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Sunday Morning Quarterback

Sunday Morning Quarterback

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

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Is SMQ qualified to select an All-America team? Has he broken down film of every team, charted results to reach conclusive findings, selected players based upon objective analysis rather than media hype? He has not.

Has anyone? Statistics and highlights can tell us a lot, and everybody knows about the guys who handle the ball, but who, for example, is qualified to declare Max Jean-Giles the best guard in America? Based on what?

SMQ suspects most All-America teams are based primarily on other All-America teams. Somebody noticed this center make a great block during a long run, the TV announcers called a linebacker "a stud" or something, and writers mark the name in their notebooks: "Next year's All-American: Brandon Siler!" If somebody else has noticed, that's confirmation enough to initiate the echo chamber.

None of which serves to say that these players aren't deserving of being called the best; let's just say that not every player has actually appeared on a field or even a TV screen in front of most of the individuals bestowing honors upon him.

So SMQ is not preternaturally informed; that doesn't stop anybody else! Following is his idea of the nation's best, each accompanied by the honest reasons he has been included here:


QB: MATT LEINART, Senior, Southern Cal
Obviously: he's the Heisman winner and should go down as one of the best quarterbacks in college football history. Would have been the top pick in the draft and will be next year. Has a ton of weapons, etc. SMQ has actually seen him play, and he's pretty good.
RB: ADRIAN PETERSON, Sophomore, Oklahoma
Another easy pick; the definition of a stud, and the main reason the Sooners won't have a drop-off. Particularly impressed SMQ in OU's toughest (regular season) games - Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M - when he put the team on his back, something even star freshmen shouldn't have to do. If he had been a junior, he'd have cruised to the Heisman.
RB: LAURENCE MARONEY, Junior, Minnesota
Split time his first two years and has still gone over 1,100 in each; might run for 2,500 by himself, if the Gophers insist on continuing to hand the ball off so much (which they should). A legit burner.
WR: DWAYNE JARRETT, Sophomore, Southern Cal
SMQ first noticed him in a bar while watching USC trash Arizona (Jarrett caught two touchdowns in that game), then watched him have a great Orange Bowl. He caught 55 passes, a whopping 13 for touchdowns. Could be as good as Mike Williams?
WR: DEREK HAGAN, Senior, Arizona State
Never seen him, but he's caught a ton of passes (181) and touchdowns (19) in his career, and a stat check shows he went over 100 yards in five of the Devils' last six games last year. Good enough for SMQ.
TE: DOMONIQUE BYRD, Senior, Southern Cal
When he's not getting punched out by teammates, Byrd is a great athlete - he also plays on USC's basketball team. He also made a really bad-ass one-handed touchdown catch in the Orange Bowl.
OT: ERIC WINSTON, Senior, Miami
Missed all of last year with an injury, but announcers before that were always talking about coaches saying "he could be the best linemen ever at Miami," or some such conjecture. He's a former tight end, too, which is always a recipe for success.
Another "first-saw-him-in-a-game-while-in-a-bar" player, SMQ first became aware of his consecutive start streak (like 75 games), then his status as potential top ten draft pick. Mostly, he's here because of SMQ's longstanding rule regarding accomodation of any large gentlemen named "D'Brickashaw."
OG: WILL MONTGOMERY, Senior, Virginia Tech
Sportscenter highlighted this incredible hustle block Montgomery made during a long V-Tech touchdown run, when he took the first guy off the line of scrimmage and then sort of rolled on the ground to reach a linebacker and spring the back. SMQ was duly impressed.
OG: MARK SETTERSTROM, Senior, Minnesota
For some reason, SMQ has seen a lot of the Gophers on TV the last two years, and is always impressed by the success of their no-frills run game. They don't trick you with the option or anything, they just kick ass. It stands to reason that Setterstrom, a three-year starter who's pretty highly regarded in magazines, is a big reason for this.
C: GREG ESLINGER, Senior, Minnesota
Setterstrom's teammate has a little more of a profile, because announcers love to talk about his ability to pull - like no other center can accomplish this (talking heads are similarly impressed with the New York Jets' Kevin Mawae for the same reason). But really, Eslinger does move well and is pretty much unanimously regarded as the best center in the country.

