Through the second half of the season, I’ll be monitoring the candidates for three postseason awards: offensive player of the year, defensive player of the year and coach of the year. It’s still too early to get a good read on the race, and candidates can be added or subtracted in the following weeks, based on their performance and the team results. So consider this a starting point and a very fluid list.
For now, here are three front-runners in each category:
NC State quarterback Russell Wilson -- He completed 38 of 51 pass attempts for 328 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Boston College. Wilson also carried the ball 14 times for 45 yards. Wilson has now passed for 300 or more yards five times in six games this season.
Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor -- With the 45-21 win over Central Michigan, Taylor won his 27th game as a starter, surpassing Bryan Randall’s previous high of 26 victories. He accounted for 288 of the Hokies’ 394 yards of total offense in that game. He leads the ACC in pass efficiency (156), has completed 61.6 percent of his passes and is fourth in the ACC in total offense with 238.2 yards per game.
FSU guard Rodney Hudson -- FSU piled up 471 total yards in the 45-17 victory over Miami. Hudson matched his season high by earning a grade of 94 percent (92 run/96 pass), which included two knockdown blocks. He did not register a missed assignment or draw a penalty in 62 snaps while leading a running attack that piled up 298 yards on just 40 carries (7.4 ypc).
On the bubble: Clemson RB Andre Ellington, Duke WR Conner Vernon, FSU QB Christian Ponder, Georgia Tech quarterback Joshua Nesbitt, Maryland receiver Torrey Smith, Miami receiver Leonard Hankerson, UNC running back Johnny White,
NC State linebacker Nate Irving -- He had six tackles, one pass breakup a quarterback hurry and half a sack in the win over BC. He leads his team with 45 tackles. He has four quarterback hurries, one forced fumble, 8.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers -- He had two sacks for 16 yards in the loss to North Carolina. He now has six sacks in just five games and 11.5 tackles for loss. In five games he has already exceeded his 2009 season totals in terms of sacks and tackles for loss. Bowers ranks third in the nation for tackles for loss and is tied for fourth in sacks.
Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly -- It’s hard to imagine making 20 tackles and not getting the W. That’s what happened to Kuechly against NC State. He leads the nation in tackles with 14.2 per game. He reached 200 career tackles faster than any other player in school history. He owns the nation’s longest streak of games with double digit tackles at 14. He leads the team with 71 total tackles and has recovered two fumbles.
On the bubble: FSU defensive end Brandon Jenkins, Miami defensive end Allen Bailey, Wake Forest defensive end Kyle Wilber, Virginia Tech defensive back Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor, Virginia defensive back Chase Minnifield, UNC linebacker Bruce Carter, Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak,
Coach of the Year
NC State coach Tom O’Brien -- He finally defeated his former program, Boston College, and has the Pack off to their best start since 2002.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher -- He celebrated his 45th birthday with a 45-17 win over rival Miami and has the Seminoles leading the Atlantic Division in his first season as a head coach.
Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen -- After a 2-10 finish in 2009, the Terps are now 4-1 overall with their lone loss coming on the road to a ranked West Virginia team.