Monday, March 14, 2011
Non-AQ Top 25 Players: No. 6
By Andrea Adelson
Four of the Top six players on this list are quarterbacks. I am sure you can figure out the Top 3. This fourth one had an outstanding season, and so did his team. Perhaps you are scratching your head because two Tulsa players are in the Top 8, but both are well deserving after posting career seasons. Do I believe G.J. Kinne was the fourth-best non-AQ quarterback in 2010? Absolutely.
No. 6 G.J. Kinne, QB, Tulsa
G.J. Kinne passed for 3,650 yards and 31 touchdowns on his way to being named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year.
Kinne began his career as a highly touted prospect at Texas, only to transfer to Tulsa. He became the starter in 2009, but did not feel truly comfortable in the spread offense. The time for comfort was 2010. Thanks to new coach Chad Morris, Kinne emerged as one of the best quarterbacks among the non-AQs. He could run the ball, and he could throw the ball, and he took special leadership of this team. When things looked bleak early on, he helped rally them. The turning point came in a win at Notre Dame. Tulsa ended up reeling off seven straight wins, including an impressive performance in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl that got them to 10 wins and a final ranking of No. 24 in the AP poll. The Golden Hurricane wouldn’t have done it without Kinne, who ranked No. 4 in the nation in total offense, having led the team with 561 yards rushing and 3,650 yards passing. His touchdown-to-interception ratio was much improved (from 22-10 to 31-10) and his sacks were way down (from 44 to 28). That shows the sign of maturity and growth. Tulsa ended up ranking No. 5 in the nation in total offense, averaging 505.6 yards a game. His performance won him Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year honors. This season holds plenty of promise, but he is going to be working with yet another offensive coordinator and a new head coach after the departures of Morris and Todd Graham. New coach Bill Blankenship said he wouldn’t change anything about the offense, but how Kinne responds with yet another change in leadership remains to be seen.