AJ Epenesa isn’t that good
Take: AJ did not get a sack and was only credited with one hurry against Iowa State, so he must be overrated.
The narrative here is actually a little surprising to me. AJ Epenesa did not serve as a stat stuffer in the Cy-Hawk trophy game. That much is true.
However, I’m surprised by how little credit Iowa State fans are paying to their own team. Yes, a coach and his players can plan for an opponent.
In fact, isn’t that the point of coaching? Don’t you want to prepare for the strengths of the other team?
In this particular case, Iowa State planned for AJ Epenesa and did so quite well. Brock Purdy mostly played a West Coast-style offense where the majority of the passes thrown were quick reads.
When you are getting the ball out as quickly as Purdy was, not even J.J. Watt in his prime is going to be able to sack the quarterback.
Iowa State did go deep occasionally, though they did so while using some sort of misdirection. On the first TD pass, Iowa State called a play in which Purdy threw a backward pass to their leading receiver, who in turn threw the deep ball.
Please note that the first pass was thrown away from Epenesa, essentially taking him out of the play.
The second-deep TD pass was a fake pitch (away from AJ), which bought Purdy just enough time to find his wide-open receiver. For reference, Epenesa was doubled by an offensive tackle and a tight end on the play.
The real takeaway was that Matt Campbell did his job well. He neutralized Iowa’s pass rush with an excellent game plan, which Purdy executed well.
I’m surprised that a team that doesn’t want to be considered little brother is focusing on Iowa’s perceived failures rather than their own team’s success.
Take Temperature: Hotter than an Arizona summer day. If you have to game plan for someone specifically, that someone is good.