and a 17-7 game turned into a one-score game in an instant.
Head coach Matt Campbell said he had a discussion with Purdy following the play.
“I just think that’s part of his growth process. I mean we had some long talks about that really even over the last two weeks. And I think one of the things that when you get to be a veteran football player, situational football, [is] understanding that sometimes at quarterback making the best play is making the right play.”
The Cyclones were able to come back and wrestle control of the game back, but Purdy’s odd start to the season has not been what some Iowa State fans expected. He finished the day [stats] from the field with one touchdown and no interceptions — but he’s still yet to get into a groove in 2020.
RUNNING GAME TAKES CONTROL
Iowa State’s offense was kickstarted by sophomore running back Breece Hall in the second quarter, turning a regular early-down carry into a 75-yard run to open up the scoring and outrunning every TCU player in the process.
Hall was strong throughout the game, picking up [yards] on [carries] and scoring three touchdowns, including the second one to seal the game for the Cyclones late in the fourth quarter.
He wasn’t the only Iowa State player to hit the end zone though, as senior running back Kene Nwangwu had a 49-yard touchdown in the second quarter to put the Cyclones up 17-7.
In a weird season and with a disjointed start from Purdy so far, the Cyclones’ running attack has stepped up. Hall is averaging 125 yards per game and the offensive line has been more consistent in the run game than in pass protection.
Campbell said he has continued to see growth in Hall’s game.
“Breece is super talented,” Campbell said. “And I think he took some of the areas where he needed to be better from the first week and got better. An area like the run game, an area like blocking people an area like running the ball. When you’re cautious early, I think it just takes time.”
There’s a long way to go in the season, but Hall is going to be very important in determining Iowa State’s success.
WEAKNESS IN SECONDARY
A gashed secondary was a common theme in Saturday’s game, with the Cyclones far too often getting beat deep for long passes. TCU recognized the back end of Iowa State’s defense as a weakness from the start, and despite picking up six sacks on the day the defensive line could not prevent the secondary from conceding two wide-open deep touchdowns that kept the Horned Frogs in the game.
With JaQuan Bailey firing on all cylinders and a different makeup to the defensive line in 2020 as Latrell Bankston and Will McDonald take bigger roles, the Cyclones are getting more pressure on the quarterback. But the Cyclones also have to show more growth in the secondary, otherwise, Spencer Rattler and the Oklahoma Sooners might make them pay more than TCU was able to.