In an offense designed for a number of wideouts, it is still essential to have a legitimate No. 1 receiver. After an amazing showing on Saturday, most Cowboys fans believe Justin Blackmon can be that receiver.
In just his sophomore season, Blackmon looks poised for a breakout year that can be attributed to his work ethic.
“He practiced well in the spring and the majority of his practices in the preseason were good,” Coach Mike Gundy said.
Using his superior size and strength, Blackmon has mastered the fade pattern. This has helped to develop a strong connection between him and quarterback Brandon Weeden.
“We have a lot of chemistry and it has been there throughout camp,” Blackmon said. “I am starting to get some trust in him and he is starting to get a trust in me that I can go up and get it.”
The emergence of Blackmon will benefit the rest of the offense. Drawing extra attention should free up other receivers and give running back Kendall Hunter more room.
First year offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen has seen a growth in Blackmon and believes that with hard work, the sky is the limit.
“He has gotten better ever since I have been here,” Holgorsen said. “His camp was good and if he can play like he did last week consistently, he has a chance to be special.”
One of the things the coaches have been most impressed with is the leadership role Blackmon has taken on this team.
“(Justin) is a hard worker now. He gets in there and leads by example and is not afraid to open his mouth,” Holgorsen said.
While most people will look at the gaudy statistics Blackmon put up against Washington State, Coach Gundy was happier with other aspects of his game.
“One of the things I was pleased with Justin was how well he blocked down the field,” Gundy said.
For this team to be successful, Blackmon and the rest of the receivers must continue to buy into the team concept.
If Blackmon faces double teams in the future, it may be his job to play as a decoy and get other people easier touches. He seems to understand that drawing attention could become a key part of the spread offense.
“Next game it could be somebody else,” Blackmon said. “With the offense that we have, anybody can have a big day.”
With his hard work, leadership, and strong play he is beginning to earn the trust of everyone on the team.
“He has Brandon’s confidence and he has my confidence,” Holgorsen said. “As long as he goes out there and gives it what he has got, he should have a big year.”