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C.O.W., Part 2 - Who Deserves The Top Awards?
Boston College LB Luke Kuechly
Boston College LB Luke Kuechly
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 23, 2010


Who deserves to win the top individual awards? This and more in part two of the Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Nov. 23 - Week 12, Part 2

By Pete Fiutak

 Nov. 23 The BCS Games We Want To See

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength

With the voting season for the big awards upon us, I’m going to help out the voters with who deserves these things. I’m giving a choice of finalists to select for some of the awards.

13. Unitas Award – Nation’s Top Senior Quarterback
Finalists: Andy Dalton, TCU; Colin Kaepernick, Nevada; Christian Ponder, Florida State; Ricky Stanzi, Iowa; Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin
The Vote Will Be: Kaepernick, Dalton, Stanzi, Tolzien, Ponder
My Vote: Kaepernick, Tolzien, Dalton, Stanzi, Ponder
Player Who Should Be A Finalist, But Isn’t: T.J. Yates, North Carolina

It’s over no matter what happens against Boise State. Kaepernick is by far the best senior quarterback in the nation this year with 984 rushing yards and 16 scores, and with 2,412 yards and 19 touchdowns with six interceptions before the Boise State game. Andy Dalton has been terrific, but TCU has plenty of weapons and a loaded defense, while Nevada isn’t 10-1 without Kaepernick. Tolzien has been brilliant for the Badgers beyond the stats. He completed 13-of-16 passes against Ohio State, 15-of-18 passes against Indiana, and 14-of-15 passes against Michigan. Since the Michigan State loss, he has completed 77% of his throws.

12. Mackey Award – Nation’s Best Tight End
Finalists: Michael Egnew, Jr. Missouri; Lance Kendricks, Sr. Wisconsin; D.J. Williams, Sr. Arkansas
The Vote Will Be: Egnew, Williams, Kendricks
My Vote: Egnew, Kendricks, Williams
Player Who Should Be A Finalist, But Isn’t: None

It’s sort of a dead year for tight ends. Notre Dame’s Kyle Rudolph would’ve walked away with the Mackey on reputation alone, but he was lost for the year with a knee injury. Kendricks is probably the most talented college tight end of the three finalists, but he hasn’t been a dominator this year. Williams has been steady, but he has hardly been Mackey-worthy. Egbew is currently tenth in the nation in catches per game and has two double-digit grab performances with ten catches against Illinois, 13 against San Diego State, and ten against Texas A&M. Without an explosive Jeremy Maclin or Danario Alexander-like playmaker for the passing game, and without much of a running game, Mizzou has needed Egnew, who has been a godsend with 78 catches for 663 yards and four scores.

11. Lou Groza Award – Nation’s Best Kicker
Finalists: Dan Bailey, Sr., Oklahoma State; Danny Hrapmann, Jr., Southern Miss; David Ruffer, Sr., Notre Dame
The Vote Will Be: Ruffer, Hrapmann, Bailey
My Vote:
Hrapmann, Ruffer, Bailey Player Who Should Be A Finalist, But Isn’t: Chris Hazley, Sr. Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech’s Hazley probably deserves a spot over Bailey. He hasn’t missed a kick since the opener against Boise State and has been fantastic from deep hitting a 52-yarder against North Carolina and going 4-of-4 from 40-to-49 yards. Hrapman has been a rock, hitting 22-of-24 kicks hitting both shots from beyond 50. Ruffer hasn’t missed, connecting on 15-of-15 kicks and nailing all five attempts from beyond 40. Bailey has been great, but to split hairs, the four misses probably knocks him out of the discussion. He has made 22-of-26 field goals going 8-of-10 from beyond 40.

10. Ray Guy Award – Nation’s Best Punter
Finalists: Drew Butler, Jr., Georgia; Ryan Donahue, Sr., Iowa; Chas Henry, Sr., Florida
The Vote Will Be: Henry, Butler, Donohue
My Vote: Henry, Donohue, Butler
Player Who Should Be A Finalist, But Isn’t: Kyle Martens, Jr. Rice

Martens deserves to be on the final three list more than Butler or Donohue. He’s second in the nation with a 46.9-yard average while putting 18 inside the 20. Donohue has put 19 inside the 20 and averaged 44.3 yards per try. Butler, last year’s winner, has been terrific with a 44.95-yard average, but he hasn’t quite been at his 2009 level. Henry has been fantastic with a nation-leading 47.3-yard average while putting 15 inside the 20. A finalist last year, Henry will have to collapse against Florida State to not win it this season.

