We're only one week away from 2009 media days! That means football is inching ever so closer to the September 3 kickoff.
The Mountain West Conference is one of the few leagues to keep media days alive, and besides, who doesn't love the cattle call of players and coaches being interviewed by the local media.
This is when the big awards and preseason media poll is put out, and with that happening July 21 and 22, I will make my predictions for offensive and defensive player of the year and the preseason predictions.
With the team predictions, readers will have to wait for another month for in-depth previews, and it is possible the order will change if there are any injuries in camp. As with the players of the year, a top three list will be there and in order.
Offensive Player of the Year
1. Max Hall, QB, BYU
Pretty obvious choice to put Hall in the top three, but the winner most likely will come down to the quarterback of the champ; well unless someone like Air Force’s Chad Hall from 2007 who put up monster numbers and won the award.
2. Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
Ditto for Dalton here, he may not put up huge numbers like Max Hall but he may put up numbers more along the lines of 2008 MWC offensive POY in Utah’s Brian Johnson just as long as TCU wins the league.
Dalton is athletic enough to get some rushing yards, but he needs to stay healthy to lead the team to a league title.
3. Omar Clayton, QB, UNLV
People may call me crazy but Clayton may be the dark-horse here. Last year, in nine games, he did quite well and did a great job in almost leading his team past BYU. He did have three games over 250 yards passing, a 9/2 touchdown to interception ratio.
Clayton was not asked to run a lot last year, but with running back Frank Summers gone to the NFL Clayton may need to run more.
Defensive Player of the Year:
1. Jerry Hughes, DE TCU
Last year he had 15 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, and two picks. It might be hard to reproduce, but he is the best defensive player in the league is the favorite.
2. Robert Johnson, DB Utah
Johnson has a knack for fighting the ball and making defensive plays. Last year he had four interceptions, three passes broken up, and then had 41 tackles with eight for a loss
3.Stevenson Sylvester, LB Utah
The last image of of Sylvester is his three sacks in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. Even beyond that Sylvester was making plays all year. He had 73 tackles, eight for a loss, and 3.5 sacks; he will be a player that opposing coaches game plan for in 2009.
Order of Finish
Again, not too much detail will be given on each team until late August, where I may or may not change this order.
1. TCU: Their offense finally has moved closer to the defense, and that is what puts them over the edge.
2. Utah: Defense is the reason Utah is here, and if they get a stable quarterback play they should finish right here.
3. BYU: Defense is why BYU is here, mainly their secondary that was exposed last year. The offense should be fine, and possible could be even great if the coaches are not predictable like last year.
4. UNLV: The Rebels are my extreme dark horse to win the title. They have the quarterback play with Omar Clayton and the receiver in Ryan Wolfe, but a running back and a better defense needs to step up.
5. Air Force: If the Falcons can find a quarterback they should be OK. Currently Tim Jefferson is working on academic issues, and Asher Clark is recovering from an injury and is switching to quarterback from running back.
6. Colorado State: The Rams are replacing a quarterback, top two running backs, tight end, plus their top two linebackers are not playing in 2009. The good news is that their offensive line returns and they will be the strength of the team.
7. San Diego State: They have the quarterback in Ryan Lindley, but they need to avoid the injury bug and show up on defense to improve.
8. New Mexico: This could be low because Rocky Long did not leave the cupboard bare, but it always seems that the Lobos never meet their potential.
9. Wyoming: The spread offense that Dave Christenson is bring over from Missouri will take time to gel in Laramie. The defense should help them keep games close, but unless the offense learns the system it will be a long year.