Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Midseason All-America team
By Mark Schlabach
With the first half of the 2013 season in the rearview mirror, it's time to unveil the ESPN.com Midseason All-America team.
Some of the midseason All-Americans were expected to be here: Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, to name a few.
But there also were some breakout stars in the first seven weeks of the season: Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, Louisville safety Calvin Pryor, Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Facyson and Missouri defensive end Michael Sam.
Here's the ESPN.com Midseason All-America team:
Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Who didn't believe Oregon's offense would slip without coach Chip Kelly? Mariota, a sophomore from Honolulu, has been even better under new coach Mark Helfrich, completing 60.6 percent of his passes for 1,724 yards with 17 touchdowns, while running for 426 yards with eight scores for the No. 2 Ducks. He leads FBS players with a 97.0 QBR rating. Even better: Mariota hasn't thrown an interception in 165 pass attempts and has been sacked only five times in six games. The trigger man in the country's most explosive offense looks like the guy to beat in the Heisman Trophy race.
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Is there a better home run threat in the backfield than Gordon? He's averaging nearly a first down (9.7 yards) per carry and his 13 career touchdowns have averaged 35.8 yards per play. Gordon ran for 140 yards or more in five of the No. 25 Badgers' six games this season and already has piled up 870 yards with eight touchdowns. Gordon has three runs longer than 70 yards and seven longer than 30. If Gordon, a sophomore from Kenosha, Wis., didn't share carries with James White (88 atttempts) and Corey Clement (48), he'd probably lead FBS players in rushing by a wide margin.
Vic Beasley, Clemson
We knew the No. 3 Tigers would be really explosive on offense with quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins coming back to run offensive coordinator Chad Morris' spread attack. But we didn't know Clemson would be so much better on defense. The Tigers are allowing only 16.2 points per game, and Beasley's pressure off the edge is a big reason for the dramatic improvement. He leads FBS players with nine sacks and is tied for first with 12 unassisted tackles for loss. He was averaging a sack every 25 plays before last week's win over Boston College.
Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Who's the active sack leader in college football? Probably not the guy you believe. Donald, a homegrown senior from Pittsburgh, leads FBS players in both sacks per game (1.6) and tackles for loss per game (2.4), totaling eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss in five games. He has at least one sack in every game this season and is the FBS active career sack leader with 26½, which is tied for fourth in Pittsburgh history.
To see the full midseason All-America team, click here.