I was at the game in Manhattan last week with a good friend of mine. We had just witnessed the 82 yard touchdown pass from Rudolph to Washington when my friend gave the hot take of the day. He looks at me and says "I think #Rudolph2Washington is better than #Weeden2Blackmon." At first I was shocked, I never thought I would see the day when there was a better connection than Brandon Weeden to Justin Blackmon. However, with how good Rudolph and Washington have been the last couple years, it’s a perfectly logical debate to have. So let’s dive into the data.
Let’s start with the quarterbacks. Through essentially 2 full seasons at quarterback, Rudolph has thrown for 7619 yards, 49 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. In 2 seasons as OSU’s full time starter, Brandon Weeden threw for 9004 yards, had 71 (!!!) touchdowns, and 26 interceptions. Rudolph will still go down as one of the best quarterbacks ever to come through OSU, but Weeden was on another level in his two years in Stillwater. Weeden carried a 23-3 (2 losses in 2010, and we won’t talk about 2011) record as a starter, whereas Rudolph is 19-6 thus far. Now, Rudolph could have some bigger numbers, but he had J.W. Walsh come in in the red zone and probably took a few TD pass opportunities from him. That being said, Weeden’s numbers would have been hard to catch even if Rudolph stayed in for every play of every possession.
Now to the receivers in this debate. Surprisingly, both receivers had similar paths to the start of their careers at OSU. Both had fairly pedestrian freshman years; Washington had 456 yards and 2 TD’s, and Blackmon had 260 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns. Both Washington and Blackmon had breakout sophomore campaigns. Washington became one of the best deep threats in the conference, and had 1087 and 10 touchdowns. Blackmon, in 2010, had a stellar year, winning the Bilentikoff Award. He had 1782 yards, and 20 touchdowns. Even more impressive than that, he hauled in 111 balls that year. Blackmon followed up his sophomore year by catching 122 passes, 1522 yards receiving, and 18 touchdowns. He won the Bilentikoff Award that year too. Washington is set to surpass his numbers from last year, with 974 yards and 8 touchdowns this season.
Both are fantastic receivers, but I’ll give the edge to Blackmon. Blackmon was one of the best college receivers ever. OSU knew teams would try to stop him, other teams tried to not let him beat them, yet he still did. In 2010 and 2011, Blackmon averaged a staggering 132 yards receiving per game. Washington is one of the best receivers in the country, but he has gotten shut down at certain times during a game, or for a full game as we saw in Kansas. He has not shown the ability to get open when he’s get blanketed, Blackmon found a way with incredible route running. Washington is not running very complicated routes; a fly, comeback, or the occasional slant, so there are times when he can be very easy to cover. You can’t teach his speed, but his route running needs to improve. Blackmon had a combination of both that made him deadly.
So, as for my friend’s hot take, I’m gonna sell here. #Rudolph2Washington is fantastic, don’t get me wrong...but #Weeden2Blackmon was legen(wait for it)dary. I remember being a freshman in high school watching that 2011 team and it felt like that offense could not be stopped. Weeden and Blackmon are two the best to ever put on an OSU uniform, there is no question about that. By the end of the careers of Mason Rudolph and James Washington, I’m sure OSU fans will say the same thing. If Rudolph and Washington both come back for their senior seasons, I might put some consideration towards leaning their way. But right now, on November 13th, 2016...it’s still #Weeden2Blackmon.
What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave comments at the bottom of the page, or tweet at the CRFF account (CowboysRFF) or me personally (@joeliopenfield) and tell us what you think!