NCF Nation: Nick Stringer

Brown, McCoy, Suh are major award winners

December, 1, 2009
12/01/09
4:28
PM ET
Texas coach Mack Brown, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh were announced today as the Big 12's coach of the year, offensive player of the year and defensive player of the year, respectively.

McCoy and Suh also were the only two unanimous first-team selections to the All-Big 12 team picked by coaches.

McCoy becomes the fourth Texas player to be selected as OPOY and the third Longhorn quarterback. Previous Texas selections included Ricky Williams (1997 and 1998), Major Applewhite (1999) and Vince Young (2005).

Suh becomes the second Nebraska defensive player to be honored, joining Grant Wistrom (1996 and 1997).

And Brown earns his second coach of the year honors after winning it in 2005.

One interesting note that shows the balance in the conference this season is that every team in the league was represented by at least one player on the first-team squad.

Coaches also announced their All-Big 12 teams. They were forbidden from voting for their own players.

Here's a list of the award winners, as selected by the league's coaches:

Coach of the Year: Mack Brown, Texas

Offensive Lineman of the Year: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State

Defensive Lineman of the Year: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

Offensive Freshman of the Year: Christine Michael, Texas A&M

Defensive Freshman of the Year: Aldon Smith, Missouri

Special Teams Player of the Year: Brandon Banks, Kansas State

Defensive Newcomer of the Year: David Sims, Iowa State

Offensive Newcomer of the Year: Daniel Thomas, Kansas State

Defensive Player of the Year: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

Offensive Player of the Year: Colt McCoy, Texas

And here's a look at who the coaches chose for their first-team offensive and defensive units.

OFFENSE:

QB: Colt McCoy, Texas

RB: Daniel Thomas, Kansas State

RB: Keith Toston, Oklahoma State

FB: Bryant Ward, Oklahoma State

WR: Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas

WR: Jordan Shipley, Texas

WR: Danario Alexander, Missouri

TE: Jeron Mastrud, Kansas State

OL: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State *

OL: Trent Williams, Oklahoma *

OL: Nick Stringer, Kansas State

OL: Brandon Carter, Texas Tech

OL: Nate Solder, Colorado

K: Grant Ressel, Missouri

KR/PR: Brandon Banks, Kansas State

DEFENSE

DL: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

DL: Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma *

DL: Von Miller, Texas A&M

DL: Brandon Sharpe, Texas Tech

DL: Jared Crick, Nebraska

LB: Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri *

LB: Jesse Smith, Iowa State

LB: Travis Lewis, Oklahoma

DB: Earl Thomas, Texas

DB: Perrish Cox, Oklahoma State

DB: Larry Asante, Nebraska

DB: Prince Amukamara, Nebraska

P: Derek Epperson, Baylor

Note: Bold notations are unanimous selections. Those selections with an asterisk are repeat choices from last season.

I was a little disappointed that the coaches can make a decision to pick a fullback as a specific positional choice and then not designate one of the picks specifically for a center. Every team in the league has a center. Not every team in the Big 12 has a true fullback that plays the majority of his snaps.

Also, it's an age-old pet peeve of mine that they don't break down the defensive choices into specific positions like ends, tackles, linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties.

Here's a link to the Big 12's Web site for a complete listing of the first-team, second-team and honorable mention choices.

KSU facing 'boom or bust' game

November, 18, 2009
11/18/09
4:32
PM ET
Kansas State gave naysayers every reason in the world to doubt their legitimacy as Big 12 North champions last week.

A 38-12 blowout home loss to Missouri -- the Wildcats’ first home loss of the season -- brought back a lot of doubts about the Wildcats.

[+] EnlargeBill Snyder
Scott Sewell/Icon SMIBill Snyder's teams follow a singular mantra: Improve every day.
The Wildcats failed to force a turnover while committing three. They were held without a touchdown for the first time since a loss to Syracuse in the 2001 Insight Bowl. And their ground game keyed by Big 12 rushing leader Daniel Thomas produced only 112 yards.

But welcome to the wacky North Division, where that loss meant little in the grand scheme of things. The Wildcats still can wrap up an improbable North title by winning Saturday at Nebraska.

Everything is on the line for the 6-5 Wildcats. A victory ensures that KSU wins the North and advances to the Big 12 championship game, while also securing a bowl bid. A loss and the Wildcats will remain at home during the holiday season for the fourth straight season.

"I have never been involved in a ballgame in which bowl eligibility and a division championship were on the line at the same time," said KSU coach Bill Snyder, who will be wrapping up his 41st regular season in coaching with Saturday’s game.

The Wildcats haven’t come close to winning the division since the last time Snyder led KSU to the North title in 2003. That season, of course, is remembered for what KSU accomplished later that season with the stunning triumph over Oklahoma in the championship game. It remains the last Big 12 championship team from the North Division.

Snyder will be looking for his fourth championship game appearance. And considering what was expected before the season, taking this team to Arlington for the championship game would rank among the crowing achievements of a career that should boost him into the College Football Hall of Fame one day.

His past history has given him an idea of how important the game is. But he’s not quite sure that the Wildcats, who were picked to finish fifth in the preseason media poll, understand the circumstances of playing in the penultimate game of the season.

“It's kind of like being a parent," Snyder said. "You think you have all of the experience and you try to share with them what you think might be the right way for young people — like your children. They don't always want to listen to you.

"So it's hard to project what kind of an impact that all will have on our players. You'd like to think there would be some things we would share that would be beneficial for them and they would respond to it appropriately, but they're still only 18-years-old. It remains to be seen."

It will be a tough atmosphere at Memorial Stadium, where the Wildcats have won only twice since 1968.

But Snyder was more successful against the Cornhuskers than any North coach in the latter stages of his first stint at KSU, which ended with his retirement after the 2005 season. He beat Nebraska en route to every one of his previous title game appearances, including a 2003 blowout in Lincoln.

And is his first season back after his three-season sabbatical, he can do the same thing with another victory over the Cornhuskers.

"We've certainly been in this position before in a lot of different ways," said Snyder, who is 5-3 against Nebraska since 1998. "But by the same token, I can't remember other than in the early years when playing against a Nebraska team was not a great challenge. Certainly there were key ballgames after those initial years in which they beat us so soundly."

The Wildcats have been a resilient bunch all season. They responded to a blowout loss at Texas Tech with a blowout home victory over Texas A&M the following week. And they rebounded after an earlier loss to Oklahoma with a strong home victory against Kansas.

Both of those previous bounce-back victories were at home. But those experiences have steeled this team for what it can accomplish with another victory Saturday in Lincoln.

“We still have a chance to do something special. This is a great opportunity for our football team,” senior offensive tackle Nick Stringer said. “We didn’t play very well last week and you can’t forget about it. But if we take something away from it and improve, we’ve got a great shot to surprise some people."

SPONSORED HEADLINES