Tag:Justin Blackmon
Posted on: January 19, 2011 12:55 pm
 

Ok St. loses assistant Brewer to Ole Miss

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A major part of Oklahoma State's rampant offensive success the past several seasons has been head coach Mike Gundy's keen eye for spotting offensive-minded coaching talent. But after losing yet another offensive assistant to another program, it might be time to ask: has Gundy's eye been too keen for the Cowboys' own good?

Former Poke play-caller Larry Fedora was hired as Southern Miss's head coach. Fedora's one-time co-offensive coordinator Trooper Taylor just won a national title as Auburn's receivers coach. Dana Holgorsen spent just one brilliant season in Stillwater before agreeing to become West Virginia's head coach after a one-year apprenticeship. And as of today, Gundy's most recent receivers coach (and his 2008-2009 co-coordinator), Gunter Brewer, has also flown the coop; he's following his father's footsteps to Ole Miss.

As Kyle Veazey of the Clarion-Ledger reports, it sounds like Brewer was just waiting for the right time to come back to same school where his father, Billy Brewer, once served as head coach:

“It’s good to always be coming home,” Brewer said. “So I’m looking forward to the journey. Done some outstanding things at Oklahoma State, and I hope to carry that over to Ole Miss and just expand on that.”

Brewer said he always tried to stay in touch with Ole Miss over the years to see if the timing would be right for an opportunity to join the Rebel staff. “When the opportunity arose, (Houston Nutt ) asked if I might be interested,” Brewer said. “And he was wanting to look at some things offensively that we’ve had success here at Oklahoma State and other places."

In this particular case, it's not that that success was what yanked Brewer out of Stillwater; without his family ties to Oxford, it seems clear he'd still be on Gundy's staff. Then again, it's also clear that if he hadn't put together the kind of resume under Gundy he did -- Brewer was the position coach for All-Americans like Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon -- Nutt wouldn't have bothere reciprocating Brewer's interest in the first place.

At some point, the Cowboys have to wonder just what it takes to keep their offensive staff intact for more than a year. (With T. Boone Pickens footing the bill, you wouldn't think salaries would be an issue.) The price of success is always high, but for whatever reason, it's seemed particularly steep at Oklahoma State.
Posted on: January 17, 2011 1:31 pm
 

Big blow for UGA as Justin Houston declares

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If the nationwide trend this offseason has been for premium-grade junior talent to surprisingly come back to school -- see Andrew Luck, Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, etc. -- no one told the SEC.

Just ask Georgia, who over the weekend lost outside linebacker-slash-pass rush specialist Justin Houston to the draft just ahead of the deadline . Houston joins the Bulldogs' A.J. Green in forgoing his senior season in Athens and is projected as a late first-round pick in the latest CBSSports.com mock draft .

For a player custom-made for the NFL's predominant 3-4 defense -- just ask NFL-trained Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, whose 3-4 schemes made Houston a 10-sack terror off the edge, not to mention a  Nagurski Trophy finalist -- the decision to come out couldn't have been too difficult. (We won't be surprised if Houston winds up looking like a steal if he does go as late as currently projected.) But it won't make it any easier for Mark Richt or Bulldog fans to stomach; between Houston's departure and the graduation of seniors Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble, Grantham's linebacking unit will have to be almost entirely rebuilt.

Unfortunately for Richt, after the 6-7 disaster of 2010, he may not be able to afford to wait for that rebuilding job to pay dividends. He paid Grantham good money to come to Athens from the Dallas Cowboys, and now Grantham will have to earn it. With major improvement required to keep Richt employed and now neither of the Bulldogs' best players from 2010 available in 2011, there won't be any time to waste.

Posted on: January 15, 2011 5:05 am
 

Brandon Weeden walks on with Ok. State golf team

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Last week, Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden and wideout Justin Blackmon delighted Cowboy fans by declaring that each would return for their senior seasons at OSU. Blackmon was widely considered one of the top wide receivers in the draft if he declared, while Weeden will turn 28 years old in the middle of the 2011 season and would therefore presumably need to maximize his availability to the NFL.

