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Tuesday Question - The Midseason Honors
Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster
Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster
Posted Oct 14, 2008

Midseason Stuff: Best Offensive Player, Defensive Player, Coach, Surprise and Disappointment.

Past TQs
- OU - Texas, LSU - Fl, PSU - Wisc.
- Where should BYU, Bama, USC & Penn State be ranked?
- Is the MWest better than the Pac 10?
- If USC is No. 1, who's No. 2?
- The best unknown storyline
- Will the week 1 duds rebound?
- Top Week 1 Games
- Predict the 2008 Season
- Does Sean Lee's injury change your view of spring ball?
- Is a CF Final 4 a good idea?
- How good will Terrelle Pryor be?
- 2008 March Madness Picks

- What can college football learn from March Madness?
- Three Big Spring Storylines
- The Combines are missing ...
- Best & Curious Coaching Hires

- 2008 Wish List
- The 3 Big Bowl Questions

- What are you most looking forward to from the bowls?
- Did the BCS get it right?
- Who deserves a spot more, OSU or WVU?

- What BCS matchups do you want?
- 10 Greatest Quarterbacks of All-Time
- 10 Greatest Defensive Players of All-Time
- 10 Greatest Regular Season Games of All-Time
- 10 Greatest Playmakers of All-Time
- 10 Worst Heisman Winners
- 10 Greatest Bowl Games
- All-Time Offensive Team
- All-Time Defensive Team

Pete Fiutak     

Q: Midseason Stuff: Best Offensive Player, Defensive Player, Coach, Surprise and Disappointment.

A: Best Offensive Player - Colt McCoy, QB Texas
Let's give the Heisman to the quarterback of the Big 12 champion. Over the first half of the season, McCoy has been flawless completing 79% of his passes for 1,557 yards and 17 touchdowns with three interceptions. He's also been great on the ground rushing for 348 yards and four touchdowns.

Best Defensive Player - Aaron Maybin, DE Penn State
Texas DE Brian Orakpo could easily be the choice, but with all the injuries, suspensions, and drama happening on the Penn State defensive front, the emergence of speed rusher Aaron Maybin has been one of the keys to the season. He's been a steady, consistent playmaker spreading out his nine sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss, while he's fifth on the team with 29 tackles including 20 solo stops.

Best Coach: Tim Brewster, Minnesota
Do you remember just how bad Minnesota was last year? It went 1-11 with the one win coming in overtime over Miami University. The defense was last in America, allowing 519 yards per game, generated just 11 sacks, and was 114th in the nation in turnover margin. Was Brewster really the coach to have around for next year when the new stadium opens? This year, so far, Minnesota is allowing almost 150 fewer yards per game, has generated 17 sacks, and is second in the nation in turnover margin.

He set the tone for this season by going for it on a key fourth down play in the opener against Northern Illinois, it worked, and the Gophers won the type of game they wouldn't have come up with last year. After the road win over Illinois, Minnesota is now bowl eligible with three home games and a winnable road game against Purdue left to go. Even if the Gophers lose their final five games, this has been a phenomenal makeover.

Biggest Surprise: The smart teams
It's always a good thing for college, with an emphasis on college, football when the smart guys are good on the football field, too. Stanford's early win over Oregon State was a stunner, while Vanderbilt and Northwestern should be even more shocking with almost certain bowl bids. Duke is having its best season in years, while Rice has improved and could be in the mix for a bowl appearance.

Biggest Disappointment: Ohio State vs. USC
This is the type of game I wait all off-season for. It not only stunk, it really stunk. Fine, it was a blowout, but at least it appeared to be a tone-setter for a USC team that seemed ready to show it's the real deal, and then that flew out the window with a loss to Oregon State the following week. In the be-careful-what-you-wish-for department, these two might meet again in the Rose Bowl.

Richard Cirminiello      

Q: Midseason Stuff: Best Offensive Player, Defensive Player, Coach, Surprise and Disappointment.

A: Best Offensive Player...Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford. Short of playing defense in Dallas last week, he’s done all he can to make the Sooners a national championship contender. In three games with quality defenses, Cincinnati, TCU, and Texas, he threw 14 touchdown passes. Top that.

