Prince Amukamara vs. Justin Blackmon Game Tape

I think some people began to question Amukamara's ability following the Nebraska/Oklahoma State game where Justin Blackmon caught 5 balls for 157 yards. Well I watched some film of that matchup which was put on youtube by a user named MARI0clip. It was a very telling piece of tape for both players, and using it, I felt as though I learned something about Amukamara's ability as well as Blackmon's skill level.

Let me start by saying that Justin Blackmon should from this day forward be known as "The Incomparable Randy Megatron Fitzgerald," because he is a clear, unquestionable all-star player, comparable only to Randy Moss, Megatron, and Larry Fitzgerald in todays NFL. He had almost 1800 yards receiving, and even missed one game. He averaged about 160 yards a game, so 5 for 157 isn't a career best or anything. In fact, it was his season low in receptions. The Blackmon vs. Amukamara throwdown was a big deal.

The first thing that I saw was actually something I didn't see: Safety help. Yeah, Nebraska left Amukamara 1-on-1 with Blackmon. As it stands now, there are MAYBE 3 people in the world who could cover Justin Blackmon one on one, and all of them are NFL vets. Amukamara did it for most of the game, and only gave up 4 catches (the 5th came against some other corner and went for a 27-yard TD).

The big play of that game was the 80 yard touchdown pass that Blackmon caught. It accounted for more than half of his receiving yards. They show that play in the video. The playcall was a flea-flicker, paired with a beautiful fake by Blackmon, who moved as though he was going to block. It was a little bit of negligence on the part of Amukamara that allowed Blackmon to get open, but that's why you run a trick play: people don't expect it. It's not the kind of play that happens with any frequency, and given the overall ability of Oklahoma State's offense, the run is equally dangerous to their passing game. Amukamara plays the run well, but took one false step and was beat for 80 yards.

I don't put nearly as much weight on that play as do on the others in the video. Blackmon makes another big catch (37 yards) that, in the replay, looks as though Blackmon pushed off on Amukamara. It was a jumpball pass, thrown high and behind, which always favors the offensive player.

The Hokies knew they would see almost exclusively single coverage on Blackmon and decided to throw deep to him often. Several of these plays are shown, and in them Amukamara shows that he can run step for step with Blackmon and deny him the long ball. This is a subtle thing, but I also noticed that there's only one highlight taken after the second quarter, and that is Amukamara in Blackmon's hip pocket with perfect coverage.

Basically, what I'm getting at here is this: if anyone told you that Prince Amukamara was too slow, or not instinctive enough and would slip in the draft, don't listen. The lowest I have seen him in any "expert" mock draft is number 9 to Dallas, and he shows in his matchup with Blackmon that he has the ability to stick with an all-star caliber WR. Blackmon is thought to be the best WR in all of college football, and given that the video shows him targeted at least 10 times in the passing game, I think both players performed admirably.

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