9. Outland Trophy – Nation’s Best Interior Lineman
Finalists: OT Gabe Carimi, Sr., Wisconsin; OG Rodney Hudson, Sr., Florida State; OT Nate Solder, Sr., Colorado
The Vote Will Be: Carimi, Hudson, Solder
My Vote: Carimi, Hudson, Solder
Player Who Should Be A Finalist, But Isn’t: DT Nick Fairley, Jr. Auburn

Oooooooops. Of all the awards, this is the only one that’s totally messed up. Last year, Idaho’s Mike Iupati became an Outland finalist because a few of the select panel of decision-makers were impressed that he was high on Mel Kiper’s draft board. He was in; Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy was out. Had they actually seen Iupati play? Of course not, and apparently, defensive players need not apply this season. Solder and Hudson are good, but they’re not Outland-worthy. Carimi might be the best offensive tackle in college football this year, but a case could be made that Mississippi State’s Derek Sherrod and Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo have been every bit as good. Fairley has been the best interior lineman in college football this year, and LSU’s Drake Nevis hasn’t been far behind.

8. Davey O’Brien Award – Nation’s Best Quarterback
Finalists: Andrew Luck, Jr., Stanford; Kellen Moore, Jr., Boise State; Cam Newton, Jr., Auburn
The Vote Will Be: Newton, Luck, Moore
My Vote: Newton, Luck, Moore
Player Who Should Be A Finalist, But Isn’t: QB Denard Robinson, So., Michigan

It’ll be interesting to see if the voters choose to give the nod to Luck or Moore just because they don’t want Newton to win everything. Luck has been phenomenal and Moore has been flawless, but Newton has been the best quarterback in college football this year. However, Robinson, with a historic 2,000-yard passing, 1,500-yard rushing season, the first ever, deserves some sort of mention.

7. Doak Walker Award – Nation’s Best Running Back
Finalists: John Clay, Jr., Wisconsin; Kendall Hunter, Sr., Oklahoma State; LaMichael James, So., Oregon
The Vote Will Be: James, Hunter, Clay
My Vote: James, Hunter, Clay
Player Who Should Be A Finalist, But Isn’t: Jordan Todman, Jr. Connecticut and Marcus Lattimore, Fr. South Carolina

In one of the coolest things I get to do, I’m on the conference call to help determine the Watch List and the semi-finalists, at least I get to have my say, and we all agonized over whittling down the field. The problem is the timing. We had to put together the list of ten semi-finalists before the South Carolina-Florida game, and there was a fear that we were going to miss the bus on Marcus Lattimore. What happened? Lattimore goes ballistic, John Clay gets hurt, and Jordan Todman carries a punchless Connecticut team into Big East title contention. Clay is certainly worthy of being in the mix for what he did before getting hurt, while Hunter and James are no-brainers.

6. Biletnikoff Award – Nation’s Best Wide Receiver
Finalists: Justin Blackmon, So., Oklahoma State; Ryan Broyles, Jr., Oklahoma; Alshon Jeffery, So., South Carolina
The Vote Will Be: Justin Blackmon, So., Oklahoma State; Ryan Broyles, Jr., Oklahoma; Alshon Jeffery, So., South Carolina
My Vote: Justin Blackmon, So., Oklahoma State; Ryan Broyles, Jr., Oklahoma; Alshon Jeffery, So., South Carolina
Player Who Should Be A Finalist, But Isn’t: Randall Cobb, Jr. Kentucky; A.J. Green, So., Georgia

The stats aren’t comparable, and there’s no arguing against Jeffery, but A.J. Green might have been more valuable for Georgia, saving the Bulldog season after coming back from suspension. Cobb was outstanding as a do-it-all performer and deserves to be in the top three as the main weapon for a Kentucky team that wouldn’t be anywhere near a bowl game without him. Jeffery’s 70 catches for 1,210 yards and seven touchdowns, though, are fantastic. Broyles is having the greatest receiving season in Oklahoma history, and would win the Biletnikoff in a blowout in most years, but Blackmon has been unstoppable with 100 yards and a score in every game but the Kansas State game, which he missed because of disciplinary reasons. However, the award could come down to Broyles and Blackmon in the Bedlam showdown this weekend. Whichever one has the better game, will probably get the honor.

