ISU freshman QB poised to start
MORGANTOWN — It took more than one month, but it appears the Iowa State offense finally woke up last week in a win against Oklahoma State.
That leaves Purdy poised to make the first start of his collegiate career Saturday against the Mountaineers (7 p.m., FS1).
″(Purdy) didn’t go in and play like a freshman,” WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. “I don’t think I’ve seen a game-one freshman performance quite like that. Texas Tech had to put their freshman (Alan Bowman) in game one and had some good performances, but it wasn’t like in the first one, like that Purdy guy did. It’s different; he runs around a lot better than Kempt does. That’s just not what Kempt’s game is.”
Purdy’s statistics against Oklahoma State were impressive. The Arizona native completed 18 of 23 pass attempts for 318 yards and four touchdown passes while also throwing one interception. He also led Iowa State in rushing with 19 carries for 84 yards and another touchdown.
That performance brought in a bevy of accolades — Big 12 Newcomer of the Week, CBS Sports National Freshman of the Week, Davey O’Brien Great 8 performer and a Manning Award Star of the Week to name a few. His 402 total yards were the eighth-best single-game performance in Iowa State history.
“I thought their quarterback kept plays alive, that was the biggest thing,” WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said of Purdy. “He ran around the pocket a little bit. I thought the run game was working well. He can obviously run the ball; he was their leading rusher. Then, they made some big throws down the field. You watch their first couple of games, and then you turn this one on, it looks like a totally different offense.”
Purdy, however, is far from the only threat the Cyclones pose on the offensive side of the ball.
Running back David Montgomery was an All-America selection last season and a preseason All-Big 12 pick this season, but his status for Saturday’s game is uncertain. Montgomery suffered what was deemed an upper arm injury late in ISU’s game two weeks ago against TCU and did not play in the win last week at Oklahoma State. “The biggest thing for David is it’s been a day-to-day situation of trying to get him back to full strength,” Cyclones coach Matt Campbell said. “The thing we’re not naive about is we’re never going to put a young man that’s not 100 percent healthy back on the field, and we have a great training staff here. They kind of tell us ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ and David is a really good communicator. Those things really help us make the best decision.”
Last year in Morgantown, Montgomery carried the ball 26 times for 115 yards but did not score in a 20-16 WVU win. Two years ago in Ames, he carried 21 times for 141 yards an no touchdowns in a lopsided, 49-19 West Virginia win.
The Mountaineers have been good at keeping Montgomery out of the end zone, but he has had success moving the ball between the goal lines against Gibson’s defense each of the last two seasons. If he plays Saturday, slowing Montgomery down will be high on Gibson’s to-do list.
“Obviously, we have to tackle him,” Gibson said. “That’s the biggest thing. Two years ago, out there, we struggled tackling him. Last year, here, we did a pretty good job with it, but he’s really elusive. He’s a powerful kid. Very rarely do you ever see him go backwards when he gets hit, and he makes a lot of guys miss. (ProFootballFocus) does a thing on backs after the season, and last year, yards after contact and making people miss, he was the No. 1 running back in the country at doing that. He’s a really good player, and he doesn’t turn the ball over, either.”
The Cyclones have some pretty good receivers too. Hakeem Butler, listed at 6-foot-6, 219 pounds, has 18 receptions for 372 yards and four touchdowns. He will certainly have a height advantage against the WVU secondary, but Gibson has a trick up his sleeve to combat that.
“We’re going to put (junior cornerback Josh) Norwood on (junior cornerback) Keith’s (Washington)shoulders and let them cover them that way,” Gibson said with a laugh. “Texas Tech was big, so what we have to do is create confusion for this quarterback and not give him any easy throws to that big target. That’s our key every week and to try to create some pressure and make quick throws so we can keep him in front of us. If you get into the jump-ball situation with them, we’re going to lose that.”
Former South Charleston High standout Derrek Pitts, who made the switch from safety to cornerback this season, filled in for injured Toyous Avery at the bandit safety position in last week’s win against Kansas. He could see more time at the position even with Avery expected back this week.
WEST VIRGINIA (5-0, 3-0) at IOWA STATE (2-3, 1-2)
When: 7 p.m.
Saturday Where: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa
Radio: WWQB 102.3-FM