Mailbag: Blackmon, T-Magic and MU's shot

October, 22, 2010
10/22/10
3:30
PM ET
Thanks for the questions, everybody. Enjoy the weekend and Saturday's games.

Allen in Stillwater writes: So, Prince Amakamura is going to keep Justin Blackmon from winning the game on Saturday? As if Nebraska's played anyone else this season! Funny how Oklahoma State's schedule is supposedly so much weaker than Nebraskas. Blackmon isn't used to playing top competition? What about Amakamura? Whose he even played? Idaho??? Sick of the ESPN bias favoring the "traditional powers." You'll see on Saturday! Blackmon for Heismon!

David Ubben: Well, I don't know who Prince Amakamura is, but Nebraska had an All-Big 12 first-team corner last year named Prince Amukamara. Does what he did count for nothing? That's the biggest reason Amukamara will get the best of Blackmon--his experience. It's obviously not as simple as one-on-one; there's always safety help, and Nebraska had great play there last year and does again this year.

That said, take a look at how the top receivers in the Big 12 performed last year against Nebraska:
  • Missouri: Danario Alexander (six games over 170 yards receiving last year, led the nation in yardage): 6 rec, 43 yards (in rain)
  • Texas Tech: Detron Lewis 5 rec, 100 yards (with 58-yard reception)
  • Baylor: Kendall Wright 4 rec, 49 yards
  • Texas: Jordan Shipley, 7 rec, 71 yards (avg. 106 yards/game)
  • Oklahoma: Ryan Broyles 8 rec, 74 yards. (Having covered that game, I can tell you the majority of those came on swing passes)

That's a pretty fantastic résumé. And the one thing that pops out from that set? Zero touchdowns. Here's my deal: You won't get an argument from me that Justin Blackmon hasn't been the most outstanding receiver in college football so far this season. But in his first time around facing guys like Amukamara and Aaron Williams at Texas, it's going to be an adjustment. Oklahoma State doesn't have any corners of that caliber that he can line up against in practice. He's never been the focus of a secondary that ranked inside the top 100 nationally in pass defense. Nebraska is No. 1. It's not like I think Amukamara will completely take him out of the game; Amukamara Island is nowhere near as remote as Revis Island. Even still, connections will be infrequent and difficult. I pegged him for about 5-6 catches and about 70 yards or so. There's no way that's going to be enough to win the game.

If Oklahoma State wins this game (and it's very capable of doing so), it's going to have to do it on the back of Kendall Hunter. For all of Blackmon's success, Oklahoma State's next three receivers don't have as many receptions combined as he does. I don't believe the Cowboys' other receivers are going to be able to get it done, and Nebraska has looked way, way more vulnerable in the running game (see: Texas) than through the air (see: Washington).


Travis Tiblier in Chicago writes: It seems like nobody on ESPN is giving the Tigers any chance to win this weekend. Do you think that Tiger fans will have any chance to celebrate or will it just be another tough loss?

DU: Missouri has a great chance to win, definitely a better chance than in any of those games with the Chase Daniel-led teams. This Oklahoma team isn't as dominant as those were, and we still don't quite know what to expect when they leave Owen Field. Oklahoma nearly lost to Cincinnati on the road, and Missouri is pretty obviously a better team than the Bearcats. The big thing to worry about for Missouri fans is Oklahoma looks like it's playing some of its best football right now, but they've still been pretty susceptible in the fourth quarter, having been outscored 51-17 in five games before last week's 52-0 win over a struggling Iowa State team. If Missouri can keep it to a one-score game inside the final period, you have to feel pretty good about their chances.


Russ in Tempe, Ariz., asks: LOVE THE BLOG! We all know that T-magic is a great player on the field, with that speed and all. But what are your thoughts on him as a leader? I mean he tuned out most of the game after he got pulled. He won't meet with the press. Is this a guy that can Lead the huskers?

DU: I'll tackle this question in two parts:

First, I don't believe that what a quarterback says or doesn't say to the media (unless it questions his teammates' abilities) has much impact on his ability to lead. What happens in the locker room and what happens in the huddle is what matters. We're not there. I can't speak to that dynamic. But I doubt Niles Paul or Jared Crick lost any sleep on Saturday night knowing Martinez chose not to address the media about the loss. If they want to know something about the game, I'm sure they'd ask him, not read this blog or the newspapers. It's maybe a little better to have a media-savvy quarterback, but it's not a big deal if you have one who doesn't care about it.

As a journalist, yeah, of course I'd prefer it if he's talk and provide some insight into why Texas was so effective against him and all the other burning questions. That's good stuff that lots of people want to read and helps people like me do our jobs more effectively. But if I were a teammate or coach? I couldn't care less. There's only so much you can take away from what a player says to the media.

Second, there is a good deal of inherent leadership that comes solely with playing quarterback, but I'd be shocked if Martinez has assumed the role of "The Leader" of this team. Again, I'm not in the locker room, so I can't say with any certainty, but that role should, at least, fall more to the seniors on the team who know very well what the next few months are going to be like and can help prepare younger teammates (like Martinez, who you may still forget, is still a freshman) for those challenges.

Martinez obviously has a huge impact on the outcome of games, but let's not forget: That's a new role. Two months ago, nobody even knew if he was going to play. It's still way too early to start casting any definitive judgment on how well or how poorly he leads. He definitely looked a little detached on the sidelines, but he's young and from what I've been told, one of the most competitive players the coaches have ever been around. It has to be frustrating to be pulled in the biggest game of the year, and even more so when your coach admits later that it wasn't your fault.

For now, let the results on the field speak for themselves.


Justin Adam in Overland Park, Kan., asks: The forecast for Saturday's night game for Mizzou vs Oklahoma currently shows some rain. How do you think this could affect the outcome of the game?

DU: Unless it's pouring rain, the weather won't have a huge effect on it. It's about a 50 percent chance of scattered showers, but Missouri's not going to stop throwing the ball just because it gets a little wet out. They can keep the ball dry for Blaine Gabbert, and receivers are wearing gloves. It's not a huge issue; sometimes people get too caught up in that. If it does start pouring rain, a la Nebraska Thursday night game in 2009, it definitely favors Oklahoma and its power running game. The Sooners have a handful of backs who can run with power, and since Derrick Washington won't be playing, Oklahoma's top two backs, DeMarco Murray and Mossis Madu, are better than any of the backs Missouri's putting out there, not to mention a handful of other young guys who look fantastic so far this year, beginning with Roy Finch and Brennan Clay.

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