5. Thorpe Award – Nation’s Best Defensive Back
Finalists: Prince Amukamara, Sr., Nebraska; Tejay Johnson, Sr., TCU; Patrick Peterson, Jr., LSU
The Vote Will Be: Peterson, Johnson, Amukamara
My Vote:
Peterson, Amukamara, Johnson Player Who Should Be A Finalist, But Isn’t: Davonte Shannon, Sr. Buffalo

Shannon is the top tackling defensive back in America averaging over ten per game with 112 stops on the season. A great four-year playmaker, he’s finishing strong with a career-high four interceptions with two broken up passes. He deserves to be on the list instead of Johnson and Amukamara, but Peterson has been too good and too much of a great all-around player and too intimidating to not get the award. Amukamara has broken up a ton of passes but he has yet to come up with a pick, while Johnson has been good, but hardly Thorpe-worthy. This should be a slam-dunk.

4. Butkus Award – Nation’s Best Linebacker
The Finalists Are: Akeem Ayers, Jr. UCLA; Bruce Carter, Sr. North Carolina; Mason Foster, Sr. Washington; Mario Harvey, Sr. Marshall; Dont’a Hightower, Jr. Alabama; Justin Houston, Jr. Georgia; Nate Irving, Sr. NC State; Greg Jones, Sr. Michigan State; Luke Kuechly, So. Boston College; Travis Lewis, Sr. Oklahoma; Casey Matthews, Sr. Oregon; Von Miller, Sr. Texas A&M; Keenan Robinson, Jr. Texas; Sean Spence, Jr. Miami; Manti Te’o, Soph. Notre Dame
The Winner Will Be: Kuechly
My Vote: Kuechly, Foster, Te’o
Player Who Deserves To Be A Finalist, But Isn’t: Danny Trevathan, Sr. Kentucky

Any list of the ten best linebackers this season that doesn’t have Trevathan on it is worthless. The Kentucky junior is ninth in the nation in tackles, seventh in solo stops, 21st in the nation in tackles for loss, and is tenth in the nation in forced fumbles. He made 15 tackles against Ole Miss, 17 against Auburn, and 16 against Mississippi State with eight games this season with double-digit stops. This gaffe can be made up for, at least partially, if Kuechly wins in a walk. He deserved to be considered among the top three linebackers in America as a freshman, but Boston College didn’t promote him and he flew under the radar. Not this year. The Eagle sophomore has taken a backseat to the Mark Herzlich story, but his production has been jaw-dropping with 161 tackles and would be hovering around the top 50 on solo stops alone. Averaging close to two tackles per game more than the nation’s second-best tackler, Foster, he made 20 tackles against NC State, 21 against Duke, and has made double-digit stops in every game.

3. Bednarik Award – Nation’s Best Defensive Player
Finalists: DE Da’Quan Bowers, Jr. Clemson; DT Nick Fairley, Jr. Auburn; CB Patrick Peterson, Jr. LSU
The Vote Will Be: Fairley, Peterson, Bowers
My Vote: Bowers, Fairley, Peterson (but if I could go off the menu, I’d make it Kuechly, Bowers, and Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue)
Player Who Should Be A Finalist, But Isn’t: Luke Kuechly, So. Boston College

Peterson should be bumped off for Kuechly, and Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan probably belongs somewhere in the discussion. Bowers has been special with a nation-leading 15.5 sacks, with 2.5 more than Kerrigan, who has been dominant throughout the year with 12.5 sacks, five forced fumbles (ranking second in the nation), and a nation-leading 25 tackles for loss. There’s no arguing against Fairley, but he’s getting helped from the Rolando McClain factor. The former Alabama star wasn’t the best linebacker in the nation last year, and he wasn’t among the top three, but he was on TV every week and the buzz was deafening. Fairley is more deserving this year than McClain was last year, but he’s here because he’s on a national title-level team and Kerrigan isn’t.

