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Off Tackle Empire’s B1G Players of the Year

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We watched the game, we analyzed the stats, we discussed and agonized, and we voted. Okay we did maybe two of those things, and we only did them halfway. Nonetheless, the “writers” on this site have some utterly predictable opinions on who should win the Player of the Year awards for offense, defense, special teams, and being a freshman. Our winners are below!

In addition to the guys who won, we’re giving out some kudos and “hey we noticed you!” and “here’s a participation prize” mentions, plus a crazy theory or two. Enjoy!

NOTE: We did not vote on or select a Coach of the Year. It’s a garbage award and I forbade any mention of it in this article. Rest assured, though, it won’t go to the guy who actually had the best season or did the best job; it’ll go to the guy who lost every non-con game because shrug.emoji.


SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Chase McLaughlin - K - Illinois

20/25 FGs, 36/36 XPs, 67% touchback rate

All season long I (tried to) feature(d) the STPOTW in the lead photo and place the winner higher up the article’s pecking order than pretty much any other site that selects or publishes winners, and if any of this year’s award winners deserves to be up top, it’s Chase McLaughlin.

One of only two two-time winners of OTE STPOTW, McLaughlin went 11/12 from field goals closer than forty yards, and an impressive 4/6 on field goals from fifty plus yards. Playing for a bad team, McLaughlin scored just shy of 31% of Illinois’s total points on the season. I haven’t looked at any other kicker’s stats for the year, but that seems like a lot.

Okay so I got curious and did check the percentage of points responsible for recorded by kickers on other bad teams:

Minnesota - Emmit Carpenter - 24.6%

Rutgers - Justin Davidovicz - 27%

Northwestern - Couple of Guys - 15.8%

Wisconsin - Rafael Gaglianone - 20.8%

Michigan State - Matt Coughlin - 33.3% (but only scored 79 points. That MSU O...oof)

Ohio State (just for comparison) - Couple of Guys - 19.6%

The point is, McLaughlin shouldered a lot of the point-scoring burden this year and did so with aplomb. He led the B1G in field goal attempts and field goals made(? converted?) while maintaining an 80% FG...rate. Plus, as the lead art and Twitter art clearly demonstrates, he has the best HS recruiting photo.

Congrats Chase!

The Case For Someone Else

Adam Korsack - P - Rutgers

As the punter for Rutgers, Adam Korsack should have expected to be busy, and wow was he busy! He punted so frequently and for so many yards that I had to come up with another special teams award.

The case for Adam is this: He plays at the OTE-mandated Most Important Position On The Field, and he punted for 1,000 more yards than other teams’ punters punted against Rutgers. He AVERAGED 6.5 punts per game. I haven’t looked at the other player’s stats, but that seems like a lot. Good effort, Adam. Keep on keepin’ on.


DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Tre Watson - LB - Maryland

114 tackles, 3 TFLs, 1 sack, 5 interceptions, 1 TD

Tre Watson led the B1G in total tackles without leading the B1G in either solo or assisted tackles. More importantly, he led the B1G in interceptions and finished tied for second in interception-return touchdowns. Yes, it was just the one INT TD, but still, technically correct!

A linebacker leading the league in tackles isn’t so surprising (the top thirteen tacklers and seventeen of the top twenty were linebackers), but a linebacker recording the most interceptions is a bit surprising! Of the top twenty intercepters in B1G 2018, just three (Watson, along with Del’Shawn Phililps and Nate Hall) were linebackers. And something like just seven of the top thirty were non-defensive backs.

Tre averaged nearly ten tackles per game and accounted for almost 30% of Maryland’s interceptions on the year. To top it off, he also forced a fumble and recorded three additional pass breakups. He did manage to win an OTE DPOTW once, but he never received an honorable mention. How did the DPOTY go so under-the-radar? (1) Maryland’s D wasn’t good; (2) his play was overshadowed by like fifteen other things; and (3) your Maryland “writer” must not have nominated him much.

None of that matters today, not on Rex Manning Day! OTE 2018 DPOTY Awards Day! Tre Watson deserves the award, and he’s getting it*

Someone please replace “WEEK” with “YEAR,” thanks!

* there isn’t actually any physical award, just the virtual internet award.

The Case For Someone Else

Kenny Willekes - DL - Michigan State

Kenny Willekes led the B1G in tackles for loss (20.5), finished fourth in sacks (8.5), and recorded the twenty-third most total tackles (76) as the anchor of the third-stingiest (by total yards) defense in the B1G. He accounted for 13 of MSU’s sacks and 14 of its tackles for loss, helping to keep his team close-ish in most games despite a bottom-three offense.

Defensive players are hard pick awards for, but I’m comfortable with Willekes as the DPOTY in the event it turns out Maryland isn’t a real place or something.


OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Dwayne Haskins - QB - Ohio State

314/455 passing, 4081 yards, 42 TDs, 7 interceptions; 63 carries, 127 yards, 4 TDs

The only three-time winner of an OTE Player of the Week award, Dwayne Haskins is the obvious* choice for OTE 2018 B1G OPOTY. The stats are eye popping even without the historical context. Haskins completed exactly 69% of his passes and came up huge in Ohio State’s most important game of the regular season (20/31, 396 yards, 6 TDs). Even in the loss to Purdue, Haskins threw for 470 yards, albeit on an absurd 73 attempts. Haskins had a great season in a vacuum.

In historical context, though, his season looks even more absurd. As detailed in this week’s excellent POTW column, Haskins set the single-season B1G/Big Ten passing yards (4,081) and TD passes (42) records, breaking Curtis Painter’s (3,985) and Drew Brees’s (39) long-standing records. NOTE: After copying and pasting this line, I now realize what a terribly-constructed sentence it was. Anyone looking to be a “for the fun of it!” editor?

