Every offense has a concept, a play, or a formula that works for them a vast majority of the time. It could be running outside zone or throwing the ball deep down the field better than anyone. It could be those tight end pop passes near the goal-line that work almost every time.
Who’s the first player you think of when it comes to the pop pass?
Without question, the first one is Tim Tebow from Florida. He was a master of those pop passes to his tight ends. Growing up, he was one of the best college football players I remember watching and trying to replicate on a football field.
I’m not the only one that grew up admiring Tim Tebow, though. Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy aspires to be just like Tebow. With how Matt Campbell has designed his offense for the Cyclones, Brock Purdy has done a terrific job taking command of this offense and has made some impressive plays during his 23 career games. While there might be a gap between the overall success of the two college QBs, Brock Purdy is doing his best Tim Tebow impression at Iowa State.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Purdy has played well for the Cyclones, though. Coming out of Perry High School in Gilbert, Arizona, he was ranked as a three-star recruit. Listed as a pro-style quarterback, he had offers to schools such as Alabama, Texas A&M, and a handful of other schools. However, he built a good relationship with Matt Campbell and he liked the vision that was in sight for the Cyclones. The talented quarterback is preparing for his redshirt junior season, where he looks to take another step in his career. Let’s take a look at five plays from the Cyclones and see what Brock Purdy brings to the table for them and the 2021 NFL Draft.
Split Flow Inside Zone Read
When watching Iowa State, you’ll notice how a lot of their offense is built off of the inside zone. With this, they can establish a zone-read and RPOs where they attack the middle of the field, or use a bubble screen off of that. Whatever they decide, defenses will honor some of the mobility that Brock Purdy has. He might only have 557 rushing yards for his career, but teams still have to keep tabs on him.
Aligned in ’11’ personnel, the Cyclones come out in a trips right formation. With their strong side being to the field side (right side), they have somewhat of an advantage to the boundary (left side). That’s only if their blocks are sustained and executed properly during the exchange or potential fake in the backfield.
Watching the play in real-time above, you can see Brock Purdy executing this split flow inside zone read. Rather than reading the tilted defensive end on the outside shoulder of the left tackle, Purdy has to read the cornerback (#12 Jeff Gladney) on the outside. The H-back flows behind the offensive line and kicks out that cornerback. As most of the defense bites on the fake for the inside zone, Purdy keeps the ball and almost takes it to the end zone. He gets chased down, but this is one of those plays that makes defenses honor the mobility from the talented quarterback.
Inside Zone Read with Bubble Screen
Like I’ve mentioned, the inside zone rune leads to an endless amount of possibilities for the Cyclones. With the intelligence of Purdy, he normally makes pretty good decisions with the football. More often than not, he has to give the ball to the running back, but he can also keep it for himself. The third and final option is the ability to throw the football.
With a pre-shift motion to the backfield, the slot receiver runs a bubble screen. This gives Purdy that third option with the football. Rather than giving the ball to the running back or keeping it for himself, he sees the open field and puts trust in his receiver to make a play. That’s exactly what happens from the receiver.
Watching the play in real time, you can see the pass completed and then the receiver makes the defender miss in the open field. This leads to a big gain, but also, the right decision by Purdy. There was a defender at heel’s depth waiting for him had he kept the football, and the running back had nowhere to go on the right side of the line. During the 2019 season, Purdy had 44 completions on 48 pass attempts for screen passes. This led to 360 yards and a touchdown, according to Sports Info Solutions (SIS).
Throwing the Wheel off of Pre-Snap Motion
If you haven’t noticed, there’s a lot of pre-snap motions in the Cyclones’ offense. In fact, it’s pretty common in a lot of schemes across football. Offenses want teams to honor the speed and play-makers they have. For the Cyclones, it’s no different. They had some play-makers at wide receiver in 2019 with Deshaunte Jones and Tarique Milton. Both players spent time moving around the offense before the snap.
Before the snap, you’ll see Deshaunte Jones (WR #8) on an orbit motion to the short side of the field. Once the ball is snapped, Jones runs a wheel route up-field and Purdy scans the field. He starts from his right and gets to the middle of the field, but ultimately he knows that Jones will be available up near the sideline. He fires the pass in there, and despite the pass being somewhat behind the receiver, it’s still a good completion that shows the promise the young quarterback has as a passer.
Earlier, I mentioned how Purdy only has 557 career rushing yards, but he is coming off of a career high in rushing touchdowns. In 2019, he had eight of them and a lot of them were off of designed quarterback runs in the red zone. Let’s take a look at a QB counter play that’s designed for Purdy to get into the end zone.
Looking at the play diagram above, you’ll see the QB counter play drawn up. From the right side of the offensive line, the right tackle pulls to his left and the H-back follows behind him. Once they get to the opening on the left side, they kick out the linebacker and safety.
Watching the play develop in real time, you can see two great blocks by the right tackle and H-back executed for the Cyclones. This leads to Purdy following behind them and getting up-field for a touchdown. Before he takes the ball to the end zone, he fakes out the defense by making it look like he’s going to throw it to his right. This gives the right tackle and H-back time to get up-field.
Crossers for First Down
Believe it or not, Brock Purdy led the nation on passing attempts on crossing patterns with 31 of them. According to Sports Info Solutions (SIS), he completed 19 of them for 407 yards and 3 touchdowns. Aside from using the inside zone run play, the crossing patterns are a focal point of their passing game.
On the play diagram, you’ll see a twins right formation at the top of the receiver. The slot receiver up top motions inside toward the line-of-scrimmage (LOS) before running over the middle of the field. This leads to him crossing with the ‘X’ receiver at the left hash.
Watching the play above, you’ll see how the crosser is executed in the middle of the field. Leading to that, watch how Purdy rolls slightly to his left where he has a potential check down to his running back running to flats. However, with the miscue in the secondary, Purdy has a wide open receiver to his left, and he fires this pass right on the money.
Only using film for one play on the article was a fun way to showcase what Brock Purdy brings to the table. However, after watching three of his games so far this summer, I feel safe in saying that he’s got the talent that some teams will covet during the 2021 NFL Draft process. Obviously, he’s only a redshirt junior, so he still has another year of eligibility after this upcoming season, and we could see him on the field for another season after this one.
Most big-time throws under pressure in 2019
– Brock Purdy, Iowa State – 15
– Trevor Lawrence, Clemson – 11
– Joe Burrow, LSU – 11
– Josh Love, SJSU – 10 pic.twitter.com/50LBvLFgve
— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 26, 2020
For now, he has some really good traits that you can build on. Some of those are the ability to operate off-script, the arm strength needed to throw the ball to all three levels of the field, and the toughness needed to withstand hits in and out of the pocket. However, there’s some improvements needed for Purdy to be in the top quarterback conversation. There are times that he throws off-base or doesn’t rotate his hips completely when throwing the ball. This overall technique can be fixed and with how determined he is on the field; I think he can make those adjustments to help take the next step.
Right now, Brock Purdy might not be in the same conversation as Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields, but there’s always one quarterback that emerges out of nowhere during the NFL Draft process. With how hard he’s worked and some of the traits he already possesses, he should be a quarterback to keep tabs on during the 2021 NFL Draft.