Thing of it is, though, Weeden only has one year of NCAA experience as a starter, and there isn't exactly a market for a 28-year-old, one-year collegiate starter (Weeden was a prospect in the Yankees and Dodgers organizations, but that obviously didn't pan out). NFL teams are increasingly aware that starting experience is a helpful -- if not watertight -- determinant in whether a quarterback will succeed at the next level, after all, so trading one year of NFL salary for one year of continued collegiate experience could very well work in Weeden's favor.

Moreover, Weeden doesn't exist in a football-centric vacuum, and he is an actual person with more of a future to consider than "potential NFL quarterback." Weird to consider, yes, but such is life. To that end, Weeden made a decision that will draw the envy of millions of middle-aged men by walking on to the Oklahoma State golf team. Here's what team coach Mike McGraw told The Oklahoman earlier:

“He's going to walk on for us,” McGraw said in a phone interview. “He's a great leader, he loves golf and he's a great Cowboy.”

McGraw said that Weeden would be required to practice and compete just like scholarship golfers, but when it's time for spring football practice, Weeden would be on the football field.

“We had to clear everything with Coach (Mike) Gundy, so when it's time for football practice, he'll be there,” McGraw said.

Weeden regularly plays golf with Kevin Tway and other OSU golfers. McGraw said Tway and the other golfers already have delivered scouting reports on Weeden's game.

“They like his game,” McGraw said. “Now am I saying he's going to lead us to a national championship? Probably not.”

Weeden's decision is enviable for any number of reasons. His off-season practice and film time will time-intensive, as befits a starting quarterback, but unless head coach Mike Gundy is clinically insane, that practice time will also be light on contact. Weeden's spare time, then, will be spent on his senior year of school work and on golf. So then: playing football without getting hit, finishing a degree, and playing golf? If that's not the best way to fully occupy one's self as a 27-year-old, we can't think of what else might be.

Moreover, playing golf is a legitimate business skill, so in its own weird, indirect way, Weeden's decision to play golf instead of go to the NFL is probably going to be a better long-term decision. Weeden's NFL career is going to be short and light on snaps no matter what -- his minor-league baseball career ensured that -- so he may as well get his degree in business management and get his golf game as right as possible ASAP. These skills, not throwing a football, are going to help him earn money for the rest of his life; that he gets to throw a football to guys like Blackmon and Josh Cooper for one more year in exchange for that degree and that year with the golf team seems like an outstanding compromise. This, clearly, is the value of long-term thinking.

Posted on: January 14, 2011 2:11 pm
 

What I learned from the Big 12: Bowl Edition

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. Oklahoma can crush Cinderella in a BCS bowl.  Just as long as Cinderella makes her way to the ball through a BCS conference.  After years of being woken up in the middle of the night due to nightmares about the Statue of Liberty, Ian Johnson and blue grass, Bob Stoops can finally get a good night's sleep.  Sure, beating UConn isn't exactly going to make the country stand up and notice Oklahoma, but at least the Sooners finally get to head into an offseason with some positive momentum behind them.  With Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles both coming back next season, the Sooners are the easy pick to be favored in the Slightly Smaller 12 and should contend for another national championship.

2. Though Oklahoma State may have a different opinion about that.  The Cowboys put the finishing touches on a season that saw the team fall six points shy of toppling their in-state rivals and playing for their own conference championship.  It seems like every season we say that "this could be the year" for Oklahoma State, and the Cowboys inevitably fall short of expectations.  This year, they surpassed them. With an easy win over Arizona in the Alamo Bowl, and the prospect of having Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon back next year, the Cowboys should make some more noise in 2011.

