Meet Texas Tight End Dan Buckner, the X-Factor vs. Oklahoma
Much has been made about the Colt McCoy to Jordan Shipley connection in the national media outlets and rightfully so; the tandems cohesiveness on and off the field is unparalleled by any quarterback to receiver tandem in the country.
The synchronization of the combo is a beautiful sight to behold; the harmony as sweet and eloquent as "My endless love" featuring Lionel Richie and Diana Ross once were.
Well, at least for Texas fans it is.
Last year Jordan Shipley carved up the OU secondary for 11 catches and 122 yards and a score. Perhaps more importantly, when OU went ahead 14-3 on a touchdown catch by Ryan Broyles with 13 minutes remaining in the 1st half, Shipley made one of the game changing plays of the year; returning a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown.
That play drastically swung the momentum in Texas' favor and the ‘Horns eventually came away with a ten point victory, thanks in large part to that remarkable play by the sure to be All American.
Jordan has elevated his play to an even higher level in 2009.
The senior wide out is 2nd in the nation in receptions per game(9.40), 7th in receiving ypg(116.60), 14th in total receiving yards(583), 9th in all purpose yards(886), 4th in punt return ypg(18.93), and his two punt returns for a touchdown are tied 1st in the nation with Antonio Brown from Central Michigan.
Simply put, the boy is ballin yall.
Naturally, Jordan Shipley will be the ex factor for Texas once again in the RRR correct?
Not so fast my friend.
Meet Dan Buckner.
Because of injury, Texas was left with a huge void at the TE position for the second year in a row. By the time the season started, Texas was basically left without a viable TE on the entire roster, forcing the Texas coaches to experiment.
They eventually inserted WR Dan Buckner, the 6'4" 220 lb. sophomore from Allen, TX into the position. The experiment was an immediate success. In his first game at the position vs. Louisiana-Monroe, Buckner caught five balls for 62 yards, good for an average of 12 yards a catch. Since that time, Buckner has caught at least five balls in every game up to this point.
"His hands are about as good as anybody we've had at the position," the Texas head coach said.
What's special about Buckner apart from his hands are his size, strength, and athleticism. With Shipley and a corps of talented wide outs commanding so much attention on the outside, Buckner is often left being defended by an overmatched linebacker which has equated into big plays over the middle.
His natural abilities as a WR make defending him in the slot a nightmare for opposing defenses.
So how does this all relate to the RRR?
Last year Jordan Shipley played in the slot position and repeatedly gashed the Sooners over the middle on his way to an 11 catch performance. With Shipley moving to the outside, Dan Buckner will now be inserted into the slot position.
The Sooners have yet to figure out how to defend the middle of the field and the weakness was exposed in games vs. BYU and Miami.
The Sooners will have no choice but to bracket Shipley on the outside, and with other talented wide outs like John Chiles, James Kirkendoll, and Malcolm Williams, Dan Buckner will have plenty of opportunities to make plays in the middle of the field.
In conclusion, while McCoy and Shipley may be the UT glamour boys, it could be Texas TE Dan Buckner who becomes the biggest difference maker on Saturday.
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