We are halfway through the 2012 season (went by quick), which raises an interesting question.
Who is an All-Sun Belt level player for UNT at this point? And who are the top players in the league?
Disclaimer — It’s hard to tell from UNT’s end at this point because the Mean Green has been whacked by LSU, beaten by Kansas State and also lost to Houston (after the Cougars figured it out). UNT did buy a win by scheduling Texas Southern and also beat a terrible Florida Atlantic team at home.
Still, the schedule has not been conducive to putting up impressive numbers.
At this point, UNT’s best bet had to be Zach Orr. The junior ranks second in the Sun Belt in tackles with an average of 9.3 a game. He doesn’t have the big-play stats with just one interception and one quarterback hurry, but he does have the respect of coaches and writers who vote at the end of the year. He has a track record.
One could make a case for K.C. Obi at defensive end since he ranks third in the league with 3.5 sacks. Obi also ranks ninth in tackles for loss at .83 a game.
UNT should also have an offensive lineman make the cut. I just have no idea who it would be at this point. Those guys are hard to judge if you are covering a game, writing for the paper, chatting live and trying to keep a play-by-play sheet going.
Brelan Chancellor might have a case at wide receiver, but ranks only fifth in the league in receiving yards per game (72.2) and isn’t in the top 10 in receptions a game. Brent Leonard of Louisiana-Monroe, J.D. McKissic of Arkansas State, Anthony Amos of Middle Tennessee and Chip Reeves of Troy all have better stats.
Not everyone has reached the midpoint (six games) of their year in the Sun Belt, but since UNT has, the mid-year leaders for the conference superlatives right now have to be:
MVP — Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Kolton Browning
No player has done more to put his team and the Sun Belt on the map this season. He leads the Sun Belt in total offense at 338.4 yards a game. That touchdown run against Arkansas is the play of the year in the league.
Offensive Player of the Year — Western Kentucky running back Antonio Andrews
WKU is 4-1, thanks in large part to Andrews, who leads the league with an average of 108.4 rushing yards a game. One could make a case for Middle Tennessee running back Benny Cunningham as well. He has nine touchdowns. Troy quarterback Corey Robinson, who leads the league with an average of 301.8 passing yards a game, also has to be up there.
Defensive Player of the Year — Western Kentucky defensive lineman Quanterus Smith
The Sun Belt’s “Ambassador of Quan” leads the league in sacks (1.62 per game), tackles for loss (2.38 a game) posted three sacks in a loss to No. 1 Alabama. Smith is about as clear cut a choice as you are ever going to run across.
Coach of the Year – Louisiana-Monroe’s Todd Berry
Ok, raise your hand if you have any idea how Berry has built what looks like a really good team with what he has to work with in Monroe, La.
The guy has a win over nationally ranked Arkansas, took Auburn to overtime, gave Baylor a scare and has his team on course to get to a bowl game at 3-2. All ULM has to do the rest of the way is win the games it’s supposed to in order to get it done. If ULM does go bowling, the Coach of the Year award is the least Berry should get. They ought to erect a statue of the guy in Monroe if the Warhawks get it done.