Blackmon To Face Man-To-Man Coverage

Stanford is set in its ways, which isn't always a bad thing, but Justin Blackmon might make the Cardinal pay for it.

Stanford is known for playing pro-style defensive sets, as both of its co-defensive coordinators are former NFL assistants. Included in that pro mindset is a heavy reliance on straight up man-to-man coverage. And they have said they have no plan on abandoning that entirely just because they're facing the nation's top receiver in Blackmon.

Stanford players and coaches said they will pay extra attention to him on occasion, but they will not change what they do just to take him away like most OSU opponents have done.

"Sometimes there will be two on him, sometimes one on him," co-defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said.  "Derek (Mason) and I will talk about it.  You have to change it up.  If you give them the same look all the time, him and Brandon (Weeden) and coach (Mike) Gundy, they will figure it out.  They are very good at that.  You will see them make adjustments during the game."

Yes, OSU's other options are valuable but the prospect of facing man coverage has Blackmon licking his chops.

"Oh it's the best thing out there," the two-time Biletnikoff winner said, cracking a smile. "One-on-one matchups give you the chance to go out there on an island where it's just you against him. It comes down to whoever wants it more and is willing to go get it."

And Blackmon has been the victor in the scenarios the vast majority of the time, even when he's facing two and sometimes three men responsible for stopping him. Man-to-man coverage is naturally his favorite to see but few teams have dared to throw that look at the Cowboy offense this season.

"It's been slim to very slim," he said. "But I like it every time it happens."

And it will happen. In fact, one Stanford defender said in a roundabout way that Blackmon isn't even the best receiver the Cardinal has seen this season.

"He is up there (among the best we've seen)," safety Michael Thomas said. "As far as all the great receivers we face this year ... he is dynamic just like the rest of them. Robert Woods probably ranks higher."

Blackmon will have several opportunities to prove that theory wrong and quarterback Brandon Weeden said the Cowboys' star receiver is fired up.

"Absolutely. They're going to challenge him and play some man coverage because that's what they do," Weeden said. "It becomes a pride deal. He's going to try to go out and win (his matchup). With any wide receiver that is their focus, to win one-on-one matchups. Hopefully they do and hopefully we can take advantage of it."

"Texas did it a little bit. Teams have done but not as much as you would think. I think they really have to feel like they have a good matchup as far as their corner goes and how he can counter what Justin does. Not a lot of teams have done it but this team will do it. They've shown in the past that they will play man coverage across the board. I think Justin will be looking forward to the challenge."

And a challenge it will be. Both Stanford safeties garnered All-Pac-12 honors with strong safety Delano Howell being named first-team all-conference and free safety Michael Thomas making the honorable mention list. The corner most likely to draw the assignment of stopping Blackmon is Johnson Bademosi, who has favorable size at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds.

But the quality and physicality of the Cardinal secondary should only add more motivation for the Ardmore native.

"Oh yeah, it should be fun," he said.

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