August 21, 2007

Fall Camp Awards

Fall Camp Awards

With fall practices wrapping up and the opener against Wake looming on the horizon it is time to hand out accolades to those who shined this August. The offense has certainly left something to be desired but not enough so that there is a bad taste in my mouth going into the first game.

We know Matt Ryan is good; everyone exhale. Good enough in fact to hold the offense together until everything starts to "click" and the new schemes become natural to those who have had a harder time adjusting. The defense has been very solid and may be forced to carry the team through the growing pains during the first few weeks. Tough task? Maybe. Impossible? Certainly not. The strength of the front seven and the combined experience of B.J. Raji, DeJuan Tribble, JoLonn Dunbar, Nick Larkin and Tyronne Pruitt may just be enough to be the difference maker in a few early games.

Most Valuable Player: The defense. I know, I know. Eleven guys do not count as one. But who would you give it to? If you were to score this fall like the Spring Game was scored, the defense would have won in a blowout. Instead of being bummed about the lack of offensive production this fall, get pumped about three interception games for Tribble and lots of 3-and-outs for the opposition. It gives our explosive style offense more chances to get out there and strike; right?

Best Offensive Player: Matt Ryan. Despite less than stellar numbers this fall Ryan has proven that he remains the reliable and composed nucleus of this offense. His decision making is near flawless and he sees the field incredibly well. Despite being a Tom O'Brien guy, his mobility and arm-strength have fit well into the Steve Logan system this fall. Now it is time for guys to stop dropping passes and read blocks right and this offense will churn out points unlike any in recent memory.

Best Defensive Player: DeJuan Tribble. Who would have thought that we would have a Preseason All-American at CB? Some think Tribble is vastly overrated but this fall it became clear that his instincts are legit and he is driven to become better and to learn from past mistakes.

Best Offensive Lineman: Gosder Cherilus. The future first rounder has been the stability that the shaky OL desperately needs. Basically the only constant on the line, Cherilus has capitalized and become a true leader. His hard work during the off-season has paid off and because of that Matt Ryan can rest assured that Gosder has his back.

Best Defensive Lineman: All. On paper the loss of Mathius Kiwanuka and Al Washington appears to be devastating but this fall has proven otherwise. With Ron Brace and Raji in the middle and Larkin and Alex Albright on the ends, not too much got by during scrimmages and BC fans can rest assured that the same will apply for the opener on September 1st.

Best Offensive Back: Pass. With L.V. Whitworth out the entire fall and Andre Callender taking a little time off himself, it is tough to tell how this position is going to shake out. Jeff Smith has shown he is capable if the other two are not but expect much of the same from this position as the last few years. Last year against Wake: 28 net rushing yards. Lets hope that can be improved upon in the opener.

Best Defensive Back: DeJaun Tribble. See above.

Best True Freshman Award: Anthony Costanzo. The personnel on the OL has certainly been fluid this fall but Costanzo has been a surprise standout with a growing reputation of being extremely smart; an essential attribute for the zone-blocking schemes. In February Costanzo told EA that he would "like to be starting by my red-shirt freshman year". It appears his wish may just come true a year early.

Best Position Battle: Offensive Line. "The good thing about us is we have 13 guys competing, and the best five are going to play" (Jags). Competition is good. It makes guys work harder and play smarter so they can earn the coveted starting spot. While these battles may currently be causing the OL chemistry to be a tad off, the line has steadily improved as the fall has progressed. These battles will make what appears to be a shaky OL into a solid one come mid-season.

12th Man: Brian Toal. Despite being sidelined by off-season surgery and deciding to red-shirt this season something tells me his presence will still be felt. Check out his Facebook.com profile picture… Tom O'Brien decked out in Wolfpack Red. Motivation, to say the least.

Best Media Coverage: Boston Herald. This is a gimme. Steve Conroy has provided excellent info this fall and you get the sense that he's out to prove to that other paper that Boston can be a College Sports Town too.

Overall it was a lackluster fall practice session but one thing is clear - this team has a ton of potential and expectations are at an all-time high. Every game on the schedule is winnable but for the team to actually win those games it is time for guys like Brandon Robinson, Andre Callender, and Jonathan Loyte to step up. Expect to see fireworks from the speedy Jeff Smith and maybe some surprises from the likes of Ifeanyi Momah, James McCluskey, and Mike McLaughlin.

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