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Tom Herman says Iowa State’s Brock Purdy has the ‘it’ factor and the results say he’s right

The Cyclones freshman sensation entered the season as the third-string QB, and now he’s one of the top passers in the Big 12.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The name Brock Purdy is one few outside of Ames, Iowa were familiar with entering the 2018 campaign. That wasn’t expected to change for the foreseeable future; not this season, for certain. Purdy signed with the Cyclones just narrowly ranked within the top 850 prospects nationally — 35 other pro-style passers were ranked ahead of him. Had things gone according to the original plan, the freshman would simply sit and wait his turn while the Kyle Kempt show continued for one final season.

However, things, of course, haven’t gone according to plan.

An MCL injury sent Kempt to the sidelines in Iowa State’s season-opening loss to Iowa. In Kempts’ place, Zeb Noland initially appeared primed to man the position, passing for nearly 600 yards against Oklahoma and Akron, but things soured the following week against TCU, marking the beginning of the end for Noland, who has since transferred from Iowa State.

Kempt is once again enjoying health, but it appears that his time, too, has came and went.

It’s the Brock Purdy show these days, and there’s been little doubt of that reality since he debuted with upwards of 400 total yards of offense and five scores in a shootout win over Oklahoma State. Whatever doubt remained disappeared the following weekend, as Purdy played pitch-and-catch to the tune of 254 yards and three scores in a 30-14 upset win over No. 6 West Virginia.

Iowa State hasn’t lost since, largely due to Purdy’s rapid emergence as one of the nation’s premier passers, which garnered plenty of praise from Texas head coach Tom Herman on Monday.

“Purdy is — the guy is undefeated. He’s 5-0,” Herman said of what he’s most impressed with about Purdy. “He’s got a ton of moxie, nothing phases that kid. It doesn’t matter the opponent, the atmosphere, the stadium, he’s got that “it” factor, and he’s got really, really good legs.”

“He can make plays with his feet when things break down, and not just as a runner but he can extend plays and throw the ball down the field,” Herman added.

Herman’s praise isn’t simple coachspeak, either, as the stats will show.

In just five appearances, Purdy has amassed 1,315 yards and 13 touchdowns through the air, with only two interceptions. He’s completing passes at a 68.6 percent clip, which sits just outside of the top 10 efforts nationally, and if Purdy’s passer efficiency rating of 192 were considered — it’s unlisted in rankings because he hasn’t played at least 75 percent of games this season — it would trail only Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (207.7) and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray (212.0), which are likely to finish first and second in the Heisman race, respectively.

Furthermore, as Herman alluded to, Purdy is plenty capable with his feet.

Sacks excluded, his 57 carries have chewed up 311 yards and three touchdowns, and for comparison, his 5.5 yards per carry average is a bit better than Sam Ehlinger (4.9).

Unsurprisingly, Iowa State is enjoying the benefits of Purdy’s skill set and productivity level being placed behind center. After averaging just 17.5 points per contest en route to a 1-3 start, Iowa State’s scoring has nearly doubled to 34.6 per game, and as a result, the Cyclones are enjoying the program’s most successful stretch since 2002.

If Texas hopes to spoil that success on Saturday night, the defensive game plan will largely be centered around Purdy and the impact his presence has had on the offense. That’s likely not something many anticipated to prove true at this point in the 2018 season when Purdy put pen to paper as the nation’s No. 841 prospect just months ago, but it is true.

The No. 36 pro-style quarterback in the 2018 class is now one of the top gunslingers in the conference and his play has Iowa State up to No. 18 in the AP Poll entering a must-win Big 12 showdown on Saturday.