Washington State emerged victorious in a back-and-forth thriller against Iowa State. The Cougars defeated the Cyclones 28-26 to win the 2018 Valero Alamo Bowl. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:
16 Gardner Minshew (6’2 220) Washington State QB-Senior
The East Carolina transfer put together a season that ended with him winning the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award, which is given to the nation’s top senior quarterback. Minshew impressed in the Valero Alamo Bowl with his short compact delivery and his elusiveness in the pocket. Iowa State opted to rush just three defensive linemen for the better part of the game and he took his time with patient reads. When he is at his best, Minshew can power off his back foot and drive the ball in the short and intermediate passing game. At the next level, the Cougars quarterback will have to answer questions about his deep ball accuracy and ability to run a less quarterback-friendly offense than head coach Mike Leach’s air raid offense. The former ECU Pirate finished his senior season with 4,779 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
4 Marcus Strong (5’9 185) Washington State CB-Junior
Marcus Strong showed his anticipation and ball skills when he jumped a slant in the first quarter and ran the interception in for a touchdown. The junior cornerback, however, was called for a taunting penalty and had his touchdown negated. For the game, Strong finished with seven tackles, one sack and one interception. He impressed this season -and against Iowa State- with his ability to compete and play through the whistle. Despite giving up nine inches against Iowa State receiver Hakeem Butler, Strong got physical and made life hard on the taller opponent. The lack of size will concern scouts, but the Cougars cornerback has the right mentality to play on the outside in the NFL.
18 Hakeem Butler (6’6 225) Iowa State WR-Junior
Butler is physical and not afraid to put his hands on the opposing cornerback to create room in his routes. He also showed the skills to seal the edge during running plays. Despite his height, Butler can still get low and get in-and-out of his breaks (see his comeback routes during the first half). The junior had a productive season, posting 60 catches for 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns. Against Washington State, he caught nine passes for 192 yards. This included an acrobatic one-handed catch over the middle of the field.
32 David Montgomery (5’11 216) Iowa State RB-Junior
David Montgomery has the tools to be an every down back at the next level. He showed soft hands in the receiving game in the Valero Alamo Bowl (4 catches for 55 yards). And like he did all season long, he refused to go down on first contact. Against Washington State, he ran for 124 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. On the season, the Cincinnati native rushed for 1,216 yards and 13 touchdowns.