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Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Big East awards tracker

By Andrea Adelson

Let's take a look at the race for some of the top awards in the Big East this season. I still think offensive and defensive player of the year are wide open. If Cincinnati wins the league, I think coach Butch Jones would be a near-lock for coach of the year.

Offensive Player of the Year

1. Geno Smith, West Virginia. The Mountaineers have lost three games, but Smith has really had an incredible season. If his team did not have breakdowns on special teams and defense, he would be a virtual lock for this award. I still think he is one of the favorites when you look at what he has accomplished: 3,125 yards, 23 touchdowns, five interceptions. He has thrown for more than 300 yards in six games and for more than 400 yards three times.

2. Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers. Sanu needs 12 catches to set the Big East single-season record for receptions. Larry Fitzgerald set the current record of 92 in 2003. Sanu ranks sixth in the nation, averaging nine receptions per game. At that rate, he should have the record next week against Cincinnati at the latest. He has five games this season with double-digit receptions, including two with 13 or more so the record could fall Saturday against Army.

3. Isaiah Pead or Zach Collaros, Cincinnati. It really is a toss-up between these two players because each has been just as important to the success the Bearcats have had this season. Pead is averaging 109 yards a game, and his average of 6 yards a run is the highest in the Big East among backs with 100 or more carries. Collaros, meanwhile, ranks third in the league in passing but he does have eight interceptions on the season.

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers. Greene has been a force this season, thanks to his move to linebacker. Coach Greg Schiano made the change to get more speed on the field, and to get more production out of the position. That has paid off big time. Greene is coming off a career-high 17 tackles against USF, and leads the league with 92 tackles, an average of 10.2 a game. Rutgers ranks No. 2 in the Big East in total defense and scoring defense.

2. JK Schaffer, LB, Cincinnati. Schaffer has been a tackling machine once again, ranking third in the Big East with 8.4 tackles a game and tied for fifth with seven pass breakups. He is coming off a game in which he had a team and season-high 13 tackles in a win at Pitt. Not to be outdone, teammate Derek Wolfe is tied for the league lead with seven sacks and ranks No. 2 in tackles for loss with 12.

3. Dexter Heyman, LB, Louisville. Perhaps the most consistent player on a Louisville defense that has been solid for most of the season. Heyman has 61 tackles, including a team-high 10 for loss.

Coach of the Year

1. Butch Jones, Cincinnati. Jones has led a turnaround from 4-8 to 7-1 and should be the front-runner for this award.

2. Charlie Strong, Louisville. If the Cardinals keep winning, Strong could make a serious push. Louisville was 2-4 before winning three straight to get into the Big East race.