Big 12 Football: Unknown Brock Purdy Can Derail West Virginia’s Championship Dreams

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When West Virginia (ranked No. 6 and 5-0) plays at Iowa State Saturday, the Mountaineers’ potent offense will be led by two-year starter and senior quarterback Will Grier, a Heisman Trophy candidate.

The Cyclones’ quarterback will be Brock Purdy.

Who?

Exactly.

Purdy, a freshman who was a three-star recruit from Gilbert, Ariz., is another in a long succession line of quarterbacks for the Cyclones. Austen Arnaud in 2008 is the last Iowa State quarterback to start every game. Since then, the shelf life has been short. According to Brent Blum of CycloneFanatic.com, starting in 2010 Iowa State has changed its starter on average every 5.8 games.

A year ago, another “who’s he?” quarterback emerged from the depth chart and led Iowa State to an upset victory at Oklahoma and then later in the season an upset of TCU, another top five team. Senior Kyle Kempt, though, was sidelined by an injury earlier this season and replaced by sophomore Zeb Noland.

He made his fourth start Saturday at No. 25 South Carolina, but Purdy took over on the second series. Purdy, the first freshman to play QB for Iowa State since 1995, finished with 402 yards of total offense (318 passing yards, 84 rushing yards) with four passing TDs and one rushing TD as the Cyclones won, 48-42.

Kempt, who suffered a knee injury in Game One at Iowa, could return as the Cyclones’ starter if he regains his health. However, it’s unlikely that Kempt will be ready for the Mountaineers. “We’re kind of waiting to see where Kyle is at,” Cyclones coach Matt Campbell said Monday. “If Kyle wouldn’t be ready to go, you would see Brock start. If he would, then we’d have to make the best decision going forward. It’s a little bit unsettled right now, a lot of it due to Kyle’s health.”

One thing appears certain – there’s no jealousy in the Iowa State quarterback room. Despite playing well as a starter, Noland wasn’t angry at the quick hook in Stillwater.

Your Veteran Scribe asked Campbell on the Big 12 coaches’ teleconference about Noland’s positive social media post and how Kempt has maintained a leadership role despite playing.

“It’s rare,” Campbell said of Kempt. “Here’s a kid that’s helping Zeb first and helping Brock. It’s almost like he’s their personal quarterback coach. Here’s a kid that would have every interest not to help them with the fear of not getting the opportunity to play again. That’s what has allowed us to really grow as a football program is this egoless approach to things.

“It doesn’t happen without Kyle Kempt because how he’s acted and carried himself, we’re nowhere near where we at least have the ability to go right now as a football team.”

If Purdy can out-duel Grier – a transfer from Florida, who is 23 years old, married and the father of a toddler-aged daughter – the Cyclones will have their fifth victory over a ranked team in their last 15 games.

It’s hard out here for a coach

Following the game-winning field goal that gave Texas a 48-45 victory over Oklahoma Saturday in the Red River Rivalry, Sooners fans were livid about their defense allowing the Longhorns the most points they had ever scored in the rivalry.

Lincoln Riley, OU’s second-year head coach, apparently agreed. And now Oklahoma fans won’t have Mike Stoops to kick around. The news broke Sunday night that Stoops, the younger brother of former coach Bob Stoops, had been dismissed as the team’s defensive coordinator. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by a long-time Riley mentor, OU defensive line coach Ruffin McNeil.

Mike Stoops was in charge of Oklahoma’s defense when it shut down Florida State and Heisman Trophy quarterback Chris Weinke to win the Sooners’ last national championship in 2000. After a so-so eight years as Arizona’s coach, he was dismissed and returned to Norman. By that time, the Big 12 had evolved into a no-huddle, spread offense shootout conference and Stoops never seemed to cope. His defensive game plans either committed to stop the run to be torched by the pass or vice versa.

Stoops’ dismissal was officially announced Monday. The next day, Kansas coach David Beaty made the shocking announcement that offensive coordinator Doug Meacham, who had been hired after successfully running TCU’s offense, had been fired.

For the second time in his four seasons, Beaty has taken over the role of offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. Beaty has contributed to the idea that the struggling football program lacks a purpose by making changes to his staff and his lineup.

