Play 3: Vs. Oklahoma, 3rd quarter, 11:57 remaining, 1st & 10
What the offense is running: Play-action two-man route consisting of go routes.
What the defense is running: Cover 3 zone.
What Hakeem Butler is tasked to do: Run a go route.
What happens: If you weren’t impressed with Butler after the previous play, you are now. Though the catch wasn’t as ridiculous as the last, the physicality and game-changing aspect of the play will forever make it onto Iowa State and Hakeem Butler highlights reels.
But let’s look at the play out of context. This is an interesting rep due to the press-man coverage played by the cornerback. There are two parts to factor in here that help Butler get outside separation; his three-step in-then-out and his hand usage to keep the cornerback an arms-length away.
After the release, Butler does the one thing all big receivers should do at the catch point; turn around, box out the defender, and tuck the ball in. He uses his body and hands to reel in the catch, then proceeds to remind the viewers that he’s the biggest player beyond the line of scrimmage. Again, he finishes the play with physicality, truly using his frame, strength, and speed to his advantage.
- Butler is a long-striding deep-threat. At the next level, this means he must continue to develop his release techniques. Luckily, that area of his game truly has grown as he has planned methods to beat the press and is physical with his arms. If he can compact his foot movements, creating separation shouldn’t be a big worry.
- Excellent body control and ball-tracking. On the replay, you’ll notice him making an effort to track the ball into his hands and then finish the play.
- His physicality should translate well into the NFL. He’s not only big, but he’s also strong, and he’s lengthy. However, he does need to be a bit safer with the ball in his hands.
- Butler’s favorite route is a go, and it’s hard not to blame him. Couple his developing release technique with his unfair blend of speed and length with a dash of physicality and catch radius on top and you have the proper player to run these routes.