How much better was Haskins than the rest of the conference? David Blough had an excellent year passing in his own right, yet he threw for 500 fewer yards than Haskins and seventeen(!) fewer touchdowns than Haskins. Oh, and Blough finished second in the B1G in both those categories.

If we were to plot 2018 QB performance on a chart, we’d have to do one of those poorly-designed charts where Haskins’s dot is way up on the y-axis and over on the x-axis, so far up and over, in fact, that we’d have to add one of those squiggles or lightning bolt symbols to denote a significant jump in the numbers on each axis, lest the chart be the size of a picnic table. You know the kind of chart I’m talking about, right? Where they using funny labeling tricks to make the outliers appear much closer to the mean/median/mode so as to save space and/or deceive you? No? Okay.

Haskins had a great year, and I’m a bit surprised he isn’t getting more Heisman talk. Of course he wouldn’t win over Tua Tagovailoa or Kyler Murray, but the dude just broke two major conference passing records in the same season. Think about it, Heisman voters.

The Case For Someone Else

Rondale Moore is winning the OTE 2018 B1G Freshman of the Year award, and he’s winning the Big Ten version of the same. There was some “serious” “debate” over whether he should have won OTE 2018 B1G OPOTY instead.

WSR [1 day ago]

And while I think Moore is easily OPOTY, Tyler Johnson was 2nd in catches and yards and 3rd in TDs. And he’s a Gopher WR.

OPOTY is Moore, FOTY is either Moore or I could make an argument for Martinez as a consolation prize because he’s quite good. Haskins gets a cookie for being a Buckeye, just like that’s all Urban should ever get in the B1G COTY voting.

Unless they’re markedly better than the competition, I’ll argue that a great player on a lesser team is better than any player on a great team.

We can call it the WSR Antwaan Randle-El theorem.

I don’t have a position on this theory, but I like that WSR took the time to articulate it. What say you, commentariat? Should Moore win OPOTY instead? His very, very good stats are just below.


FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR

Rondale Moore - WR - Purdue

103 receptions, 1164 yards, 12 TDs; 18 carries; 203 yards, 1 TD

Rondale Moore had a tremendous year, regardless of his year in school. He led the B1G in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. His 103 receptions, in addition to being a TON of receptions, were twenty-nine more than the next closest guy (Tyler Johnson, Minnesota who finished second in yards, with 1112). Moore was one of only three guys (Johnson and Parris Campbell) to record double-digit touchdowns as a receiver, and he was crucial in winning me the Fanshot College Fantasy Football Championship.

Plus, Moore is just SO GOOD. He won OTE FOTW twice and received four other honorable mentions for OPOTW or FOTW. He made highlight play after highlight play in 2018, and his jifs/clips/whatever made several appearances in the POTW column. Every time you’re on defense against Purdue you hold your breath, hoping that Moore either doesn’t catch the ball or that Moore doesn’t magically escape ten tackles and run forty yards for a TD.

Most importantly, Moore just made guys look silly all year:

And my personal favorite, from the very first game of the season:

Moore was awesome this season and will be awesome the next two seasons before he gets drafted in the top ten in a few years. Some people even believe he was the offensive player of the year for 2018. For now, though, he’ll have to settle for merely being the best freshman of the year and the second-best offensive player.

The Case For Someone Else

The obvious outstanding choice is Adrian Martinez, the freshman QB for Nebraska. Martinez finished fourth in passing yards per game, seventh in TD passes, and middle-of-the-pack in Ints, which is a big improvement over that guy who threw pick-6s last year and is very good for a freshman. He also completed nearly 65% of his passes and tied for fourth with 7.5 YPA.

Martinez also liked to run the ball, averaging around sixty yards per game and adding eight TDs. Looking at his stats, I recall him missing a game and probably being hobbled for at least one other, so his season could have been even better! He should thrive in Frost’s wacky “Points are actually good guys!” offense, especially given the talented receivers Nebraska always seems to have.

Finally, don’t forget about the contributions of Stevie Scott and Isaiah Bowser, running backs for Indiana and Northwestern, respectively. Neither put up the stats of the other guys, but Scott started and finished strong as the main runner for Indiana, and Bowser was basically Northwestern’s entire offense at times, carrying the ball as many times as necessary to salt away an ugly win. As MNWildcat said (sorta...can’t find the exact message), Bowser’s unexpected success is what let Northwestern win the division.


That’s it, your 2018 OTE Players of the Year! Before we go, and before I drop some absurd poll that’s actually the most worthwhile part of this post, let me exploit my internet bully pulpit for a little bit of homerism.

Jonathan Taylor had an unbelievable season. He led the nation in rushing yards per game (165.75), total rushing yards (1989), and total attempts (approximately a million). Despite all those carries, he still averaged over seven YPC. He averaged twenty-four more rushing yards per game than the next closest guy, and he totaled 290 more yards than the second place rusher...he had 17% more yards than the next closest guy! His team’s mediocrity masked the fact that he had a better year across-the-board (more yards, more TDs, better YPC, fewer fumbles) than last year, and I’m perfectly comfortable saying he’s the best RB in the country and will be again next year. I mean, I heard/made up that he’s on pace to break the all time rushing yards record...by the end of his JUNIOR YEAR. It’s crazy how good he was this year, and it bums me out that Wisconsin wasted him.

The end.

Poll

How’d we do?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    It’s OTE, so I can argue if you want, but these picks are fine.
    (83 votes)
  • 20%
    Good, but it was easy. Except for defense, these were obvious picks
    (35 votes)
  • 31%
    You are dead to me.
    (55 votes)
173 votes total Vote Now