3. Kansas State may not celebrate anything ever again.  It wasn't the most important bowl game of the season by any means, but the end of the Pinstripe Bowl is a memory that is likely to stick with me for a while.  I know the Wildcats will remember it.  What was a great game was marred by a bad call at the end when Adrian Hilburn was called for unsportsmanlike conduct following a touchdown when saluting the crowd.  This decision cost Kansas State a chance to win the game as the Wildcats were forced to attempt a game-tying two-point conversion from the 18-yard line.

4. While we're on the subject of the Big Ten taking things from the Big 12.  Farewell to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who now move on to the Big Ten for the 2011 season.  Judging by Nebraska's performance against Washington in the Holiday Bowl, it's a move that couldn't have come quick enough for the Huskers.  After losing to Oklahoma in the final Big 12 Championship, Nebraska didn't look like a team with anything much to play for against Washington.  As odd as it will feel to see Nebraska playing in the Big Ten next season, it'll be stranger still to not see them playing in the Big 12.
Posted on: January 14, 2011 12:29 pm
 

5 Down: Potential 2011 disappointments

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Earlier today, our own Dennis Dodd posted his pre-preseason top 25 for the 2011 college football season. We here at the College Football Blog wouldn't dare disagree with our esteemed colleague's opinions ... but every year there's teams that vastly exceed the expectations of even the wisest prognosticators (like, say, Auburn in 2010) and some that disappoint despite some seemingly major advantages (like, say, Iowa in 2010).

So later today we'll name five more teams we think can crack Dodd's top 25 next season, and right now we'll name five that are in his top 25 that might slip out ... or, at least, fail to live up to where they're currently placed. Without further ado (and in no particular order):

1. Auburn (15). Slipping from first to 15th already seems like quite a slide, but the Tigers' losses are so major they could easily fall even further. The offensive line loses four starters representing approximately 200 collective career starts; Nick Fairley's departure is only the capper for an entire defensive tackle rotation that must be replaced; Auburn's two best linebackers are graduated, along with the best corner and best safety; and, oh yeah, that Cam Newton guy will be replaced by either a redshirt junior who's never started a game (Barrett Trotter) or a true freshman (Kiehl Frazier). The schedule also turns nasty, with this year's home dates against South Carolina, LSU, Arkansas, and Georgia all on the road. Gus Malzahn's continued presence means Auburn will have a fighting chance of getting back to eight or nine wins, but a bad break here or there could leave Gene Chizik's bunch outside the top 25 entirely.

2. Michigan State (9). The Spartans lived on the margins somewhat in 2010, needing big late comebacks to beat teams like Northwestern and Purdue while stumbling badly against more talented teams like Iowa and Alabama. And now Mark Dantonio loses three senior offensive linemen, soul-of-the-defense All-American linebacker Greg Jones, and offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, who took the vacant Miami (Ohio) head coaching position. For a team that may have already been not-quite-as-good as their record, those are big blows.

3. South Carolina (17). Their appearance on this list isn't necessarily about the Gamecocks themselves, though the losses of end Cliff Matthews on defense and guard Garrett Chisolm on offense will be larger than people think. It's about their SEC divisional rivals at Florida and Georgia bouncing back from subpar seasons, and a schedule that hands them tough road trips to Athens, Knoxville, Starkville, and Fayetteville. It's the sort of slate that likely has four losses on it lurking somewhere.

4. Northwestern (24). We love the plucky Wildcats as much as anyone, but the way the 'Cats were memorably run over at Wrigley by Illinois, it's hard to see them being physical enough to make that much headway in the new-and-improved Big Ten. Five of their seven 2010 wins came by a total of just 15 points, and for a quarterback whose underrated running skills are as much a part of his success as his throwing accuracy, Dan Persa's Achilles injury is a killer.

