Justin Blackmon back from suspension
Coach Mike Gundy said Monday that Blackmon would be back with the Cowboys (7-1, 3-1 Big 12) when they host Baylor (No. 21 BCS, No. 22 AP) (7-2, 4-1) on Saturday with first place in the division on the line.
With Blackmon out, Oklahoma State had its least productive game of the season but still beat Kansas State 24-14 last Saturday. The Cowboys' 48.3 points per game ranked behind only No. 1 Oregon heading into last week, when they needed a defensive score just to reach half their average.
"It's obvious with what he's done all year that it'll be nice to have him back. But on the flip side, I have confidence in all of the guys," quarterback Brandon Weeden said.
Receivers Bo Bowling and Isaiah Anderson and running back Joseph Randle each had the best receiving outings of their careers and combined for 215 yards to help fill the void left by Blackmon, who was suspended following his arrest outside Dallas last week on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence.
Blackmon still leads the nation with 158.8 yards receiving per game and 14 touchdown catches.
"It's nice for me because I get more confidence, and they get more confidence in me. It was good for all of us," Weeden said. "Even though Blackmon's made big plays all year, we all know those other guys can make plays as well."
Gundy said he's sure Weeden would have preferred to have Blackmon out there as his go-to guy against Kansas State, but the experience could be beneficial in the long run. Before Saturday, more than one-third of Weeden's completions and nearly half of his passing yardage had come on throws to Blackmon.
"This system is so based on the quarterback's decision-making and his thought process and reacting very fast that it could've helped him because he should have had to flow through the plays in accordance with the system more so than leaning on a good player, which all quarterbacks do," Gundy said.
Offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen said Blackmon's return won't dramatically affect his game plan against Baylor. He thinks it'll show up more in the plays he's able to make in the same schemes the Cowboys ran without him.
"It's going to make third downs easier. The red zone production probably should be a little bit better, as far as the end result," Holgorsen said. "He's a great player. He has made a bunch of big plays for us."
Oklahoma State's offense also struggled against Kansas State because of mistakes that had nothing to do with Blackmon's absence. Kendall Hunter and Josh Cooper each lost fumbles and the Cowboys committed 100 yards worth of penalties to help drives stall out. They put up 511 yards but had relatively little to show for it.
"It was kind of uncharacteristic. Earlier in the year, we were making those drives and we were scoring, whether it was kicking a field goal or scoring touchdowns," Weeden said.
"I don't know what it was. I don't think it was Blackmon. I just think it was we didn't make critical third-down conversions. We kind of pride ourselves on that."
Gundy said Tracy Moore, who started the first six games of the season at receiver, would have a chance to earn offensive snaps again this week after he was relegated to special teams duty only last week as a disciplinary measure.
Hubert Anyiam, the team's top returning receiver from last season, remains questionable with a high ankle sprain that has kept him out of the last three games.
"All of our receivers can contribute to our team in some way or form," Anderson said. "We're just hoping to expand on that success and spread the ball out more so other people can make some plays."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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