Chuck Landon: MU needs 'Dunbar Flash' in Dobson
Hey, Aaron Dobson, welcome back to the offense.
And how did Marshall's senior wide receiver react to that salutation?
He smiled from ear-to-ear.
"Yeah, it did kind of feel like that," admitted Dobson.
How could his 10-catch, 128-yard performance in Marshall's last game, a 45-38 loss to Tulsa, not feel like a welcome back to the future?
Particularly since it seemed as though Dobson had gotten lost in the shuffle during Marshall's first five games. Unless he was doing card tricks, that's not good.
Yet, that was the case.
During Marshall's first five games the 6-foot-3, 200-pound wideout with game-breaking speed wasn't doing any ... well, game-breaking. Dobson had only 32 catches for 355 yards (11.1 yards per reception) and just two touchdowns.
That's a far throw from everyone's expectations ... including Dobson's.
After catching 49 passes for 668 yards and an eye-popping 12 touchdowns in 2011, he was anointed as one of the premier deep threats in the nation.
And deservedly so.
After all, Dobson does have 96-, 77- and 47-yard TD bombs on his resume. My long-distance service from AT&T isn't that prolific.
Besides that, he was the most valuable player of Marshall's 20-10 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl win over Florida International, after catching a pair of touchdown passes including a game-clinching 35-yarder with 35 seconds remaining.
That's why his rather pedestrian averages of 6.4 catches for 71 yards per game during the Herd's first five contests were rather troubling.
But that's also why Dobson's career-high 10 catches for a career-high 128 yards against Tulsa were so encouraging.
It means the "Dunbar Flash" is back.
"I didn't even know I had that many yards or that many catches until way after the game," said Dobson. "Somebody said, 'You had 10 catches and 128 yards.' And I said, 'Yeah?' I had no idea.
"Just because I fumbled and the ball ended up in the end zone, that over-shadowed everything I did in that game."
Dobson was referring to a fumbled screen pass that resulted in an 11-yard return for a touchdown in the Tulsa game.
But that's the small picture. The big picture is it was good to see Dobson return to the sort of production everyone expected from him this season.
"Yeah, it was good to get back to that," said Dobson. "It definitely felt good. It definitely made me feel better that I had production like that after the loss and after I fumbled."
Why, the Herd even used the once-feared fade route to Dobson in the end zone for the first time since he made "The Catch" against East Carolina last season.
Could that be a precursor?
Particularly since Marshall plays Southern Miss at 7 p.m., Saturday, in "The Rock" at Hattiesburg, Miss. I mean, who do you suppose Dobson's favorite all-time opponent is?
The Golden Eagles.
In three games against Southern Miss, Dobson never has failed to catch at least one touchdown pass. He caught a 29-yarder in 2009 as a true freshman for his first collegiate touchdown reception. Then, in 2010 Dobson added a 6-yard TD catch.
And remember last season?
In Marshall's significant 26-20 win over Southern Miss, Dobson had seven catches for 69 yards including a 17-yard touchdown pass and another TD reception on a fade route during a second-and-goal situation.
In his three games against the Golden Eagles, Dobson has 12 catches for 127 yards and four touchdowns.
So, could his welcome back to the offense be timed any better?
It's as well timed as Dobson's signature fade route.
Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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