November 30, 2007

Big 12 Matchups: Maclin vs. Smith

Throughout the week, and will break down every angle of this weekend's Big 12 Championship game. In this feature, we will take a look at five key individual matchups which could go a long way toward crowning the winner. In today's matchup, we examine Tiger wide receiver/return man Jeremy Maclin and Oklahoma defensive back/return man Reggie Smith.

Jeremy Maclin
Reggie Smith

I talked to a reporter who said Brent Venables told him after the first game between these two that Maclin was the best player on the field that night. The thing is, he's better now than he was then. Maclin gets all kinds of accolades for his all-purpose ability and being kind of a "slash" player, but he is just 46 yards from 1,000 receiving this season. He has dropped a few passes, but that's the closest thing we can find to a weakness in his game. Maclin is becoming one of those players who affects the game even when he doesn't get the ball. Kansas made him fairly silent as a receiving threat for three quarters last week…and that opened up Danario Alexander and Tommy Saunders to combine for nearly 200 receiving yards. The Tiger receiving corps has five players (including the tight ends) that will play on Sundays in the future, so Maclin is far from a one-man show. He's been the best, but he's not been alone. As long as we're talking about Smith versus Maclin as a receiver, and not a quarterback, there aren't many who will get the nod over the Tiger freshman.

Oklahoma's pass defense has long prided itself on forcing teams to drive the length of the field, but one player that is completely capable of hurting the Sooners in a hurry it's the freshman all-American. Not only do these two match-up when Missouri has the ball but also are somewhat in battle as opposing return men and will play a great role in putting their offenses in good position. However, the thing the Sooners will focus on is keeping Chase Daniel from delivering too many passes to the talented youngster. If the Sooners can slow Maclin, it's hard to imagine the Tigers keeping pace with a Sooner offense chalked full of future NFL players. However, I think Maclin is one of those guys that is simply too good to keep down for an entire game; and although Oklahoma's zone defense makes it hard to fault Smith entirely it's a reality that he will be a big part of Maclin's success or plight.

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