NOTEBOOK: On Butler’s “all right” day, Noland’s absence and Kempt’s availability

Oct 27, 2018; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Hakeem Butler (18) catches a pass for the touchdown late in the 4th quarter as Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive back Damarcus Fields (23) makes a late attempt for the tackle at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones beat the Red Raiders 40 to 31. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

AMES — Iowa State standout receiver Hakeem Butler made three dazzling catches in Saturday’s 40-31 win over Texas Tech at Jack Trice Stadium.

 But it’s a handful of drops — instead of the game-sealing touchdown grab — that stuck with him after the Cyclones forged their third straight victory.

 “Everybody’s like, ‘Good game,’” said Butler, whose catches of 41, 44 and 48 yards rank fifth-seventh among ISU’s longest plays from scrimmage this season. “I mean, it was all right. I could have definitely done better. It was just a great relief to put the dagger in the game and finish it like that. (Quarterback) Brock (Purdy) believed in me. Coach Joel (Gordon) believed in me. I’m just thankful.”

 As are the rest of the Cyclones (4-3, 3-2), who emerged victorious despite giving up two non-defensive touchdowns to the Red Raiders (5-3, 3-2).

 ISU has given up four non-defensive touchdowns this season — and three in the past two games, (both wins) but still closed out a perfect October (3-0) for the second straight season.

 “We’ve been overcoming mistakes since the beginning of the season,” said Butler, who climbed to a tie for third all-time with his 15th career touchdown reception. “Since I’ve been here we’ve been overcoming a lot of stuff, so that’s just life for me. There’s always bad stuff that’s gonna happen. You can’t let it define you or bring you down.”

 It never slows the 6-6 Butler, who posted his second straight 100-yard receiving game and climbed from 18th to 11th in program history at 1,425 career receiving yards.

 It didn’t stop ISU from holding Tech 13 points below its per game scoring average, either.

 “We’ve always grinded,” Butler said. “We just always come back within ourselves and we keep it pushing.”


 Backup quarterback Zeb Noland’s was noticed by everyone in the press box (and many in the stands, too). After the game, ISU head coach Matt Campbell confirmed he was not with the team, though he has not left it, either.

 “He kind of took a personal leave of absence this week and I don’t know where that is right now, but he did nothing wrong,” Campbell said of Noland. “There was nothing in terms of anything else other than we’ll have maybe some definitive to that here maybe sometime next week and I’ll certainly let you guys know.”

 Noland started four games after sixth-year senior Kyle Kempt was injured in the season-opening Iowa loss. The Cyclones went 2-2 in that span — though Noland was relieved by true freshman Brock Purdy in the 48-42 win at Oklahoma State.

 Purdy’s boosted ISU to back-to-back wins over West Virginia and Tech since he assumed the starting spot and doesn’t shy away from contact in the run or pass game.

 “I love it,” Campbell said of Purdy’s toughness. “He’s gonna keep playing that way because that’s who he is. We’re really fortunate. I think we’ve got really good depth here. Whether Zeb chooses to be with us or not, I think there’s some really good players and obviously we’ve got a senior leader (Kempt) that’s one of the best leaders in our program. So I feel really comfortable with where we’re at and I certainly — I love Zeb, what he’s about and what he stands for. We’ve got to see what decision he chooses to make here.”

 Campbell added that Kempt’s MCL injury has mended well enough that he likely could be available from here on out.

 “He can,” Campbell said. “Yes.”


 Highly-rated JUCO transfer defensive lineman Kamilo Tongamoa finally saw a bit of extended playing time against the Red Raiders. 

 Tongamoa, a 6-5, 309-pound senior who was suspended to start the season, didn’t post a tackle, but he did help block on offense for one of David Montgomery’s two one-yard touchdown runs. 

 “He’s just a guy — I think his story so parallels to our team,” Campbell said. “You could easily be frustrated when you’re not playing, especially as a senior. (Tailback) Mike (Warren) is very similar and Mike got dinged up or he would have played more today. But they’re guys that have, they just kept grinding away. And kept earning the trust of their coaches and team. They’re guys that are helping us when we need them the most, they’re stepping up in some powerful situations and tip your hat to those guys. But Kamilo, I’m really, really proud of, because the journey hasn’t always been easy for Kamilo, but he’s stayed the course and he’s been really loyal to his teammates and himself and I’m proud of him.”


 ***Marcel Spears, Jr.’s two interceptions Saturday — including a key 41-yard pick-six — made him the first Cyclone player with multiple INTs since Sam E Richardson also snared two in a 2014 loss to Oklahoma.

 ***Purdy’s nine touchdown passes in his first three career games rank second among true freshman in program history, and are tied for the most in a three-game span among QB of all eras (Wayne Stanley, 1974; Todd Bandauer, 1995).

 ***Deshaunte Jones has caught a pass in 30 consecutive games, which ranks second all-time to current pro Allen Lazard, who posted at least one catch in each of his 48 career games.

***Tarique Milton grabbed a single-game career-high seven receptions, including the first six completions of the game from Purdy. He has totaled 89 or more yards receiving in two of the past three games.


Rob Gray


Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.

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