Award season is just around the corner, and after this week's games, the WAC will be naming its players of the year and coach of the year. Does Boise State deserve to sweep the awards?
After the jump, take a look at how each award race is shaping up and share your comments on how likely a Bronco sweep would be.
Offensive Player of the Year
- Kellen Moore
- QB Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
- RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State
The race for this year's WAC OPOY has been eerily reminiscent of those maddening JumboTron plane/waterboat/car races they have at sporting events. One minute the red one is the lead. The next minute, it's the yellow one. Would someone please just end the thing so that we can all mentally prepare for the hidden-ball-in-helmet video?
Mathews was the overwhelming favorite for this award at the season's halfway point, but as is Mathews M.O., he got injured and has fallen behind. Next in line was Kaepernick who spearheaded a revitalized Nevada team as it ran off eight straight wins. However, it appears that the player with the most momentum at the end of the season is Moore, who clearly outdueled Kaepernick in the de facto WAC championship.
The favorite? Moore. It would be an abomination if anyone other than Moore took home OPOY honors. In other words, it would be a lot like last year.
(Note: All three players should return next year, providing quite the hype-fest for Karl Benson and the WAC. Has he already printed the media guide cover?)
Defensive Player of the Year
- Ryan Winterswyk
- DT D'Anthony Smith, Louisiana Tech
- LB Ben Jacobs, Fresno State
- S Shiloh Keo, Idaho
- DE Dontay Moch, Nevada
Out of the three WAC awards, I think this one will be the closest one to call. Each of the above four players has had a special season. Idaho's Keo is second in the WAC in tackles and has been the sole playmaker on a much-improved Vandal defense. Jacobs has been an animal, recording 82 tackles, 3 FFs, 3 FRs, and two blocked kicks; plus, the WAC loves choosing linebackers (see Solomon Elimimian last year). Smith is the most NFL-ready defensive player in the conference, and while his numbers aren't outstanding, his impact certainly has been. Moch leads the conference in TFLs and is in the top three in sacks.
And then there's Winterswyk. He currently leads the WAC in sacks (8.0) and sits second in TFLs (15). He has been a disruptive force all season long, hassling quarterbacks and stuffing the run. Has he been Boise State's best defensive player this season? I would say yes. And in a year when there is no clear-cut player deserving of WAC DPOY, wouldn't it make sense to choose the best player on the conference's best defense?
The Statesman unveiled its choices for WAC awards this week, and they come to a different conclusion than I did.
Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson is the choice in a year without a dominant player. Wilson is an All-American whose production - three interceptions, two pass breakups, two touchdowns - doesn't show his true value.
Do you think Wilson has played better than Winterswyk this season?
Personally, I think that Wilson had a better 2008. Anyone who says that teams do not throw Wilson's way this season is absolutely wrong. Teams most certainly throw his way, and he has been surprisingly undisciplined with penalties and tackling at times this year. Don't get me wrong. Wilson is still an all-time great Bronco. I just don't see him deserving DPOY honors this season.
If we're talking about who is more valuable to the Broncos' defense, then I think Wilson might win. But as far as the player who has had the better season, I think that player is Winterswyk.
Coach of the Year
- Coach Pete
- Robb Akey
- Chris Ault
The only reason I listed Ault above is that I can see some people giving him credit for bringing Nevada out of that 0-3 hole and running off eight straight wins. That said, I think the discussion is really between Robb Akey and Coach Pete.
But really, should it even be a discussion? No doubt Akey worked some miracles with the Vandals this year in bringing them to 7-5. However, he lost his team's three biggest games and only won one out of five games after becoming bowl eligible against a weak schedule. The Vandals lost by double-digits to the conference's three best teams, giving up 133 points combined to Nevada and Boise State. And to put the cherry on top, Idaho dropped its season finale at home against a three-win Utah State.
On the other hand, Coach Pete has gone undefeated with the youngest team in the country.
If the WAC is serious about awarding COY to the coach who had done the best job this season, the award will go to Coach Pete. Year in and year out, he pulls off an incredible job, and it would be a shame if he is punished for his consistency.
(Note: I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the turnaround that Hawaii's Greg McMackin has done with the Warriors. The season could not have started worse for UH - McMackin's homophobic/apologetic blunder at media days, the Warriors' 2-6 start, the loss of their starting quarterback. But four straight wins, including a victory over Navy, has Hawaii on the cusp of a bowl. Who would have thought that was possible a month ago?)
Who do you think will win this season's WAC awards? Share your winners in the comments. Also, please weigh in on who you think has had the better season: Ryan Winterswyk or Kyle Wilson.