Wednesday, November 26, 2014

B1G Finalists for Post Season Awards

While the B1G as a whole continues to have a bit of a down perception, there is no denying that there is still a good deal of individual talent scattered throughout the league. As finalists lists for a variety of awards continue to trickle out, below, I post the B1G players up for the award, and some brief thoughts on the player.
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Maxwell Award (College Player of the Year)
Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin)
Marcus Mariota (Oregon)
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

Thoughts:
It'll be difficult for Gordon to beat out Mariota, as QBs in football continue to get most of the praise (and blame) for each teams successes and failures. And to Mariota's credit, he's having a good year as well.

As for Gordon, there are still some areas where I'd like to see improvement from him, namely, in his comfort in the pass game and as a short yardage ball carrier. Still, I feel there are some misconceptions about Gordon out there: he isn't just an off-tackle runner. Where Gordon has excelled is with his phenomenal burst, great patience and vision getting through the LOS and through the 2nd level, and his impeccable balance in the open field. But he also knows when to dip a shoulder to get a few more yards, he knows when and how to get his pads low and punish tacklers, and while he's still not great at moving piles consistently, he's shown the mentality necessary to keep on improving on one of the few non-strengths of his game. Gordon absolutely deserves to be on this list, as a player that makes the rest of the players around him better and as a great individual player as well.

Chuck Bednarik Award (College Defensive Player of the Year)
Joey Bosa (OSU)
Vic Beasley (Clemson)
Scooby Wright III (Arizona)

Thoughts:
My feeling is that this one goes to Wright, a guy putting up crazy numbers in the Arizona 3-3-5 blitz heavy scheme (127 tackles, 23 TFL, 12 Sacks). But both Beasley and Bosa are on here not just because of the stats they put up, but the impact they have on the players around them. Being a Soph probably doesn't help Bosa in this instance, either.

Bosa is a good athlete, he's an even better technician. He gets compared to J.J. Watt a lot, mostly because, like Watt, he happens to be a large, white male that plays football, but also because there are real comparisons. The way Bosa uses his hands - violently - is something that makes it almost impossible to run at him and leave him single-blocked. And the consequences teams have seen when attempting to mitigate his impact has seen the impact of those around him improve. Bosa has one year of college football left, he's already a guy that can play SDE or WDE. His inside move is where he has most of his success. Where I want to see a little more improvement from him is with the first step of his speed rush and to keep adding to his functional strength to bull OL even more in the run game. He's already very good at getting off tackles, now lets round him into a player that also is even in better position to make plays that go away from him.

Doak Walker Award (Nation's Premier RB)
Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska)
Tevin Coleman (Indiana)
Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin)

Thoughts:
This one is Gordon's to lose, and rightfully so. He's putting up crazy numbers, and his team is looking successful (for what that's worth). I've given my Gordon thoughts above.

I've been a huge Abdullah fan this entire year. His ability to make the first man miss is the best I've seen in the B1G since Mike Hart. He has such good feet in the hole and keeps his feet moving after contact. He's a guy, that in the right scheme, will certainly make an impact at the next level. While his breakaway speed isn't great, and he isn't the strongest runner, he is plus in both areas.

Coleman was a guy coming into the season that I thought had an opportunity to work his way onto draft boards. He proved me wrong and solidified himself on draft boards. A guy that could have seriously resigned himself when his starting QB went down, he continued to churn out yards left and right. His combination of speed in the open field and power to pick up yards has been extremely impressive this year. On his way to breaking 2000 yards rushing, I'd like to see him continue to improve his ability to pick his way through congestion and become an even bigger part of the pass game. I think he has that ability.

 Outland Trophy (Nation's Most Outstanding Interior Lineman)
Brandon Scherff (Iowa)
Malcom Brown (Texas)
Reese Dismukes (Auburn)

My guess here is just that, a guess, but if I had to pick a winner, it would probably be Dismukes. I think both Brown (DT) and Scherff will be hurt by the talent that surrounds them a bit; and, frankly, Dismukes is also a really good player.

As for Scherff, he may be a guy that ultimately ends up inside at the next level, but I think is skilled enough to play OT. But his ability ultimately allows for that sort of flexibility. His greatest strengths are his hand placement and ability to move his feet and get functional strength into his drive. In a zone scheme, he is phenomenal at getting movement out of defensive players. He isn't forced to show a lot in pass pro because of the guys he goes up against and Iowa's offensive scheme, but I certainly think he has the potential to be strong in that category as well.

Lou Groza Award (Nation's Outstanding Placekicker)
Brad Craddock (Maryland)
Roberto Aguayo (FSU)
Josh Lambert (West Virginia)

Thoughts:
Aguayo won this last year, and now he's 21-23 with a long of 53; his misses were both from 40-49, while he's 3-3 from 50+. Meanwhile, Craddock is 17-17 with a long of 57, and is 9-9 from 40-49. People don't understand kickers, which gives Aguayo and his undefeated FSU squad a chance, but I think Craddock wins this one.

Craddock is a guy that has the ball placed in front of him, and he approach the ball, and then he proceeds to kick the ball through the uprights at a very high rate. This approach has been successful for him this year. What did you expect me to say? In all honesty, Craddock does have a bit different approach as most kickers at this level (his follow through is a bit more straight on than most football kickers, more like a soccer players follow through). But he makes field goals, and that's what counts for three points.

Butkus Award (Nation's Best LB)
Jake Ryan (Michigan)
Eric Kendricks (UCLA)
Hau'oli Kikaha (Washington)
Denzel Perryman (Miami, FL)
Jaylon Smith (Notre Dame)

Thoughts:
It's almost certainly going to Kendricks, who has posted 124 tackles, 7 TFL, 2 Sacks, 3 INT, 2 PBUs, and a FF. Kikaha is a rush LB that has managed to post 23.5 TFL and 17.5 Sacks. Perryman has been a physical presence all year on the inside, Smith showed flashes of his potential early, and Ryan is a guy that has rounded into form after a rough transition to start the year.

Jake Ryan is a guy that many Michigan fans were down on after some early season struggles with the transition to inside LB and how to successfully go about run fits and to a lesser extent, pass drops. But he has improved quickly over the course of the year, and now better understands how to get through the wash, how to pop a lead blocker, and how to shed them to make tackles. His downhill burst is still on display as he's wracked up TFL this season, and he has continued to be more fluid in his pass drops and understanding of the coverage schemes. Probably has more upside as a 3-4 OLB at the next level, his flexibility (similar to Green Bay's Clay Matthews) has to make pro scouts excited about his prospects, as he's proven to be a guy you can move around, bring off the edge, bring through the interior, and leave on the field on all three downs and maintain a lot of flexibility within the defense. He's improved from a good ILB to a great one over the course of the year, and while he still gets out of position at times when instincts take him away from the play, he is as good as any LB in the B1G, and that's why he's on this list.

Lombardi Award (Best Lineman/Linebacker)
Joey Bosa (OSU)
Vic Beasley (Clemson)
Hau'oli Kikaha (Washington)
Scooby Wright III (Arizona)

Awards Without B1G Representation
Davey O'Brien Award (Nation's Best QB); Ray Guy Award (College Punter of the Year); Bronko Nagurski Award (Best Defensive Player); Rimington Trophy (Best Center, Not Yet Announced); Fred Biletnikoff Award (Best WR); Jim Thorpe Award (Best DB); Lott Trophy (Best Defensive Player; Not Yet Announced); Manning Award (Best QB; Not Yet Announced); Ted Hendricks Award (Best DE; Not Yet Announced)

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