Midway through his fourth season, Kansas has used 11 different quarterbacks including three this season. Junior Carter Stanley, who has the starting job (for now) has been tutored by four different quarterback coaches and three different coordinators.

Separating the person from the coach

Mike Stoops is well-liked by his fellow coaches and his former players. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, whose brother Cale is Oklahoma’s running backs coach, talked to the Tulsa World about the emotions of seeing a colleague dismissed in mid-season.

“Mike’s a friend, you know, from a distance,” Gundy said. “It’s a tough business. It is what is. I got no idea what goes on down there. But I respect him.

“It’s a tough time for people. It’s hard on him. I know that it will hit him deep because I know that he’s a competitor. This is a tough business.

“But I don’t know what goes on down there. Cale (Gundy, Mike’s younger brother on the OU staff) and I don’t take about personnel, we don’t talk about coaches. Even if a month from now if I asked him, he’d say, ‘I don’t know anything about that.’ He’s not telling the truth, but he’s not gonna talk to me about it.

“Hate to see it for any coach, but it’s part of the business.”

Stoops did not enter a witness protection program. He appeared on sports talk radio in Oklahoma City and was interviewed by Jason Kersey for The Athletic. There’s also this great perspective story by Zach Barnett of FootballScoop.com that illustrates a full-circle that the Stoops’ firing completed.

And here’s a farewell Tweet from Stoops:

No lying down on the field

Leave it to the NCAA to ruin our fun and outlaw innovative trick plays.

You might remember TCU trying a trick play against Ohio State. The Buckeyes were kicking off and the Frogs’ Jalen Reagor laid on his back in the right side of the endzone. He jumped up once teammate KaVontae Turpin fielded the kick.

Ohio State’s coverage team converted on Turpin, who then threw the ball across the field to Reagor. The big play was wiped out because instead of a lateral, Turpin threw a forward pass.

Following Texas’ go-ahead field goal with nine seconds remaining, Oklahoma was desperate for a big play. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, the Sooners’ speedy wide receiver, laid down in the end zone before the Longhorns’ kickoff.

The officials, however, forced Brown to leave the field before the kickoff. After the TCU-Ohio State game, NCAA secretary-rules editor Steve Shaw distributed an interpretation to all game officials that outlaws players trying to “hide” by going prone.

Quick slants

  • Mac Engel, columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, reports that TCU’s East Side stadium expansion to add luxury suites includes artist renderings that list the school having won national championships in 1935, 1938 and … 2018. According to TCU officials, the school has sold all but one of the 20 luxury suites that are scheduled to open in the fall of 2019.
  • Oklahoma ranks next-to-last nationally among Power 5 teams in red zone defense. Opponents are scoring a touchdown 86 percent of the time against the Sooners when they get inside the 20. Only Wake Forest is worse.
  • When Oklahoma State (4-2, 1-2) and Kansas State (2-4, 0-3) play Saturday in Manhattan, it will be the first time since 2007 that neither team is ranked. Eight of the last 11 meetings have been decided by single digits.
  • Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy says he plans to redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders. “I’m not a big fan of playing freshmen quarterbacks,” he said. That’s an interesting comment in this context. Texas Tech’s Alan Bowman and Iowa State’s Brock Purdy, both freshmen, have combined for 715 passing yards, seven TD passes and 89 points against the Cowboys this season.
  • Following Oklahoma’s score on the opening drive to take a 7-0 lead, the Texas offense took the field … and was called for delay of game. That’s the third time this season the Longhorns’ offense has taken the field after a kickoff and been whistled for the five-yard delay penalty. That’s the third time that’s happened to UT this season. A rule change starts the 40-second clock to start quicker than in the past. “They changed the rule, so now the play clock starts before we even get off the sideline now is what it feels like,” Texas tight end Andrew Beck told the Austin American-Statesman.

Stupid stat of the week

Last season, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield had a passing efficiency rating of 200.4 through seven games on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy. When the Sooners play Game Seven at TCU on Oct. 20, quarterback Kyler Murray will take the field with a PER of 227.8, which is second in FBS. (Stupider stat: Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa leads the nation with a PRE of 258.4)