Thursday, October 16, 2008

Between the Hashes: Mid-Season Report

Offensive MVP: Colt McCoy, QB, Texas: This was a toss up before last Saturday, but with McCoy beating Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford head-to-head and Chase Daniels’ three second half interceptions in Mizzou’s loss, the Longhorn signal caller is the clear cut choice. McCoy has thrown for 1,557 yards and 17 touch-downs (three interceptions), putting him on pace for 32 touchdowns and only six interceptions for the season (22-18 in 2007). The junior is completing passes at an impressive 79.4 percent clip, while at the same time averaging a career best 9.44 yards per pass attempt. Not only is he leading the ‘Horns in passing, but he is their top rusher as well with 348 yards. McCoy is averaging 5.9 yards per carry and has scored four times on the ground. Of course the most impressive stat is No. 1 in the country, which is where the 6-0 Longhorns sit in both polls.

Defensive MVP: Terrence Cody: The juniors’ numbers don’t pop out by any means—15 tackles, 3.5 tackles or a loss, no sacks and one forced fumble. But a nose tackle is never measured by individual statistics—the entire defense’s production is what counts. The Crimson Tide are fourth in the SEC in scoring defense, allowing just 13.5 points per game (12th in the nation). They are second in total defense (10th overall) and where a stout nose man can make the biggest differ-ence, run defense, Nick Saban’s boys lead the SEC and are second in the country. In Coach Saban’s 3-4 defense, the nose man is the most important position, needing to be a force against the run while constantly occupying double teams, which is exactly what Cody does. The 365-pound junior college transfer represents an increase of about 80 pounds from last season at the nose. But make no mistake, this man in the middle isn’t only about girth—he can move. The Florida native has quickness and agility that belies his size, allowing him to penetrate the line of scrimmage to make plays himself or at least disrupt the play enough to allow his teammates to clean up. Without the addition of Cody, it is doubtful the Tide would have made the quantum leap so fast (No. 2 in the country after going 7-6 last season).

Best Question: Who is the top quarterback in the Big 12? Right now the answer is Colt McCoy, but in 48 hours that could change as Chase Daniel (2,055 yards, 16 touchdowns) gets a chance at a reprieve when the Texas native leads his Missouri Tigers into Austin to take on No. 1 Texas. What if Daniel outperforms McCoy? It’s back to the drawing board. In another North-South clash in the Big 12, Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford looks to “bounce back” from his five-touchdown perfor-mance in Dallas, against KU’s Todd Reesing (1,980 yards, 15 touchdowns), who has led the Jayhawks to a 17-2 record since the start of last season. Then there is duel threat Zac Robinson (1,250 yards, 12 touchdowns), whose Pokes upset Missouri last week, propelling Oklahoma St. into the top ten. Baylor’s freshman quarterback Robert Griffin (1,109 yards, nine touch-downs) is the conference’s most dangerous runner at the position, while Kansas St.’s 6’6” Josh Freeman (1,509 yards, 12 touchdowns) could be the best prospect of the bunch. Oops, almost forgot Graham Harrell (2,311 yards, 20 touchdowns) of Texas Tech, who has 109 scoring strikes in his career.

Best Answer: No, last season was not a fluke:
Touted as a season for the ages, 2007 appears to have been simply a harbinger, which is a good thing. Two weeks ago nine ranked teams fell and last week the only top-four team who didn’t lose was Alabama—they didn’t play. Go ahead tell me who’s going to win this week—I double dare you.

Photo Credit: OU Athletics Department & University of Texas Athletics