As we hover around the midway point of the 2009 College Football season, it's time to pause and reflect on the first half and figure out what we've learned...
Not a whole lot, actually. Compared to how I saw things shaping up this season (see 2009 Preview ) the Pac-10 has the usual suspects up top (USC and Oregon) and the perennial cellar dwellers near or at the bottom (WSU).
There were a few surprises early (Washington over USC and UCLA over Tennessee come to mind), as well as a surprise right hook in Boise that left the Ducks wondering what would become of their 2009 season.
And that is precisely the reason why, at the halfway point at least, the Pac-10 Coach of the Year is Oregon's Chip Kelly. Since that fateful blow was struck on the blue turf, Kelly has led his Ducks to five straight wins, including ending the nation's longest winning streak by beating Utah, a 42-3 shellacking of then No. 6 Cal, and an impressive road victory in the Rose Bowl, 24-10 over UCLA.
With that, the midseason players of the year...
Offense: Toby Gerhart (Stanford) Has rushed for 869 yards (which leads the conference) and 12 TDs in leading a resurgent Cardinal team. Can they keep it up?
Defense: Taylor Mays (USC) We all saw what happened with him out of the lineup in Seattle. He does it all for the Trojans.
Freshman: LaMichael James (Oregon) Has filled in exceptionally for the departed LeGarrette Blount, going over 100 yards three times in leading the Ducks to five straight wins. This season's Jacquizz Rodgers?
Midseason All Pac-10 (First Team in Bold)
QB - Locker (UW); Barkley (USC)
RB - Gerhart (Stanford), Rodgers (OSU); James (Oregon), Best (California)
WR - Rodgers (OSU), Whalen (Stanford); Williams, D. (USC), Williams, K. (ASU)
TE - Dickson (Oregon); McCoy (USC)
OL - O'Dowd (USC), Byers (USC), Marinelli (Stanford), Kaiser (Oregon), Ossai (UW); Baxter (Arizona), Peat (OSU), Tepper (Cal), Parsons (USC), Holmes (Oregon)
DL - Price (UCLA), Griffen (USC), Te'O-Nesheim (UW), Rowe (Oregon); Alualu (California), Perry (USC), Tukuafu (Oregon), Casey (USC)
LB - Kristick (OSU), Carter (UCLA), Galippo (USC); Mohammed (California), Snyder (Stanford), Butler (UW)
DB - Mays (USC), Verner (UCLA), Thompson (California), Lewis (Oregon); Moore (UCLA), Ross (Arizona), Boyett (Oregon), McNally (Stanford)
KR - Owusu (Stanford); Austin (UCLA)
PR - Williams, D. (USC); Austin (UCLA)
K - Forbath (UCLA); Flint (Oregon)
P - Locke (UCLA); Hankins (ASU)
Don't expect to see this actual group of players when the honors are passed out (prematurely) this December. (Still not sure why they don't wait until the season is actually over to vote on these, but that's just me—the guy handing them out in mid-October.)
Do expect to see someone emerge as a true offensive player of the year (no offense Toby) as the second half unfolds—perhaps in the Halloween showdown at Autzen.
Or perhaps Quizz Rodgers makes his case for a repeat honor in his first Civil War appearance. Stay tuned...