Play 1: @ Kansas, 1st quarter, 9:52 remaining, 1st & 10
What the offense is running: RPO with the X-receiver (Butler) running a slant, the slot running a deep out, and the Z-receiver running a curl.
What the defense is running: Off-man coverage with what appears to be bracket coverage on Butler.
What Hakeem Butler is tasked to do: Run a slant.
What happens: This is actually one of Butler’s less flashy plays, it wasn’t his flashiest from this game. This was. But it sends Butler’s message; he’s big, he’s physical, he’s fast, and he’s one of the most significant mismatches in recent college football history.
This is a slant route — one of the most common in the game, that doesn’t take much skill or agility to run. But, with that being said, Butler still runs it well; he’s over his shoulders (setting up the DB to run vertically), and, despite being 6-foot-5, he shows good change of direction in the break, turning in about a step.
But we aren’t here for the route. After all, this is an 84-yard touchdown with 67 of those yards coming after the catch. Though it’s worth noting he has a nice catch in traffic well via proper ball tracking and body control, the thing that pops about this play is his speed. He doesn’t just hold off the defenders; he pulls away from them. That’s scary, and even scarier considering his size.
- Butler’s preferred route is the go, and it’s no secret why; he’s bigger and faster than most players. But, he also isn’t afraid to attack the middle of the field and has put up a good amount of quality tape on inward breaking routes.
- This game was later on in the season; it’s apparent in their records and Butler’s game. Throughout the season he showed improvement in attacking the ball with not only his hands but his body too. This is a rep that proves that; I love the way he walls off the defender and shows good ball concentration, not just running and trusting hands alone.
- Butler has elite speed, but he’s a long-strider and won’t reach his top speed in 15 yards. However, a lot of his routes will be designed deep down the field; for instance, this slant isn’t a bit deeper than regular ones, and is vertical breaking.