In the time between the end of the season (yes, I know Army/Navy is this weekend) and the beginning of the season it's time for Awards! ESPN and Home Depot put forth their College Football Award Show on Thursday. Also on Thursday I hosted the Bloguin College Football Awards over on Crystal Ball Run. Pete and I represented CFBZ in the voting but we also had bloggers from the following sites: Aaron Torres Sports, The Belly of the Beast, Blatant Homerism, Checkerboard Chatter, Eye and Eer, In The Bleachers, Lambeth Field, Leftover Hot Dog, Optimum Scouting, Saturday Night Slant, The Duck Stops Here, The North End Zone, The Subway Domer, and Unconquered Noles.
We voted on eight different categories and gave our top three for each category. Here is how Pete and I voted on the Awards. Make sure you visit Crystal Ball Run to check out the cumulative votes from the Bloguin bloggers and feel free to chime in down in the comments section with who you would have voted for:
COACH OF THE YEAR:
Pete: Les Miles, LSU: Giving this award to Les Miles is not automatic. After all, LSU has a winning reputation. Despite all the 2011 bumps in the road, the Tigers have an unblemished record. When you’re at the top, you always have a target on your back. Every opponent steps up its game to knock off number one. Miles has kept them focused and prepared for each opponent.
Kevin: Hugh Freeze, Arkansas State: I profiled Freeze earlier this year when I called Arkansas State one of the most surprising Non-AQ teams at the mid-way point. After I wrote that article, the Red Wolves went undefeated and grabbed a Sun Belt Championship. This is school that had not won more than six games since 1987. I think it's safe to say that Freeze is more than a deserving candidate for this award.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Pete: Montee Ball, Wisconsin: Wisconsin tailback Monte Ball has found paydirt this season more often than anyone since Barry Sanders at Oklahoma State in 1988. With an accomplished quarterback in Russell Wilson, he is not exclusively center of the Badger’s offense, but he has made the most of his chances.
Kevin: Robert Griffin III, Baylor: Seasons are defined by players. In the recent past we've had players like Reggie Bush, Tim Tebow and Cam Newton that defined seasons. This year the season was most closely defined by RG3. On a Friday night in early September we watched as RG3 and TCU shocked and amazed us with their offense. Toward the end of the year Griffin gave us a "Heisman Moment" when he stuck a dagger in the Oklahoma Sooners with a 40 yard dart to shock the world. Robert Griffin III is the Offensive Player of the Year.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Pete: Luke Kuechly, Boston College: If the Boston College Eagles had one bright spot this fall, it was the play of linebacker Luke Kuechly. He led the nation with 191 tackles and holds the all-time record for the ACC with 532. Playing for a 4-8 team, it’s easy to lose focus or incentive, but Kuechly remained focused throughout the disappointing schedule.
Kevin: Tyrann Mathieu, LSU: This season was absent of an absolutely dominant defensive player like a Suh or a Fairley. My vote goes to the Honey Badger because of the impact he had on the field. He forced six fumbles, he returned two of them for TDs and he was generally a menace on the field. He's set himself up nicely as a Heisman favorite for next season.
COORDINATOR OF THE YEAR:
Pete: John Chavis, LSU: The biggest reason for LSU’s success has been its defense. John Chavis has put together a dynamic unit to frustrate every opposing team on the schedule.
Kevin: John Chavis, LSU: It's one thing to have great talent and it's another to make sure they are lined up in the right position on every play, kept motivated and put in places to make plays. Chavis did a phenomenal job this year of managing the LSU defense.
GAME OF THE YEAR:
Pete: Baylor 45, Oklahoma 38, Waco, Nov. 19
Kevin: Wisconsin vs Michigan State (Oct 22)- Two times this game looked like it could get sideways in the favor of either team. Wisconsin jumped out to a 14-0 lead and looked like it might run Sparty out of it's own building. Kirk Cousins and Michigan State then answered with 23 straight points to take a 9 point lead into the locker room. Down 2 TDs Russell Wilson led his Badgers back with two late scoring drives and hit Montee Ball with a TD pass with just a buck and some change left on the clock. But Sparty was not to be denied. Not only did Kirk Cousins hit a Hail Mary. He hit one that was deflected and the receiver caught it out of the end zone and had to struggle to get in for the winning score with no time left on the clock. This game is what college football is all about.
FRESHMAN PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Pete: Sammy Watkins, Clemson: Watkins was, at midpoint of the season, one of the Heisman contenders. His average was near a 100 yards and one TD per game. He was fun to watch and easily a big part of Clemson’s success in 2011.
Kevin: Sammy Watkins, Clemson: One of the other bloggers called this one a "no brainer" and I have to agree. Watkins defined the Clemson team this year and they came and went as he did.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Pete: Case Keenum, Houston: Keenum suffered a season-ending injury early last year, but a special exemption from the NCAA allowed him another year of eligibility. His performance had his team undefeated and Keenum himself in the Heisman chase until the C-USA championship game loss to Southern Miss.
Kevin: Jarvis Jones, Georgia: It was really close between Jones and Case Keenum of Houston for this award. But Keenum wasn't told he might never play football again due to his injury last year. In addition to being injured on the field as a freshman mid-way through the 2009 season, Jones also transferred schools and had to learn an entire new offense. As the season went on, Jones gained more comfort with his role and after he got his feet under him became a menace to opposing defenses. On more than one occassion he secured victories by sacking the QB on the last play of the game. Jones finished the season second in the Nation and first in the SEC with 13.5 sacks, and that's after he didn't post a sack in the first five games of the year. He was also tied for fifth in the Nation with 19.5 tackles for loss. He had himself a year.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Kevin: Connor Shaw, South Carolina: If Alec Ogletree would not have gotten injured against Boise State and missed the first half of the season I think he would have won this award hands down (at least on my homeristic ballot). But I have to go to a rival SEC school for this one. I made my share of Connor Shaw jokes this year but he showed a lot of growth from when he first took over to Stephan Garcia to when he throttled Clemson. If he plays next season like he did against Clemson then the rest of the SEC had better watch out.