Hits and Misses of Top 2014 College Football Award Winners
The playoff field is set, and college football's individual awards have been handed out. Only the prestigious Heisman Trophy remains.
And that's Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota's award to lose. There's been zero buzz about it this season, too.
Mariota, along with Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III, swept up on awards night. From the Walter Camp Award to the Bednarik Award, the Pac-12 was well-represented.
What were some of the highlights from the awards ceremony? The answers are in the following slides.
Hit: Home Depot Award
Category: Coach of the Year
Winner: Garry Patterson, TCU
Ohio State's Urban Meyer had a case having won 12 games with, technically, two backup quarterbacks. Justin Fuente at Memphis deserves a lot of consideration as well. Still, how do you overlook Gary Patterson at TCU?
The answer is that you don't.
Patterson transformed a team that went 4-8 a year ago into one that was on the cusp of inclusion in the first College Football Playoff. The Frogs went 11-1 this season—the only loss being by three points on the road at Baylor—and finished with a share of the Big 12 championship.
It's not just the turnaround, though—it's how Patterson did it. A defensive guy, Patterson made perhaps the best hires in the past year by bringing in Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie as co-offensive coordinators to spark a stale offense.
The results worked. TCU finished second nationally with 46.8 points per game—three full touchdowns more than a year ago. Making great hires is part of a coach's responsibility. Patterson did a great job turning TCU into a legit Big 12 title contender.
Miss: Outland Trophy
Category: Best Interior Lineman
Winner: Brandon Scherff, Iowa
Scherff has had a decorated season, winning the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year award and being selected as a first-team All-Big Ten player. Winning the Outland Trophy only adds to that.
But how about some more recognition for Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown? The junior led Texas' defense with 12.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. That doesn't register nationally, but Brown's job isn't to be a speedy edge-rusher. It's to be a mismatch in the interior of the line and occupy focus.
For Brown to lead a talented defense in sacks and tackles for loss while doing that is impressive. He was a first-team All-Big 12 selection but not the conference's Defensive Player of the Year (that went to TCU linebacker Paul Dawson). That could be seen as a snub as well.
Hit: Groza Award
Category: Best Kicker
Winner: Brad Craddock, Maryland
Sure, we're just talking about kickers, but this was an instance when voters got it right based on stats and percentages and not necessarily on name recognition. There's something to be said for that, especially for an award that doesn't garner a ton of attention.
Florida State's Roberto Aguayo won the Groza a year ago and, realistically, is probably is the best kicker in college football. That said, Maryland's Brad Craddock went 18-of-19 on field-goal attempts. According to Todd Jones of The Columbus Dispatch, Craddock's 57-yard field goal against Ohio State on Oct. 4 was a school record.
Aguayo's season still shouldn't be overlooked, though, as he was 25-of-27 on the year.
Hit: Biletnikoff Award
Category: Best Wide Receiver
Winner: Amari Cooper
There isn't a wide receiver in the country who changes the game like Amari Cooper from Alabama. It wasn't much of a surprise when Cooper became the first Tide player to win the Biletnikoff Award.
His numbers stand on their own: 115 receptions for 1,656 yards, both of which lead the nation. His 14 touchdowns and 127.4 yards per game rank second in the country.
Cooper is a Heisman finalist, and rightfully so. If you take away the trend of giving the award to quarterbacks, there's a case to be made that Cooper affects the game when it comes to his number of touches and how opposing defenses prepare for him.
Miss: Mackey Award
Category: Outstanding Tight End
Winner: Nick O'Leary, Florida State
As far as receiving stats go, Florida State tight end Nick O'Leary had a great year: 47 catches for 614 yards and seven touchdowns. He also has arguably the best quarterback in the country—the Davey O’Brien finalist list be damned—in Jameis Winston throwing to him.
Miami tight end Clive Walford also has a good quarterback getting him the ball, Brad Kaaya, but Kaaya is still a freshman and nowhere near the level of Winston just yet. Still, Walford had 44 catches for 676 yards—an average of 15.36 yards per catch—and seven touchdowns.
Minnesota's Maxx Williams even had a case as the most complete tight end in the country, though his receiving numbers aren't as great.
Hit: O'Brien Award
Category: Best Quarterback
Winner: Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota cleaned up on awards night. Barring an upset for the ages, he'll win the Heisman Trophy this weekend.
You can't say it's not well deserved, especially for the O'Brien Award. Mariota finished second in the nation with 38 touchdowns and was uncanny at making good decisions with just two interceptions. His 10.2 yards per attempt lead the country, as does his passing efficiency (186.3). His 53 total touchdowns set a Pac-12 record.
"It's surreal. It's surreal. It really all is," Mariota said via ESPN.com. "Growing up as a kid you always kind of see these award shows. To say that I'm a part of really this fraternity...it's really just a blessing."
Mariota also took home the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Strangely, as Mike Huguenin of NFL.com notes, only two of the past 10 winners of the Maxwell Award have won the Heisman. That should change in earnest.
Hit: Bednarik Award
Category: Defensive Player of the Year
Winner: Scooby Wright III, Arizona
Like Mariota with offensive awards, Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III swept up the defensive awards on Thursday. Wright took home three awards, including the Bednarik Award for Defensive Player of the Year.
Wright was all over the field for the Wildcats, recording 153 tackles on the season, 89 of which were solo tackles. He had nine double-digit tackle performances. He led the country with 27 tackles for loss and finished third in the country with 14 sacks. He also forced six fumbles.
It's tough to find a defender who was more active than Wright.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com.