Best Defensive Player...Pittsburgh LB Scott McKillop. One of the nation’s most instinctive linebackers, McKillop has outstanding range and a knack for constantly being near the ball. In the Panthers’ program-defining upset of South Florida, he had 12 solo tackles, three tackles for loss, and a pair of sacks. 

Best Coach...Alabama’s Nick Saban. C’mon, even the biggest optimist didn’t think the Tide would be contending for a national championship this early in Saban’s tenure. He’s pushed all the right buttons in a 6-0 start, and has quickly turned a good collection of players into a very good defense.

Biggest Surprise... Penn State. Hey, when I first heard the Lions were moving to a spread offense, I never could have imagined it’d look this good. Darryl Clark has been brilliant, distributing the ball to a deep collection of skill position talent. Not only has Penn State gotten to 7-0 without its best defensive player, but it only has one true landmine left on the schedule.

Biggest Disappointment...Clemson. I’ll admit that I got sucked in this time. All of that returning talent has only been able to produce three wins to go along with losses to Alabama, Maryland, and Wake Forest. Two months after being ranked No. 9 in the preseason, the Tigers are without a head coach or an ounce of credibility on a national level.

Matthew Zemek

Q: Midseason Stuff: Best Offensive Player, Defensive Player, Coach, Surprise and Disappointment.

A: Best Offensive Player - BCS Conference edition: Colt McCoy, Texas. He has to be better than Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel at this point (before the Texas-Missouri game, at least). High-profile skill players at Florida and Georgia have been inconsistent. Beanie Wells has been injured; same for Pat White. Javon Ringer merits mention, but he hasn't tackled Ohio State yet (again, that's coming up this Saturday).

Non-BCS Conference edition: David Johnson, Tulsa. The successor to Paul Smith has been quite successful under coach Todd Graham, as the Golden Hurricane--to the surprise of some--haven't missed a beat in 2008. Johnson is throwing for over 16 yards per completion, and more than 11 yards per attempt, while compiling a TD-INT ratio of nearly 4:1. His pass efficiency rating? Over 200 (204.4). Completion percentage? 68 (rounded up from 67.6). Makes you want to see Tulsa play BYU or Boise State in a non-BCS showdown, doesn't it?

Defensive Player: Brandon Spikes, Florida. Tellingly, the linebacker excelled even in the Gators' loss to Ole Miss. On a day when most of his teammates were flat, No. 51 brought his A-game to the ballpark. Spikes has been flying across the field and making an impact in every phase of the art of defense.

Coach: Multiple awards (in terms of one school) aren't allowed, so put Tim Brewster of Minnesota here and...

Surprise: ... Put Mike Gundy's Oklahoma State team here. Bobby Johnson and Vanderbilt contended for the "coach" and "surprise" spots, respectively, but Johnson's poor performance against Mississippi State--combined with the Dores' loss in Starkville--eliminated VU on both counts. Right now, the Sons of Stillwater have made the biggest splash in the United States. 

Disappointment: Unless you're trying to be funny, or you have a unique angle with a very specific and narrow explanation, saying anything other than CLEMSON here would merit a government investigation.

Steve Silverman

Q: Midseason Stuff: Best Offensive Player, Defensive Player, Coach, Surprise and Disappointment.

A: Best Offensive Player:
QB Colt McCoy, Texas -- His numbers are superb and he has passed every test with ease. How do you argue with someone who beat Oklahoma and has completed 79.4 percent of his passes with a 17-to-3 TD-to-interception ratio?
Best Defensive Player
DE Paul Kruger, Utah -- You don't have to be a Mountain West enthusiast to appreciate Kruger. He has 5.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss and lives in the opponent's backfield. He's been a monster defensive player for the Utes
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State-- He's 41 and he's a man. And he's just a damn good football coach who beat great Missouri team in the Tigers' backyard. Don't underestimate him or his team.
Minnesota: This is easy. The Gophers were 1-11 in 2007 under rookie coach Tim Brewster. After last week's win over Illinois, Brewster has his team sitting at a robust 6-1. The Gophers are relaxed and physical and no longer makes mistakes.
Michigan: Don't tell me about a new system and a new coach. This team is God-awful and I don't believe the Wolverines would have been anywhere near as bad had Lloyd Carr remained head coach. Rich Rodriguez is a fine coach but he is not the right leader for the Wolverines.