Tag:Jordan Williamson
Posted on: January 3, 2012 2:05 am
 

Blackmon, Luck go out with a bang in Fiesta Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



Justin Blackmon 
hadn't even left the University of Phoenix Stadium field yet. But there wasn't any point to delaying the inevitable; when asked as part of his postgame television interview if he had just played the final game of his outstanding college career, he answered straightforwardly. 

"I think I am going to go ahead and enter the NFL Draft," he said, "and see what happens after that."

We already have some idea what's going to happen "after that"--Blackmon will be selected among the very top picks in the Draft, sign a contract worth millions, and very likely go on to become an excellent professional receiver. But nothing Blackmon will do "after that" will better the excitement of what he's accomplished before that at Oklahoma State, where heading into Monday's Fiesta Bowl he had already rewritten the school's receiving record book and won a pair of Biletnikoff Awards as the nation's best receiver.

Likewise, we can already write most of the "after that" for Andrew Luck. The two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up is about to go No. 1 overall in the draft and has a chance to follow in the footsteps of Peyton Manning -- maybe even at the same franchise -- as the kind of superstar pocket-passing quarterback NFL dynasties are built around. But before that, there was three seasons of pure All-American brilliance in which his Cardinal set a school record for scoring all three seasons.

For both players, the Fiesta was the final night of "before that," the final game in the collegiate careers of two of college football's most blinding stars. So it was only appropriate that with the rare chance to square off against a star of equal caliber -- in a bowl that employs the sun in its logo, no less -- both Blackmon and Luck went flat-out supernova.

Blackmon's team won, but no one would have blinked if Luck had been named the game's MVP. His numbers were phenomenal, of course:  27-of-31, 347 yards (11.2 an attempt), 2 touchdowns. He went 8-of-8 in the fourth quarter, expertly managing drives both fast (the 63-yard drive over the final 2:35 to set up Jordan Williamson's ill-fated 35-yard attempt) and slow (the 13-play, 69-yard TD march that ate up 7:21 of the final period). 

But most impressive was the 10.0 degree-of-difficulty throws Luck uncorked with regularity. Passes like the one delivered to Griff Whalen in the second quarter -- an over-the-shoulder "bucket" throw to a receiver sprinting down the sideline, made with Luck moving to his right -- are referred to as "NFL throws," but we're not sure half the League's starters could make them the way Luck does. You could say Luck showed off "the complete package" against the Cowboys, but that doesn't do justice to how expansive that package is.

And still, Luck might have been the second-best player on the field. Blackmon finished with 8 catches for 186 yards and 3 touchdowns, but again, the stats don't do justice to either his physical dominance -- one-on-one coverage was a lost cause for the Cardinal -- or his knack for making those catches at the best possible time. 

With the Cowboys reeling from a lost first quarter and a 14-0 deficit, it was Blackmon who pulled in a pair of lightning bolt scores (one 43 yards, the other 67) to get his team back in the game. Facing a 4th-and-4 at the Stanford 32 and his team down again late in the second quarter, it was Blackmon who caught a short pass and brushed aside two Cardinal tacklers to set up a first-and-goal (and eventual touchdown). Down seven again after a disastrous third quarter, it was Blackmon scoring to tie it (again) to start the fourth. And finally, 4th-and-3 on OSU's own 40 with under 3:30 to play and the Cowboys in "touchdown or bust" desperation mode, it was Blackmon who again abused his defender for 21 yards.

The 2012 Fiesta Bowl would have been remembered for a long, long time even without Luck's and Blackmon's fireworks; 41-38 overtime shootouts between two top-five teams decided by a heartbreaking field goal miss have a way of sticking around the game's collective memory. But what elevated the contest to stone-cold classic status was seeing two players of Luck's and Blackmon's historic talent both grab the same game by the teeth and refuse for 60 minutes -- and beyond -- to let go. It's maybe not fair to the excellent Brandon Weeden or Stepfan Taylor to reduce the game to a mano a mano battle between that quarterback on that side and that receiver on that side, but Luck and Blackmon didn't give us much choice.

And at the end of each of their respective times in college football, that's exactly how it should have been. "After that" will be interesting. But for a night, Luck's and Blackmon's shared "before that" was as good as it's possible to get.

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 12:37 am
Edited on: January 3, 2012 12:41 am
 

Oklahoma State wins Fiesta shootout over Stanford



Posted by Jerry Hinnen

One team had the No. 1 draft pick quarterback. The other had the uncoverable wide receiver. And in the end, the wide receiver won out.

Behind an instant-classic 8-catch, 186-yard, 3-touchdown performance from Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State won the Fiesta Bowl 41-38 over fourth-ranked Stanford in overtime. Quinn Sharp hit the game-winning 22-yard field goal after Cardinal kicker Jordan Williamson missed a 35-yarder for the win at the end of regulation and a 42-yarder in overtime. Sharp's field goal was set up by a 24-yard completion to Colton Chelf to the half-yard line.

