Wednesday, April 13, 2011
More tidbits from a visit to Stillwater
By David Ubben
STILLWATER, Okla. -- I hope you've all enjoyed our coverage from my visit to Oklahoma State this spring. We'll have some more from Oklahoma in the next week or so, but here's what you've missed from OSU if you're not my most faithful reader.
He's close, but might not even be the fastest Cowboy, according to Justin Blackmon. Look out for Isaiah Anderson, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior receiver.
"Isaiah might be able to beat him. I’d put my money on Isaiah."
A race between Oklahoma State speedsters Isaiah Anderson, above, and Justin Gilbert, not pictured, would be worth watching.
As a sophomore in 2010, Anderson caught 12 passes for 216 yards, but he's impressed Blackmon this spring. A race between the two hasn't gone down, but hey, Cowboys: There's time after practice. Make it happen and get back to me.
A race has already happened at least once. Running back Jeremy Smith lined up for a sprint against receiver Hubert Anyiam this summer. No shocker here. Anyiam took it home.
"I think Hubert is pretty up there when he’s at full strength, but I’d like to see Isaiah and Gilbert race," Weeden said. "[Anderson] was the Texas state sprint champion."
"He’s definitely one of the quickest, he’s just so smooth," he said.
I'll eagerly await the results of that run-off. Gilbert's been one of the standouts of spring camp, impressing just about everyone. Blackmon was reserved about taking credit for that development in making Gilbert cover him every day, but it definitely can't hurt.
"I just go out there and compete. He does the same thing. I’ll let him know when he does something good and it’s just on and on," he said. "He’s probably the most improved, the guy to look out for most next year."
Weeden and the OC selection
I was curious as to how much say either of the two stars had in coach Mike Gundy selecting Todd Monken as his offensive coordinator. The short answer: Some, but not a ton. Weeden spoke with Monken for about 45 minutes during the interview process, and after the conversation, the quarterback hung up and called Gundy right away to offer his endorsement.
"He was pretty intense," Weeden said.
Monken did most of the talking, while Weeden soaked it up.
"He was excited about the opportunity and wanted to give me a feel for the type of person he was," Weeden said. "We talked a little bit X’s and O’s but more just shooting the bull. I felt good about it."
Blackmon and Monken didn't have any contact until Monken had been hired. They first met during an offseason workout.
Early in the process, Gundy showed Weeden a long list of a few candidates, providing some brief background on each.
"I met with him probably 6-7 times about the whole process," Weeden said. "He’d say, here’s the guys I’m thinking."
Eventually, Gundy narrowed it down to two or three candidates and told Weeden to research them and tell him what he thought.
"Not that my say would have had any matter; he was going to hire who he wanted, but I think he just wanted me to be sure that we weren’t going to change anything for one, and it was going to be a guy I was going to be dealing with," Weeden said. "He wanted to hire a quarterback coach, not a guy who would go and coach receivers. I think that had more to do with [why and how often we met] more than anything."
I don't entirely agree that Weeden's say had no impact, but it's got to feel nice to even have as much say as Weeden did. I highly, highly doubt that Gundy would have hired a coach that Weeden didn't feel comfortable with or didn't feel fit the culture of the program.
Granted, I also imagine Weeden and Gundy had a similar picture of what they wanted in a new hire as well.
On the lockout
Weeden and Blackmon had big decisions to make, but even as players needing information pretty badly, they didn't know much more than the rest of us did when it came to the NFL lockout looming over the end of the season.
"All I heard was that nobody knew what was going to happen," Blackmon said.
The lockout is well past the 30-day mark now, but neither player has spent much time tracking when it will end.
"I'm not following it at all," Weeden said. "Whatever is on SportsCenter, if they say anything."
Anyiam back on track
Anyiam led the team in receiving in 2009, when Dez Bryant missed the final 10 games of the season after lying to NCAA investigators about his relationship with Deion Sanders.
Anyiam looked poised for a big year last year, but tried to play through an ankle injury. His situation was similar to the one Kendall Hunter played through in 2009, and instead of Anyiam, Blackmon emerged as the go-to receiver for the Cowboys.
This spring, though, Anyiam is back on track. Blackmon agreed that Anyiam could be a player who hauls in 60-70 receptions next season.
"I think so," he said. "His confidence is back and I think he’s full speed."
Blackmon emerged early on
Oklahoma State's practices are almost entirely closed, but Missouri's spring and fall camps are both open. As such, it was obvious pretty early that T.J. Moe, who caught two passes as a freshman in 2009, would be a much bigger part of the offense in 2010. He led the team with 92 catches and 1,045 yards.
Was the same true for Blackmon, who had just 20 catches as a freshman but finished with 111 last year in his Biletnikoff Award-winning season?
"On certain days, probably," he said.
Weeden wasn't buying it.
"I disagree. Blackmon’s always been that guy that practices harder than any other guy, even now," he said. "I’m not saying the other guys don’t practice hard, but he’s always balls to the wall. Once we knew Dez wasn’t coming back, we knew somebody had to step up, and Hubert was hurt."
Blackmon and Weeden developed an early connection
Weeden seemed to trust Blackmon enough last year to throw the ball up in plenty of situations you don't see balls being thrown often.
We had a busted play one time [against Louisiana-Lafayette], and every other receiver was on a screen. I saw him throw his hand up and I was like, 'Well, let’s see what happens,' Weeden said. "I figured either he’s going to catch it or nobody’s going to catch it."
Blackmon hauled it on for a 37-yard touchdown in the middle of three defensive backs, his second score of the game.
Weeden said that play cemented his trust, but when did Blackmon know?