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The Incomplete Deon Butler

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Deon Butler is not what you think he is. He's not a finesse burner. He doesn't stick to goes and skinny posts and abhor the middle. He isn't easily jammed. He doesn't play small or slight or "undersized".

He has smooth speed that sneaks up on corners. Kevin Thomas yields a 10 yard cushion on this reception,

1st and 10 at PSU 33 Daryll Clark pass complete to Deon Butler for 27 yards to the USC 40 for a 1ST down.

but Butler blew past Thomas and settled into a soft spot between Thomas and safety Will Harris. It was a deep curl route and a good one. Butler read the defense and timed his break well, coming back for the ball. The speed created the separation: the soft spot between the passed Thomas and the guardedly deep Harris. His speed isn't sudden though, and he looks smooth-fast almost to a fault. Butler is a long-strider that doesn't generate that same kind of speed out of his breaks.

He also isn't adept at tracking the ball in flight.

Butler catches Clark's pass, begins to turn his torso counterclockwise, synchronizes a head fake that freezes Harris before pivoting clockwise towards the sideline. The move gives him a step on Harris and frees him to begin up field. Thomas comes screaming from the backside, Butler slices in separating from Harris, but Thomas jumps and wraps around his shoulder pads. The force turns but does not tackle Butler. Alternately wrapped, trapped and ridden by Thomas and Harris, Butler backpedals, legs churning for an additional six yards. His hard fought 12 yards after the catch is another display of power and open field moves--

Aborted by a Butler screwup. This time it's not a tickytack illegal formation penalty but a kneel down in the open field. Butler is down at the USC 40. Butler, wide open and targeted on a not-perfect, but accurate and catchable pass by Clark, lets the ball into his body and so twisting to secure the pass drops his knee in the turf and ends the play.

We're zeroing in on what Butler is. Final details tomorrow and grade on Thursday.