That even the Cowboys' 38 regulation points weren't enough was down -- mostly -- to the brilliance of Andrew Luck, who went an incredible 27-of-31 for 347 yards and 2 touchdowns. Luck appeared to have won the game by going 8-of-8 in the fourth quarter, first putting his team up 38-31 with a 13-play, seven-minute drive and then the two-minute drill that set up Williamson for the missed game-winner.  

But in the end, Blackmon and Brandon Weeden (29-of-42, 399 yards, 3 TDs) were too much, even with the Cardinal's 588-406 advantage in total yards.

It didn't look like it in the third quarter, though. The Cowboys picked up a first down on the opening possession of the second half, then went nowhere: three more plays, punt; three plays on their next possession, punt; three plays from inside the 5 following a Stanford fumble, field goal. Total yardage for the quarter? Stanford 135, Oklahoma State 15.  

The teams went in at halftime tied at 21 after a combined five-touchdown barrage in the second quarter. Luck led a pair of masterful drives -- 7 plays, 87 yards for a 14-0 lead, then 8 plays, 80 yards to restore the lead to 21-14 -- but even he was the second-best player on the field thanks to Blackmon. It wasn't just that he caught four passes in the span of 10 minutes--it was that two of them went for 43 and 67 yards, and a manly tackle-breaking third turned a 4th-and-4 at the Stanford 32 to first-and-goal at the 9.  

The first quarter, however, belonged to the Cardinal lock, stock and barrel. While Weeden struggled mightily -- he hit just 5-of-10 for 2.6 yards an attempt, with an ugly interception to boot -- Luck was his usual murderously effective self to start, executing a play-fake to perfection to spring Ty Montgomery for an easy 53-yard pitch-and-catch TD. The Cardinal finished the quarter with a 129-27 yardage advantage, but a missed field goal by Jordan Williamson and Luck's only poor throw of the period (one picked by Justin Gilbert) kept the Cowboys within a possession.

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Posted on: September 18, 2011 2:42 am
 

QUICK HITS: No. 6 Stanford 37, Arizona 10

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

STANFORD WON: 
The Cardinal's first road test of the season -- no, Duke doesn't count, and don't pretend it does -- wound up more of an easily-passed pop quiz down the stretch. Andrew Luck led three consecutive touchdown drives of 80 yards or more in the second half, turning what had been a tight 16-10 game at the half into a laugher. Luck finished 20-of-31 for 325 yards, 2 touchdowns, and -- of course -- no interceptions, while tailback Stepfan Taylor racked up a career high 153 yards on 22 carries.

WHY STANFORD WON: As you might imagine from stats like those from Luck and Taylor, the Cardinal offense pretty much had its way with the Wildcat defense, particularly in the second half. When you've finished the evening with 567 total yards of offense and no turnovers, that's not a bad night's work.

But it wasn't just the Cardinals' skill position marvels ... and in fact, it was maybe less those marvels than the Cardinal offensive line, which led by All-American guard David DeCastro took over the game after halftime. Three times in the first half, the Cardinal took long drives deep into Wildcat territory only to come away with a Jordan Williamson field goal. In the second, with DeCastro and Co. exerting their will on a clearly tiring and undersized Arizona line, those long drives turned into touchdowns. And the game? It turned into a rout.

WHEN STANFORD WON: Despite a Williamson field goal with 1:22 left in the second quarter and Jaime Salazar's errant try from 45 yards at the halftime buzzer, the Wildcats still came out of the locker room with momentum after briefly looking like Stanford might run away and hide at 10-0. And tailback Keola Antolin capitalized on that momentum, rushing for 49 yards on two plays to set the Wildcats up at the Stanford 19.

But Nick Foles missed on a pair of passes and the Wildcats' old bugaboo -- the placekicking game -- reared its ugly head again. Salazar came on to try a 36-yarder that would cut the lead to 3, and from the middle of the field, no less. But he missed, and the "here we go again" body language from the Arizona sideline was unmistakable. By the time the Wildcats put together another drive featuring more than a single first down, they were down 30-10 and the game was well over.

WHAT STANFORD WON: Their Pac-12 opener, nothing to sneeze at, and on the road no less. But the comfortable nature of the victory showed that yes, the Cardinal are still going to be a championship-contending force to be reckoned with, Jim Harbaugh or no Jim Harbaugh.

WHAT ARIZONA LOST: Their second straight game, which given the competition -- Oklahoma State last week, Stanford this week -- isn't so bad. But to lose by 27 points at home even with Foles enjoying a productive night (24-of-33, 249 yards, no picks) can't provide a lot of encouragement for this coming Saturday's visit from Oregon.

 
 
 
 
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