All season long, a running theme for the Oklahoma Sooners has been about new guys stepping up and making names for themselves. Over the past couple weeks, sophomore WR Marquis Brown has emerged as a legitimate weapon. Coming into the season, there were questions concerning who would replace the receiving production lost. Brown was a popular pick to fill some of that void, but aside from some late plays against Tulane, Brown had been relatively quiet before having a strong showings against Texas and Kansas State.
As Marquise settles in, what Sooner fans everywhere should start to realize is that Brown uses all of his attributes to his advantage: versatility, toughness, size and speed. In that order, let’s take a closer look at how each of these traits are advantages for Marquise Brown.
Head coach Lincoln Riley has one of the best offensive minds in the game right now, and he will work to put his players in the best position to make plays. In the case of Marquise Brown, the best position for him is anywhere. It doesn’t matter if he’s lined up in the slot or out wide; he’s dangerous everywhere. In this example, you’ll even find him in the backfield next to Baker Mayfield:
What makes this such a brilliant play is that it forces a huge mismatch against a K-State linebacker. Normally on a wheel route, the running back is swinging out wide from the backfield. While that’s how the play was executed here, the difference is that it wasn’t a running back — it was Marquise Brown. That poor linebacker was no match for Brown’s speed, and with an accurate QB like Mayfield, the play was money.
What I am beginning to like so much about Brown (other than his elite speed) is his attitude towards contact. The knock on a lot of speedsters is that they shy away from contact. That notion only strengthens when said speedster is also of diminutive stature. What makes Brown different from all of that is that he is clearly not afraid of being tackled, as seen here:
Immediately after I saw this play live, I thought of last year’s Biletnikoff winner Dede Westbrook. Westbrook had a small frame, but nobody ever questioned his toughness. Many times he either carried defenders for extra yards or broke away from them altogether. In this highlighted play, Marquise Brown appears to welcome the defender swinging him to the ground before he promptly pops up and signals the first down.
As a receiver, being on the smaller side may seem like a disadvantage, but I’m here to show you how Marquise Brown uses his size to his advantage.
On this play, you can see Brown lined up in the slot to Mayfield’s right. It’s a great play design because Brown is surrounded by blockers from the start, so all he has to do is allow them a second to set up before taking the quick pass and moving the chains. The problem that quickly arises is that not all defenders in the area are blocked, and the scrum begins to close in on the ball. Brown practically disappears for a moment as he gets low and uses his burst to shoot through the crowd past the line to gain. A bigger receiver would have to find another way to move the chains.
If you heard anything about Marquise Brown coming into the season, it was probably his incredible speed. Sooner fans know speed, too, and Brown clearly has some special wheels. Overall, Marquise Brown is fast, yes, but his suddenness and acceleration are what make him lethal in the open field. For example:
What’s most amazing about this play is that Brown not only comes to a complete stop once he catches the ball, he is also facing the opposite direction of where he needs to run. Two defenders are in the area: one who has to change direction with him and another closing in fast. Brown not only recognizes where he needs to go, he gets there in a hurry. Racing towards the sideline, Brown starts to create separation from both defenders before barely getting caught by the one who had the angle on him from the start.
On the season, Marquise Brown has 24 receptions for 429 yards and a touchdown. All of a sudden, the Floridian is second on the team in catches and receiving yards behind TE Mark Andrews. What’s exciting about Brown’s emergence is that he is still finding his groove in the offense. That, combined with the rest of his repertoire, should cause nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators for years to come. Remember, although Brown is a JUCO transfer, he is only a sophomore, so OU will enjoy his services for some time.
Follow Crimson & Cream Machine on Twitter!