AMES — Hakeem Butler did not need Jacob Park to give him a signal. When the 6-foot-6 wide receiver stepped to the line of scrimmage on fourth and one with a little more than a minute left to go in the third quarter, he knew what to do.
A few seconds and 30 yards later, the Baltimore native was in the end zone and Iowa State had the lead.
“Me and Jacob, we kind of already have a connection just from practice and things like that,” said Butler, who finished Iowa State’s 44-41 overtime loss to Iowa with five catches for 128 yards and two scores. “We already knew when we saw the coverage. He didn’t have to look at me, say anything. We already knew what was happening.”
Butler’s first touchdown reception of the day was just one of a number of occasions when the Iowa State receiving corp was able to abuse an inexperienced Iowa secondary. Unfortunately, there were a number of times when drops and mental errors prevented more from happening.
That includes the Iowa State offense’s final play of overtime. Butler likely would have been stopped short of a first down inside the 10-yard line, but we will never truly know because Park’s pass fell through his hands and to the Jack Trice Stadium turf.
“Hakeem gets upset with that he does wrong, but he bounces back himself,” Park said. “He’s not somebody you’ve got to pick up. All I tell him is I’m coming back to him. I don’t lose faith in him.”
— CycloneFanatic.com (@cyclonefanatic) September 9, 2017
Butler has shown the potential and talent Iowa State’s coaches raved about during fall camp. The sophomore has already posted 203 yards on 12 catches with three touchdown receptions in the Cyclones’ first two games.
He has shown he can be a better than average second option alongside senior Allen Lazard, but the drop in overtime will still stick in people’s minds. At least until Butler makes his next big play.
“Hakeem, he’s hard on himself, but he’s one for letting things go,” sophomore running back David Montgomery said. “When things negative happen, he realizes we’ve got to play the next play. When it’s a situation at the end of the game, you know you just have to move onto the next game.”