Hits and Misses of Kirk Herbstreit's 2013 'Herbie Awards'
Another day closer to the kickoff of the college football season, another analyst releasing predictions on how the season will play out. This time it's ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit, who took the time to announce his 13th annual Herbie Awards.
Herbstreit also revealed everything from his All-Conference team to his national championship prediction. As usual, there are some predictions that many would agree with and then a few where he missed the mark and should be corrected.
That player wasn't mentioned on the All-Herbie Team? You've got to be kidding me!
Well, at least Herbstreit did get his national championship prediction correct.
Note: The predictions are near the bottom of the ESPN article. The polls were voted on by fans and are not the views of Herbstreit. Also, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was excluded from participation due to an ongoing NCAA investigation.
Miss: Stephon Tuitt, DL, Notre Dame
Herbstreit's DL Picks: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina; Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas; Will Sutton, Arizona State; Anthony Johnson, LSU
Notre Dame's Stephon Tuitt is one of the best defensive ends in the country, second only to Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina. He was a crucial piece of Notre Dame's success last season, leading the team with 11 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. He also returned a fumble 77 yards for a touchdown and added 45 tackles.
Tuitt has a quick first step and fires off the ball. He's extremely athletic at 6'6", 303 pounds and could be selected in the first round of next year's NFL draft. He will now be the leader of the Notre Dame defense and is expected to take his game to another level his junior season.
Who Should Have Been Replaced: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas (He missed seven games last season with a pectoral injury.)
Hit: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Herbstreit's WR Picks: Marqise Lee, USC; Amari Cooper, Alabama; Stefon Diggs, Maryland
It's not very often that the best player at a position in college football can be pinpointed without any doubt. However, Marqise Lee will be the best wide receiver until he decides to take his talents to the NFL.
In just two seasons, Lee has 191 receptions for 2,864 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns. He led the country last season with 118 receptions, finished second with 1,721 receiving yards and ranked third with 14 touchdowns.
Lee is nearly impossible to defend one-on-one, and he routinely beats two defenders. He has impressive leaping ability, sure hands and is dangerous in the open field. He's without question the top player at his position and is sure to be a top-10 pick in next year's NFL draft.
Miss: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Herbstreit's QB Pick: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
If Ohio State wasn't banned from participating in a bowl game last season, Braxton Miller would have likely received an invite to New York for the Heisman ceremony. Instead, his numbers and accomplishments were downplayed due to his team not being eligible to compete for the crystal football.
Miller threw for 2,039 yards, rushed for 1,271 yards and scored 28 touchdowns last season. He also improved his completion percentage from 54.1 percent his freshman season to 58.3 percent. He often had to carry the Buckeyes on his back, which helped lead to an undefeated regular season.
The junior quarterback is going to be scary with a second season under head coach Urban Meyer.
Who Should Have Been Replaced: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville (Best NFL prospect? Probably. But Miller has accomplished more in his career and should be considered the favorite for the Heisman.)
Hit: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Herbstreit's RB Picks: Todd Gurley, Georgia; T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
Todd Gurley is a lot like former Georgia running back and 1982 Heisman winner Herschel Walker. He's bigger, faster and stronger than everybody else. As a freshman last year, Gurley rushed for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score.
Gurley is 6'1", 232 pounds and is the complete package at his position. He's fast enough to blow by a defender, or he can lower his shoulder and run the defender over to help his team move the chains. He also has good hands, as he hauled in 16 receptions for 117 yards.
It's not very often when an underclassman can carry the title as the best running back. Gurley is a special player.
Miss: Ty Zimmerman, S, Kansas State
Herbstreit's S Picks: Ed Reynolds, Stanford; Hakeem Smith, Louisville
Maybe quarterback Collin Klein stole too much of the spotlight from the Kansas State defense. The Wildcats didn't qualify for the BCS Fiesta Bowl simply off of their dual-threat signal-caller; a third-ranked Big 12 defense also did its job to help secure 11 victories.
Safety Ty Zimmerman was one of the key players for Kansas State and has been since his freshman season. He finished last year with 50 tackles, five interceptions and three tackles for loss. He has a knack for making the big play, as he now has 10 interceptions in his career.
Zimmerman is Kansas State's lone returning defensive starter, but he is sure to keep his reputation as the one of the nation's top safeties.
Who Should Have Been Replaced: Hakeem Smith, Louisville (Both great players, but Zimmerman is a difference-maker who can change the game with one play.)
Hit: Alabama to Win It All
Herbstreit's National Championship Pick: Alabama over Ohio State
Is anybody seriously picking against Alabama to win the national championship? Of course, there will always be a few people who want to be different, but even those guys can't pick against the Tide with a straight face.
Alabama has a veteran quarterback in AJ McCarron, an elite running back in T.J. Yeldon, a star wide receiver in Amari Cooper and a solid offensive line. Defensively, linebackers C.J. Mosley and Trey DePriest, cornerback Deion Blue and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are just some of the players who have a bright future in the NFL.
Oh, and there's also some head coach named Nick Saban who has already won four national championships.
It would be shocking if Alabama didn't win a third straight title.
Miss: No Mention of Arizona State
Herbstreit's Pac-12 Picks: Stanford over USC in the Pac-12 Championship; Oregon State as the sleeper
Arizona State was hardly mentioned in the preseason polls, and now it can't even get any love as a sleeper team in the Pac-12.
Talk about disrespect.
The Sun Devils can score with any team in the conference after averaging 38.4 points per game last season. Quarterback Taylor Kelly completed 67.1 percent of his passes, and Marion Grice is easily one of the most underrated running backs in the country. Tight end Chris Coyle also quietly caught 57 passes for 696 yards and five touchdowns.
But the thing that stands out the most is the defense. The Sun Devils racked up 51 sacks and have terrific sack artists returning in defensive lineman Will Sutton and linebacker Carl Bradford. The secondary is in good hands as well with Alden Darby and Robert Nelson, as the defensive backfield intercepted 21 passes.
Don't be one to jump on the Sun Devils bandwagon toward the end of the season; they're a real threat to win the conference.
Who Should Have Been Replaced: Arizona State should replace USC in the Pac-12 Championship. How can anyone seriously trust USC after last season? Now there's questions at quarterback and in the secondary. There's also depth issues at wide receiver. Arizona State is clearly the more balanced team in the Pac-12 South.
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