Monday, September 23, 2013
Big 12 unsung heroes: Week 4
By Brandon Chatmon
Several Big 12 schools had a bye but other squads saw several players step up when they needed them on Saturday. Here's a look at the Big 12's unsung heroes during Week 4:
Receiver Antwan Goodley, Baylor: On an offense full of stars, Goodley is quietly making a major impact with the Bears. He had five receptions for 156 yards and two touchdowns in Baylor’s 70-7 win over Louisiana-Monroe. He brings excellent size and speed to the Baylor offense, adding yet another explosive threat at quarterback Bryce Petty's disposal. He has 14 receptions for 370 yards and four touchdowns this season, with 13 of those 14 receptions ending up in a first down or touchdown.
Linebacker Ben Heeney, Kansas: The junior was exceptional for the second straight week. Heeney gets overlooked because of KU’s struggles but he’s one of the league’s top defenders. He had 10 tackles -- including a half-tackle for loss -- one interception and one pass breakup. He’s a linebacker who is comfortable in space with the ability to make plays in the running game or passing game. He should be an anchor of KU’s defense for the rest of the year, he just needs help from his teammates.
Linebacker Blake Slaughter, Kansas State: Slaughter was a beast against the Longhorns, making Wildcats fans momentarily forget Arthur Brown. He had 10 tackles, three pass breakups and one quarterback hurry, but his activity on the second level of KSU’s defense should be encouraging with the heart of Big 12 play right around the corner.
Receiver Marcus Johnson, Texas: Who? That’s exactly what Kansas State was saying as Johnson made clutch reception after clutch reception in UT’s 31-21 win over the Wildcats. He finished with five receptions for 70 yards, with three of those catches coming on third down. The sophomore stepped up with Mike Davis and Daje Johnson out against KSU and could emerge as a clutch playmaker who can take advantage of one-on-one opportunities when that playmaking duo returns to the Texas’ lineup.
Linebacker Will Smith, Texas Tech: The Red Raiders defender is constantly around the ball, evidenced by his 9-yard fumble return after Kerry Hyder's fumble in Tech’s 33-7 win over Texas State. He had eight tackles and one tackle for loss against the Bobcats. It’s rare to watch a Red Raiders game and not notice No. 7’s active nature. His continued consistency could be a key for Texas Tech as they enter the heart of Big 12 play.
Running back Dreamius Smith, West Virginia: Really? An unsung hero after the Mountaineers’ 37-0 shellacking at the hands of Maryland? Well, Smith actually had 12 carries for 74 yards, 6.2 yards per carry and, most importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over in the loss. On a squad searching for playmakers on offense, it’s been unusual to watch Dana Holgorsen use Smith sparingly at times. Expect that to change in the future as WVU tries to find some type of identity on offense.
Note: Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU had a bye.