Brian: Every week, I become more and more impressed with the play of true freshman linebacker Luke Kuechly. This week, Kuechly once again was all over the field against Central Michigan, pacing the team in tackles with 11. It’s becoming business as usual as Kuechly continues to record double-digit tackles week in and week out.
Kuechly added another accomplishment to his record last week, intercepting Chippewa QB Ryan Radcliff and scampering 28 yards for the touchdown. It was his first career touchdown at any level.
Kuechly’s 94 total tackles leads the ACC and ranks 6th nationally, as well as #1 in the country with 58 solo tackles. He has more than double the number of tackles than the second best Eagle (Marcellus Bowman with 43). Kuechly also have 7 tackles for loss, good for second on the team behind only Alex Albright’s 7.5 TFLs. Now Kuechly has added an interception and a touchdown to his already gaudy stats.
So my question is, should Kuechly be receiving some serious consideration for ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors?
Jeff: Luke Kuechly has been a phenominal addition to the Eagles' defense this season and I would imagine has freshman defensive player of the year all wrapped up. But has Boston College been good enough for him to take home such an award? BC has not had an incredible year defensively. The Eagles have only recorded 1 shutout this season against Northeastern (as opposed to 3 last season). Just like the Heisman Trophy typically goes to a player on one of the best teams in the country, this award will end up going to a defensive player on a better ACC defensive unit. The award will probably also go to an upperclassman as well. Right now, I think it's safe to say Spaz has a better chance for COY than Kuechly has for DPOY. Agree?
Brian: I'm not so sure I would easily dismiss Kuechly's chances of winning Defensive Player of the Year. Certainly working against him is the fact that he wasn't even on anyone's radar for the media's preseason All-ACC first team defense. But at the same time, many of the players on the preseason first team aren't having nearly as good of a year as the experts predicted. Virginia Tech's Jason Worilds isn't having quite the year that Hokies fans would have liked. Neither has Hokie safety Kam Chancellor (54 tackles, 1 interception). Most of the rest of the preseason first team defense are on teams that aren't having the best of seasons (NC State, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia).
The only defenders who I think have a leg up on Kuechly may be Georgia Tech's Derrick Morgan (8 sacks for -55 yards) and Clemson junior safety DeAndre McDaniel (nation-leading 7 interceptions, 61 tackles). However, Georgia Tech's defensive unit, statistically speaking, hasn't put up numbers as good as BC's. Clemson's defensive unit has been better than BC's, but the Tigers and the Eagles both already have 3 losses. Kuechly might not win the award this year, but if he keeps it up, he will definitely be in the conversation and finish in the top 5 for Defensive Player of the Year.
As for Spaz's chances of winning ACC Coach of the Year, I don't like the notion of rewarding Spaz for getting this team to 8 or 9 wins simply because the media's preseason expectations were low for BC. Granted the Eagles had a lot of offseason turmoil but there was still a solid core of players left over from the Jags era. I would much rather see this award go to Randy Shannon or Paul Johnson if they finish the year with a better record than BC. I mean, we won 9 games last season. So if Spaz gets the Eagles to 8 or 9 wins, he will simply be maintaining a level of success Eagles fans have become accustomed to at the Heights over the last 10 years. Jagodzinski didn't win the award in 2007 after leading the Eagles to an 11-3 record and a No. 2 national ranking midseason. That year, the award went to Al Groh. I didn't like that decision then, and if Spaz wins the award over Paul Johnson or Randy Shannon, who can get their teams to 10-11 regular season wins, I won't like the selection this year either.
Jeff: While I was looking up stats after you mentioned Kuechly having the sixth most tackles in the country this year, I noticed that Montel Harris has the 5th most touchdowns in the country. Both of these players will fall down their respective award lists slightly next week as BC is idle but the future of BC looks pretty darn good with a freshman quarterback, a stud true freshman linebacker and a solid sophomore running back.