2. Maxwell Award – Nation’s Best Player
Finalists: Andrew Luck, Jr., Stanford; Kellen Moore, Jr., Boise State; Cam Newton, Jr., Auburn
The Vote Will Be: Luck, Newton, Moore
My Vote: Newton, Luck, Moore
Player Who Should Be A Finalist, But Isn’t: QB Denard Robinson, So., Michigan

Just like the Davey O’Brien debate, this could quickly change depending on what happens over the final few weeks. The Maxwell often becomes the booby prize for the guy who won’t win the Heisman. Colt McCoy won last year, and Mark Ingram got the Heisman. This is where Luck probably wins, just in case the Newton situation blows up, and then Newton will win the Heisman in a landslide.

1. Heisman – “The most outstanding college football player in the United States for 2010."
The Vote Will Be: 1) QB Cam Newton, Jr. Auburn, 2) QB Andrew Luck, Jr. Stanford, 3) QB Kellen Moore, Jr. Boise State
My Vote: 1) QB Cam Newton, Jr. Auburn, 2) QB Andrew Luck, Jr. Stanford, 3) QB Denard Robinson, Soph. Michigan, but …

Last year at this time I wrote that the three finalists were probably going to be Mark Ingram, Colt McCoy, and Tim Tebow, and everything changed as Mr. Suh used McCoy as a throw pillow and Toby Gerhart rocked against Notre Dame. This year, if Denard Robinson, whose numbers compare to Cam Newton’s, goes ballistic against Ohio State, he’s in the final three. If LaMichael James runs wild against Arizona and Oregon State and carries Oregon to the BCS Championship, he might crack the final three. And, of course, there’s the Newton situation. If there’s anything negative that comes out in the next few weeks, his Heisman might be done.

Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn’t feel like writing bigger blurbs for.

- Has anyone lost a job at Notre Dame over the death of Declan Sullivan?

- Oregon blew away Stanford in the fourth quarter and won in impressive fashion. Wisconsin dominated Ohio State from the opening kickoff in Camp Randall. Auburn beat LSU in a classic in Jordan-Hare. Isn’t it fair to think that at least two of those three games would’ve gone the other way if they were played at Stanford, Ohio State, and LSU, respectively?

- Taking the off-the-field stuff out of the equation, Cam Newton should be the hands-down winner of the Heisman. However, when making the case for him, talking heads, don’t bring up the receiving score as a reason why he’s a great player. He’s second in the nation in passing efficiency, he has run for 17 touchdowns and 1,297 yards, and he has thrown 21 touchdown passes and just six interceptions. That he caught a 22-yard pass against Mississippi State and made a 20-yard scoring grab against Ole Miss just shows that the coaching staff is creative.

- The lead sentence in the AP copy on the Virginia Tech win over Miami: “Virginia Tech had one bad week this season. The Hokies have been perfect in all others.”

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: The non-BCS Championship, BCS games … Underrated: The Capital One and the Outback
2) Overrated: The Dallas Football Classic … Underrated: The TicketCity Bowl
3) Overrated: Complaining about TSA screenings ... Underrated: Death
4) Overrated: Pumpkin Pie ... Underrated: Pecan pie
5) Overrated: The Wrigley Field fiasco ... Underrated: 33 carries, 330 yards, two touchdowns

“Tracy did mention we shouldn't let him gamble. Or drink too much.”… Last week was a gift from the gods. When you speak of me, speak well. … Week 11 Results: 1) 1) Clemson -13 over Wake Forest (W Clemson 30-10), 2) Oklahoma State -23.5 over Kansas (W 48-14), 3) Illinois -7 over Northwestern (W 48-27) … Record So Far: ATS 20-11-2

This week's picks: 1) Tulane +9 over Marshall, 2) Connecticut -1.5 over Cincinnati, 3) Iowa -15.5 over Minnesota

If the college football season ended right now, this would be my Heisman ballot cast for the Most Outstanding College Football Player in the United States for 2010. … 1) Cam Newton, QB Auburn, 2) Kellen Moore, QB Boise State, 3) Denard Robinson, QB Michigan

Sorry this column sucked, it wasn’t my fault … Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman got mad at me for the foul language and the behavior. The column embarrassed the state and the program, but to be fair, the 16 penalties were a bit excessive.

 Nov. 23 The BCS Games We Want To See