5. Oklahoma State (7). OK, so with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon back and the Big 12 South not yet back to its 2008 glory days, it's not likely for the Cowboys to slip all the way out of the top 25. But the Cowboys haven't always done well with the kind of expectations they'll be dealing with in 2011, the defense still needs major work, and without Kendall Hunter the Pokes will have to work to ensure the running game can keep opponents from simply blanketing the Weeden-to-Blackmon connection. But the biggest loss by far is Dana Holgorsen, without whom the 2009 Cowboy offense was shut out by Oklahoma even with weapons like Hunter and Zac Robinson around. If Mike Gundy doesn't find a quailty replacement, the Cowboys may wind up as 2011's most overrated team.

Posted on: January 12, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2011 1:40 pm
 

Blackmon, Weeden returning to OSU in 2011

Posted by Chip Patterson

The 2010 season has only been in the books for a little more than 36 hours, so naturally everyone has begun looking ahead to the 2011 season.  One of the early favorites in the Big 12 for next year is Oklahoma, particularly with the announcement that Ryan Broyles would be returning to school.  But the conference competition got even stiffer on Wednesday, with their neighbors in Stillwater making some big news of their own.

Oklahoma State has called a press conference to discuss the futures of quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who were both considering entry into the 2011 NFL Draft.  Fox 23 in Tulsa is reporting that both players will announce their return to school in the fall of 2011.  This is a huge boost for the Oklahoma State, who immediately become a contender in the Big 12 with the duo returning.  The only question for Cowboys fans will be who is going to replace departed offensive coordinator Dana Holgerson, who is now the coach-in-waiting at West Virginia.  

Blackmon, the 2010 Biletnikoff Award winner, led all wide receivers nationally in yards per game, touchdowns, and was third in receptions.  Weeden, 27, still has a year of eligibility left after leading Oklahoma State to a school-record 11 wins in 2010.  He threw for 4,277 yards and 34 touchdowns, completing 67 percent of his passes along the way.  The former minor-league pitcher made quite an impact on NFL scouts, and could find himself in an even better position with another year of throwing the ball to Blackmon.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 1:55 am
 

Bowl Grades: Alamo Bowl

OKLAHOMA STATE

Offense: The Cowboys weren't actually quite as dominant as the scoreboard (or their reputation) would suggest in the first half, punting four times and getting 14 of their 17 points via a 61-yard thunderbolt to Justin Blackmon and a short-field score following a muffed punt. After three quarters, they still hadn't even cracked 260 total yards, and their final total of 313 fell well below their nation-leading 537-yard average.

But with the Poke defense playing the way it was (and the Arizona offense helping OSU out the way it was), the most important thing for the Cowboy attack was simply to take advantage of its opportunities and not make mistakes, and that they did. Both red zone opportunities were converted into touchdowns, Brandon Weeden (who punctuated a pedestrian-looking stat line with several NFL-quality throws) didn't throw an interception, the Poke ballcarriers never fumbled, and Lou Groza Award finalist Dan Bailey went 3-of-3 with makes from 40, 50, and 44 yards. Combine that with the usual smattering of brilliance from Blackmon -- who finished his sophomore season with 100 yards and at least one touchdown receiving in all 12 games he played, not to mention two more highlight-reel scores in this one -- and it was more than enough to cruise past the bumbling Wildcats. GRADE: A-

Defense:
The book on the Cowboy defense was that it could slow down most running games, but would really struggle against a competent passing game, and between quarterback Nick Foles and All-American receiver Juron Criner that's what Arizona appeared to have.

But that wasn't the way the game played out at all. In the secondary, the much-maligned Poke defensive backs picked off Foles three times, held him to a mediocre 5.6 yards per attempt (that still flatters his performance), and scored as many touchdowns from his passes -- thanks to a Markelle Martin pick-six -- as Arizona did. Criner grabbed nine receptions, but none for longer than 12 yards. Meanwhile, up front, Foles was sacked five times and hurried twice that many times at least. The end result was that a pass defense that appeared to be the most vulnerable part of the Cowboy team was its most vital part in San Antonio.

