An obviously impressed Kristin Davis marvels at the awesome influence wielded by Dawg Sports. (Photograph from Yahoo! Movies.)
Each week, I am called upon to select the five most deserving candidates for an accolade intended to recognize the college football player of the year. Based upon the (admittedly limited) action we have seen so far, these are the contenders, in descending order:
1. Buster Davis (Florida State): The Seminole senior is listed as F.S.U.'s middle linebacker, but the modifier seems almost superfluous . . . unless by "middle" Mickey Andrews intends to indicate that the standout stalwart on a stellar defensive unit will be in the middle of every play. Davis recorded nine solo tackles and three assists, including two sacks. His three and a half tackles for loss cost the Hurricanes 36 yards of real estate, which were critical in a low-scoring battle for field position such as last night's game in the Orange Bowl. We gave Vince Young credit for being the game-changing player in several of Texas's victories last year; Buster Davis deserves the same credit for altering the outcome of the major clash of heavyweights in the season's opening weekend.
I've been a big fan of Buster's ever since he beat Mike Tyson in Tokyo. (Photograph from E.S.P.N.)
2. Kenny Irons (Auburn): I hate Auburn, but Irons's accomplishments cannot be denied. The senior tailback from Dacula, Ga., gained 40 receiving yards on three catches, tallied 183 rushing yards on 20 carries, and scored a touchdown on the way to being named the S.E.C. offensive player of the week. Irons is an impressive player at a position for which the bar is set quite high at the school and in the league where he competes.
By the way, for those of you who aren't from around here, "Dacula" does not rhyme with this guy's name.
3. Colt McCoy (Texas): Tennessee fans wondered how the Volunteers would ever replace Peyton Manning. U.S.C. fans wondered how the Trojans would ever replace Carson Palmer. Texas fans wondered how the Longhorns would ever replace Vince Young. The answers were Tee Martin, Matt Leinart, and this guy. No, the player with the name most perfectly suited to playing quarterback at his school since Georgia's own Benjamin Franklin "Buck" Belue can never truly replace Young, but he has proven that he is the real McCoy, answering the last lingering question that stood between the 'Horns and a second straight national title.
If this is the kind of quality talent being picked up by Dr. McCoy in outer space, just imagine the kind of women Colt McCoy is spending time with in Austin this week.
4. Steve Slaton (West Virginia): It turns out that the Sugar Bowl was no fluke; Slaton is for real. The Mountaineers' workhorse gained 203 yards on 33 rushing attempts, scoring a pair of touchdowns in addition to hauling in a 12-yard pass reception to pace a W.V.U. victory over in-state rival Marshall.
All right! He's beaten somebody else now! Can we please forget that this game ever happened?!?!
5. Ben Olson (U.C.L.A.): Aside from the aforementioned McCoy's, was there a more impressive quarterback debut this fall than Olson's performance against Utah? The rising star of Westwood connected on 25 of his 33 pass attempts for 318 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions, giving him a 186.7 quarterback rating. 186.7? That's just tacky.
I'm pretty sure Ben is the one without the eating disorder.
Honorable mention goes to the Bulldogs' Matthew Stafford, whose own Q.B. rating (193.2) wasn't too shabby but whose statistics (3 for 5, 40 yards, 1 T.D., no interceptions) didn't warrant inclusion. I make reference to Stafford this evening because great promise was shown on Saturday afternoon and it is abundantly clear that he will be on everyone's list 10 weeks hence.
Stafford fever . . . catch it!
When that happens, remember . . . you heard it here first.