Posted by Adam Jacobi
A look at the key matchup that could decide the Insight Bowl
Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma vs. Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
Marvin McNutt is pretty indisputably the best pure wide receiver to ever wear the Iowa uniform. He holds the Iowa season and career records in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, he's five catches away from the team season record, and he's eight receptions away from the Iowa career record -- all in just three seasons of work as a regular contributor at WR. Not bad for a converted three-star QB out of St. Louis. The 6'4", 215 lb. wideout excels in making catches on the run -- often difficult or even one-handed grabs -- and he and QB James Vandenberg have been lethal on fade routes this season (see above). Iowa is 7-2 when McNutt gets the ball six or more times, and 0-3 when he doesn't meet that mark, so shutting McNutt down is a high priority for OU.
Where McNutt is not particularly effective, however, is route precision. McNutt's stride is long enough that while it's not necessarily a negative on long-developing plays or other routes where he gets a free release, it does affect his agility and ability to shake a cornerback who just needs to play press coverage for three or four seconds, like on hooks, short outs, and other single-move timing routes. And lo and behold, that's two-time first team All-Big 12 cornerback Jamell Fleming's specialty.
Fleming gives up plenty to McNutt in terms of physicality at 5'11" and 191, as most corners do, but his agility and ball skills are advanced enough that he's going to be able to play within five yards of the line of scrimmage with confidence -- especially if OU's pass rush is as effective as expected. Fleming excels in shuttle agility and should be able to make a play on most quick throws that go McNutt's way. Now, if McNutt makes a catch, he's strong enough that Fleming isn't guaranteed to make the tackle, which could spring a big gain or two on slants or any route that ends with Fleming tailing McNutt, but OU's going to be primarily concerned with disrupting Iowa's timing to the extent that those plays are minimized from the start.
Keep up with all the latest on Oklahoma and Iowa at the Insight Bowl Pregame.
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