That's not to say the Cowboys didn't allow their fair share of yards; over a span of six drives in the second and third quarters, Arizona racked up 194 yards and crossed midfield five times. But thanks to the stiffening OSU defense, they scored fewer points on those drives (three) than the Cowboys did (six, thanks to Martin). As defensive performances go, it was just this side of dominating. GRADE: A-

Coaching: The Cowboy staff of head man Mike Gundy, now ex-offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, and defensive coordinator Bill Young have a collective reputation for aggressiveness, and they more than lived up to it Wednesday night. Holgorsen tested the 'Cat defense deep and with various misdirection plays, Young dialed up a number of successful blitzes, and Gundy's willingness to go for a 4th-and-2 near midfield up big in the fourth quarter paid off with an Arizona penalty and, eventually, the icing touchdown. The Oklahoma State staff showed by far the more aggressive coaching philosophy, and were rewarded with a far, far more aggressive performance from their team. GRADE: A-

ARIZONA

Offense:
Give the Wildcats some credit: with 369 yards and all the aforementioned forays into OSU territory, it's not like they didn't at least give themselves opportunities. But don't give them much -- or any, if you like -- since they squandered virtually all of them via a variety of mistakes. There was Foles, ruining Arizona's first threatening drive with a one-hopper to an open receiver on 4th-and-5 and throwing all three of his interceptions across midfield. There was the timidity in the running game, with the three Wildcat backs averaging just 3.5 yards on their 28 carries. There were the drops from the receivers, with even Criner joining in. There were the seven penalties, the five sacks, the four total turnovers. There was embattled kicker Alex Zendejas missing from 47 and 34 yards.

In short, there were far more shots aimed at the Wildcats' own feet than at their opponents in the Alamo Dome. When one final consolation touchdown with under five minutes to play -- on Foles' best pass of the night, a long arcing bomb to Richard Morrison -- was called back for a hold along the offensive line, you couldn't have asked for a better single-play summation of the Wildcat offense's night. That kind of sloppiness was simply never going to fly opposite a unit as explosive as Oklahoma State's. GRADE: D+

Defense: Frankly, given the quality of the opposition they were facing, you can't hang the outcome on the Arizona defense. With Weeden playing as well as he was and Blackmon being Blackmon (to say nothing of the likes of Kendall Hunter), to hold the Cowboys to 313 yards and three offensive touchdowns -- one of those coming on a turnover-aided short field -- is quite the accomplishment. A forced turnover somewhere would have been nice, but these Wildcats (active cornerback Joseph Perkins in particular) have nothing to hang their heads about. GRADE: B+

Coaching: Already down 23-7 with less than 10 minutes to play in the third quarter, Mike Stoops faced a decision: go for it on a 4th-and-5 from the Oklahoma State 30, knowing that his team would need all the points they could get given the potency of the OSU offense and the deficit his team faced, or try a 47-yard field goal with a kicker whose confidence had to have been badly shaken from the botched extra points that cost the Wildcats their rivalry game with Arizona State. That Stoops chose the "safe" route of kicking the highly-unlikely field goal (whcih badly missed, of course) tells you all you need to know about the halfhearted, play-not-to-lose, roll-over-and-get-crushed attitude Arizona approached this game with. For all his sideline bluster, Stoops didn't show the kind of actual fieriness and conviction his team needed. (And hey, that's not even mentioning leaving two timeouts on the board at the end of the first half while Stoops raged about a pass interference call.) GRADE: D

FINAL GRADE:
Like so many other bowls this season, the game was firmly in one team's grasp by the end of the first half and entirely out of reach by the time the fourth quarter rolled around. Yawn. Again. At least Weeden-to-Blackmon was worth a look. Grade: C-

Posted on: December 23, 2010 3:47 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Alamo Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen as part of the blog's Bowl Bonanza series. For tonight's Poinsettia Bowl preview, click here .

