Big East superlative tracker

November, 2, 2011
11/02/11
1:00
PM ET
Just as this league race is completely wide open, so is the race for offensive and defensive player of the year and coach of the year in the Big East. Here are a few candidates to consider.

Offense

1. Geno Smith, West Virginia. Smith has had a few bad games, but he also has had some big games, too. Smith ranks No. 5 nationally in passing and leads the league in that category. Smith has completed 209 of 330 passes for 2,715 yards and 20 touchdowns with five interceptions this season.

2. Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers. Sanu has 70 catches for 731 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He leads the league in receptions per game (8.8) and remains on pace to become the first player in Big East history to catch 100 passes in a season. Larry Fitzgerald owns the record with 92, set in 2003 at Pitt.

3. Isaiah Pead/Zach Collaros, Cincinnati. Both of these guys have been equally valuable for the Bearcats in their 6-1 start. Pead ranks No. 3 in the league in rushing, averaging 100 yards a game. Collaros ranks third in the league in passing, with 1,576 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Defense

1. JK Schaffer, Cincinnati. Schaffer has been the heart of the improved Bearcats defense, averaging 7.7 tackles a game. He also has three interceptions.

2. Dexter Heyman, Louisville. Heyman has 55 tackles, including 10 for a loss, three sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble this season. Safety Hakeem Smith has been good this season, too.

3. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers. Greene leads the league with 75 tackles and has been a force on the retooled Rutgers defense.

4. Aaron Donald, Pitt. Watch out for Donald who is on a tear of late. He leads the league with seven sacks and has 2.5 additional tackles for loss.

Coach of the Year

Butch Jones, Cincinnati. Jones has taken a team that went 4-8 last season to 6-1 and on top of the Big East. If the Bearcats hang on to win the league, he should be a virtual lock to win this award. If they slip, then there are plenty of other candidates but it depends on the team that rises to the top.

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