Despite muddied postseason view, Oregon football lights up national award lists
After an Oregon home loss to Stanford showcased a less-than-stellar offense, Oregon standouts Marcus Mariota and Kenjon Barner, both on Heisman watchlists at one point, have dropped in national hype. However, many players, including Barner and Mariota, are still in the running for national accolades and awards.
Doak Walker Award
Won by LaMichael James in 2010, this prestigious award goes to the nation’s top running back. This year seems to be a two-man race between Oregon’s Barner (1426 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns) and Wisconsin’s Montee Ball@@http://www.uwbadgers.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/ball_montee00.html@@ (1417 yards rushing with 17 touchdowns). Barner’s production has dipped since the USC game, but a strong performance on Saturday against Oregon State would help put him over the top for the award.
Nearly one month ago both Barner and De’Anthony Thomas were semifinalists for this award, going to the most outstanding college player. Now the race is between Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein@@http://www.kstatesports.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/klein_collin00.html@@(2306 yards passing 14 passing touchdowns, 20 rushing touchdowns), Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (3047 yards, 21 touchdowns), and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o@@http://www.und.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/teo_manti00.html@@ (96 tackles), all of whom are also in the running for the Heisman.
Walter Camp Award
Awarded to the player of the year, the Walter Camp Award is similar to the Maxwell or Heisman. All three share similar candidates and as recently as Nov. 13, Barner was on the watch list.
Home Depot Coach of the Year Award
Oregon head coach Chip Kelly is a perennial favorite for this award, but this year the top finalists seem to be Brian Kelly@@google search@@ of No. 1 Notre Dame and Jim Mora@@google@@ of N0. 17 UCLA. Mora, in his first year at UCLA, has the team ranked No. 17, and with a 9-2 record, the Bruins are headed to their second Pac-12 conference championship game in a row.
Davey O’Brien Award
Oregon redshirt freshman Mariota was a semifinalist for this award, given to the nation’s best quarterback. Still, the top three finalists this year are Klein, Manziel and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller.@@google@@
Jim Thorpe Award
Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu@@goducks.com@@ was a semifinalist for the award but didn’t make the finalist list despite forcing six fumbles this year. The three finalists for the award are Johnthan Banks@@http://mississippistate.scout.com/a.z?s=136&p=8&c=1&nid=3654609@@ (Mississippi State), Dee Milliner@@http://www.rolltide.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/milliner_dee00.html@@ (Alabama), and Phillip Thomas (Fresno State).@@http://www.gobulldogs.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/thomas_phillip01.html@@
Oregon center Hroniss Grasu@@goducks.com@@ is on the watch list for this award given to the nation’s top center. Recently in an interview with OregonLive.com, quarterback Mariota sang Grasu’s praises.
“He’s the center of it all,” Mariota said. “That’s kind of cliché, but he’s the guy who makes sure we all understand what’s going on.”
Ted Hendricks Award
Finalists for the award given to the top defensive end include Oregon’s Dion Jordan, who is also in the running for the Bednarik Award (defense), Rotary Lombardi Award (lineman), Bronko Nagurski Trophy (defense). Jordan has played a dominant roll for an Oregon defense that has been decimated by injuries. To this point, Jordan has 42 tackles and five sacks as a defensive leader.
Paul Hornung Award
Both Barner and Thomas are on the watchlist for this award given to the most versatile player in the country. Barner has proved this year that he can be a workhorse for the speedy Oregon offense by running between the tackles, outside and receiving out of the backfield. Thomas, though his play has been limited in comparison to last season, has continued to show his versatility by playing in the slot, at tailback, and returning both kicks and punts. Defenses have come to fear Thomas due to his knack for making game changing plays.