The Basics: Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. Arizona (7-5), Dec. 29, 9:15 EST

Why You Should Watch: Because it's the Alamo Bowl, silly, the same game that gave us Texas Tech's stirring comeback against Michigan State last year, that saw Northwestern just miss out on their first bowl win since 19-dickety-two against Missouri in overtime, that unleashed this madness on us at the end of Michigan-Nebraska ... all in the past five years. And this year, we've got maybe the bowl season's best matchup of wide receivers in Justin Blackmon vs. Juron Criner, the carnival-worthy facial calisthenics of Mike Stoops, and one final chance to see Dana Holgorsen's flying circus at Oklahoma State before he takes his act to Morgantown. That ought to be enough.

Keys to Victory for Oklahoma State: More than maybe any school in the country other than Michigan, the Cowboys win by simply outscoring their opposition. With Holgorsen's unit ranked No. 1-with-a-bullet in the FBS total offense (and a robust third in scoring) but the Poke defense coming in 90th (and yielding a combined 98 points in their two losses), the pressure is permanently on the Cowboy attack to put points on the board. Anything less than 30-35 points, and the Cowboys will be cutting it awfully close.

The good news is that with arguably the best running back-wide receiver combo in the country in All-Americans Kendall Hunter and Blackmon (not to mention revelatory quarterback Brandon Weeden and his 32-to-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio), even the well-coached Wildcats may not be able to stop from Oklahoma State from hitting that mark. The bad news is that with as much time to prepare as Stoops and his staff will have, it seems unlikely the Cowboys will manage a 40- or 50-point explosion, either. That means the Cowboys will have to come up with at least a few stops, and that starts up front with a run defense that actually finished an impressive 27th in the country in yards-per-carry allowed at 3.57. Leading that charge was first team All-Big 12 senior linebacker Orie Lemon, who led the team in tackles and tackles-for-loss, but he was helped by an experienced (three senior starters) and deep defensive line that had four different members record at least 4 tackles-for-loss.

The front seven will have to be at its best to keep the pressure off of a secondary that ranked 115th in the country in defending the pass, but if the Cowboys can force just a handful of third-and-longs,even their defensive backs (particularly senior corner Andrew McGee)   should be able to make enough plays to let Weeden, Hunter, and Blackmon win the game.

Keys to Victory for Arizona: On paper, the Wildcats don't have a whole lot going for them in this game. They come in riding a four-game losing streak that dropped them to 7-5, with the Cowboys at a stout 10-2; they have further to travel and will do so with dramatically less fan support; their last bowl "effort" was the 33-0 debacle against Nebraska in last year's Holiday Bowl.

But they do have Criner, a 6'4", 210-pound beast who quietly racked up 1,197 yards to finish as the nation's seventh-leading receiver. They also have Nick Foles, who equally quietly led the Pac-10 in passing yardage at 291 yards per-game, completed 67 percent of his passes, and finished in the national top 30 in both yards per-attempt and QB rating. And there's plenty more targets where Criner came from; eight different Wildcats finished with 20 or more receptions. Given the weakness of the Cowboy secondary, a huge night from Foles, Criner, and the rest of the 'Cat passing game could allow Arizona to keep up with an offense even as explosive as the Pokes.

And defying the West Coast stereotype, the Wildcats are also perfectly competent on defense, finishing as one of only 27 teams to allow fewer than 5 yards per-play. The triumvirate of Ricky Elmore, Brooks Reed, and Justin Washington (23.5 combined sacks, 33 tackles-for-loss) give them a dynamic defensive line that should be capable of slowing Hunter's interior running. If they can do that, a well-prepared back seven plays over their heads against Blackmon and Weeden, and Foles goes off, the Wildcats could very well pull off the upset.

The Alamo Bowl is like: the onslaught at the Alamo itself, at least when either offense is on the field; the overmatched and outmanned secondaries are going to come under a hail of football fire from their better-armed opponents, and will hope to simply survive until their compatriots on the offensive side of the ball can come to their rescue. If the quarterbacks and receivers play up to their capabilities, this year's Alamo Bowl will -- like its namesake -- definitely be something to remember.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com