It was a tight game for the Cyclones (8-5) in a 28-26 Valero Alamo Bowl loss to Washington State (11-2) on Friday.
If Iowa State limits its turnovers, avoids poorly timed penalties or sneaks its 49-yard field goal attempt inside the upright instead of bouncing off, the Cyclones likely secure a ninth win.
In such a close game, a few positions affected the outcome for the Cyclones, and Iowa State will likely look different at those positions in 2019.
If redshirt junior wideout Hakeem Butler forgos his senior season for the NFL Draft, he certainly helped his draft stock with a nine-catch, 192-yard performance against the Cougars.
Outside of Butler, the top targets for freshman quarterback Brock Purdy was running back David Montgomery and tight ends Sam Seonbuchner and Chase Allen.
Out of the wide receiver group, senior Matthew Eaton, junior Deshaunte Jones and redshirt sophomore Landen Akers each caught one pass, combining for 22 yards.
Hakeem Butler finished his season averaging 101.38 yards per game. The rest of the receivers with a reception this season (Deshaunte Jones, Tarique Milton, Landen Akers, Matthew Eaton and Josh Johnson) combined to average 98.45 yards per game. #Cyclones— Trevor Holbrook (@TrevorHolbrook) December 30, 2018
Even if Butler comes back for another season, Iowa State needs more production out of its receivers.
Jones and Tarique Milton combined for 77 catches this season, but the two play in the slot and don’t bring much size (both listed at 5-foot-10).
Cyclone fans saw in increase in production from the tight end position this season from Allen and redshirt freshman Charlie Kolar.
With or without a lack of big targets, look for Iowa State to continue to increase the load for tight ends as Kolar and Allen put more playing time under their belts.
Regardless of Butler’s NFL decision, expect Iowa State to include other options moving forward.
Friday’s game kicked off with a big play from redshirt senior Brian Peavy, forcing and recovering a fumble on Washington State’s opening drive.
Overall, the cornerback play was solid from Iowa State against the top passing offense in the country.
The Cyclones limited Gardner Minshew II to 299 yards on 35-of-49 passing. A lot of the Cougars’ passing game went to the running backs because of their play style.
Next season, defensive coordinator Jon Heacock is tasked with replacing Peavy and senior D’Andre Payne at cornerback. Luckily for Iowa State, redshirt freshman Datrone Young and freshman Anthony Johnson played significant snaps throughout the season.
Iowa State showed its weakness in the offensive line against Washington State. The Cyclones triggered seven false start penalties with six coming from the offensive line.
The Cyclones return their entire unit and will also have players coming off redshirt seasons. With Montgomery potentially entering the NFL Draft, the importance of the offensive line increases.