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The Tape: Two Plays! We Want Two Plays!

Instead of a longwinded intro, let's talk about what Deon Butler did do this quarter, and that's not much. Penn State didn't do much. Butler contributed as something more than a decoy on only two plays.

The first...

1st and 10 at PSU 7Usc penalty 10 yard holding accepted.

Involved Cary Harris mugging Butler on an out route. (A quick aside: It's staggering how many scouting reports can be deconstructed and their "positives" and "negatives" explained by the happenings of just one game, typically a bowl game.) Beyond the obvious holding penalty, a penalty I attribute not to Butler owning Harris but only Harris confusing the play for a run and Butler for a blocker, there's a few interesting things about this play. Butler is fast out of the blocks and that's important to a receiver being functionally fast. His route is again soft and I've yet to see the dangerous ambiguity of a great route runner. A great route runner must put options into the head of his opposition and use that deception to gain separation. Butler is not knocked off his route, and that's saying something because Harris is a very strong corner and made no bones about contacting Butler. Butler recovered and had Harris beat, but Daryll Clark was throwing to a spot and Butler wasn't there -- however open. It wouldn't surprise me at all if concerns about Butler being bullied by stronger cornerbacks origin in his listed weight and only his listed weight.

The second...

1st and 10 at PSU 20 Daryll Clark pass complete to Stephfon Green for 30 yards, fumbled, recovered by USC at the USC 42.

Is about as bad as a wide receiver can screw up on a running play. Not that the screw up is so egregious, but the result of his screw up is. The announcers initially credited Taylor Mays for the forced fumble, but it was Harris that jarred the ball loose. Mays wrapped around Green's shoulder pads and steered him towards Harris. Harris was being blocked by Butler, and perhaps proving Butler can only block defenders as much as they let him block them, Harris turned Butler, slid under his arm and landed a jarring and ball-stripping hit on Green.

If Butler succeeds, he will be another in Tim Ruskell's litany of picks that succeed despite legitimate concerns about their tools. Ruskell invokes production and makeup and the picks keep responding in kind. Concerns about Butler revolve around his size. At the moment, I'm more worried about his hands and route-running.