DE: MATHIAS KIWANUKA, Senior, Boston College
Had 11.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss, and he's a big jumper who's also blocked a bunch of kicks. Might set the NCAA record for longest-dreds-out-the-back-of-the-helmet.
DE: DARRYL TAPP, Senior, Virginia Tech
SMQ heard some announcers singing his praises for being a hustle guy and having a great game during the Hokies' upset of Miami, and now sees his name all over the preseason magazines. So why not?
DT: JESSE MAHELONA, Senior, Tennessee
18.5 tackles for loss can't be wrong. Highly regarded.
OLB: A.J. HAWK, Senior, Ohio State
Was a top tackler in '04 (although he suspiciously had more assists than solo stops); loses points for sporting a boring hair cut despite the higher standard set by his Legion of Doom namesake.
ILB: TIM MCGARIGLE, Senior, Northwestern
SMQ doesn't care that the magazines are snubbing McGarigle, or that he's never seen the guy play; Tim's the only player in the country who notched 100 solo tackles last year, and did it against a bitch of a schedule in the Big Ten. What else is a linebacker supposed to do?
ILB: ABDUL HODGE, Senior, Iowa
Hodge has been a big-time guy pretty much from Day One as a freshman, and the defense has been the biggest reason Iowa's established itself as a Big Ten heavy. He deserves his due as a senior.
See above.
CB: CHARLES GORDON, Junior, Kansas
Talk about an athlete: Gordon is a freshman All-American and KU's best player as a receiver in 2003, then gets moved to defense and leads the nation in interceptions as a sophomore. Play him at quarterback!
CB: JASON ALLEN, Senior, Tennessee
He sticks his nose in: SMQ remembers Allen popping Kellen Winslow and causing a key fumble in the Vols' upset of Miami in 2003, and loves any corner who finishes in the top ten nationally in solo tackles.
S: ROMAN HARPER, Senior, Alabama
Maybe not the best cover guy, but he led a team full of defensive stars in tackles, and has been playing more like a linebacker for a couple years now. Plus he picked off three passes - he's got that old nose for the ball.
S: GREG THREAT, Senior, Miami
Impressed SMQ against Florida State in last year's opener, and is highly regarded by magazines this preseason; plus, Miami has to have at least one defensive All-American.

Special Teams
K: ANDREW WELLOCK, Junior, Eastern Michigan
A field goal's a field goal, so playing in the MAC doesn't diminish the fact that Wellock was an NCAA-best 91 percent on 23 kicks.
P: BRANDON FIELDS, Senior, Michigan State
See above about punting, where Fields led the nation with an almost 48-yard average.
KR: ASHLAN DAVIS, Junior, Tulsa
There are a lot of top-notch kick returners, more than any year in recent memory, but none of them except Davis can say they set an NCAA-record in kick returns for touchdown. Davis turned that trick five times last year, and SMQ never even saw a highlight of the guy.
PR: TED GINN, JR., Sophomore, Ohio State
Don't get cute and try to kick to this guy. He's really, really fast.

QB: Chris Leak, Junior, Florida
RB: DeAngelo Williams, Senior, Memphis
RB: Mike Hart, Sophomore, Michigan
WR: Mike Hass, Senior, Oregon State
WR: Jarrett Hicks, Junior, Texas Tech
TE: Leonard Pope, Junior, Georgia
OT: Marcus McNeil, Senior, Auburn
OT: Andrew Whitworth , Senior, LSU
OG: Nate Livings, Senior, LSU
OG: Will Allen, Senior, Texas
C: Mike Degory, Senior, Florida

DE: Mario Williams, Junior, N.C. State
DE: Stanley McClover, Sophomore, Auburn
DT: Claude Wroten, Senior, LSU
OLB: Spencer Havner, Senior, UCLA
ILB: Ahmad Brooks, Junior, Virginia
ILB: D'Qwell Jackson, Senior, Maryland
OLB: DeMeco Ryans, Senior, Alabama
CB: Jimmy Willimas, Senior, Virginia Tech
CB: Cedric Griffin, Senior, Texas
S: Ko Simpson, Sophomore, South Carolina
S: Maurice Lane, Senior, Baylor

Special Teams
K: Mason Crosby, Junior, Colorado
P: Tom Malone, Senior, Southern Cal
KR: Reggie Bush, Junior, Southern Cal
PR: Devin Hester, Junior, Miami

Get all that? At the end of the season, SMQ will re-visit these picks to see how each guy panned out.
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And don't let the name fool ya - second guessing the phenomenal athletic feats and split-second decisions of college kids under extreme physical duress is for every day of the week.

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