ATQ Editors Announce 2008 Post-Season Football Awards

Well, it's over. It's done. Florida is our national champ. Congrats to them. The BCS leaves us with yet another raging debate. Utah, USC, Texas, playoffs, +1, +2, flip a coin, or spin the bottle.

A fantastic Oregon football season is behind us. Time to hand out some ATQ post-season "hardware".

I created a handful of award categories, chose some appropriate nominees then asked jtlight, ntrebon, dvieira and PaulSF to join me in voting for the winners. All our 2008 Ducks are winners in my book. Here are guys we think deserve to be called the best of the best:

Offensive Player of the Year
Nominees: QB Jeremiah Masoli, RB Jeremiah Johnson, RB LeGarrette Blount, C Max Unger.

Winner: Max Unger
Runner Up: LeGarrette Blount

How many times in our lives will we see a guy like Max Unger come along. He started all 51 games he played in at Oregon and won more national, conference and team awards than I'm willing to list. This quote from Scout.com says it pretty well. "The four-year starter was one of the keys to success for an Oregon offense that ranks fourth in the country in rushing (277.9-yard avg.), seventh in scoring (41.9 avg.) and eighth in total offense (478.2 avg.). The team captain and three-time Ed Moshofsky Award recipient as the Ducks' most outstanding offensive lineman did not allow a quarterback sack in 928 snaps this season, as well as put defenders on their backs 74 times."

Defensive Player of the Year
Nominees: FS T.J. Ward, DE Nick Reed, CB Jairus Byrd, LB Spencer Paysinger.

Winner: Nick Reed
Runner Up: unanimous winner

Nick Reed defined "impact player" during his career at Oregon. His numbers in 2008 were again gaudy: 53 tackles, 20 tackles for-a-loss, 13 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries. Nick was a two-time first-team All Pac-10 player, a first-team All-American and the Pac-10's 2008 Morris Trophy winner as the top defensive lineman. Quarterbacks and left tackles throughout the Pac-10 are happy to see Nick go. We are not.

Special Teams Player of the Year
Nominees: P Josh Syria, PR Jairus Byrd, KR Walter Thurmond, K Morgan Flint.

Winner: Josh Syria
Runner Up: unanimous winner

In 2007 Josh Syria was an honorable mention All Pac-10 punter with a nice 41.7 yards per punt average. How did he follow that up as a senior in '08? He increased that average to 42.5 yards, had 12 punts of more than 50 yards, and put Ducks' opponents inside their own 20 yard line 17 times and had ZERO blocks. Did we realize how spoiled we were with this guy?

Newcomer of the Year
Nominees: QB Jeremiah Masoli, RB LeGarrette Blount.

Winner: Jeremiah Masoli
Runner Up: unanimous winner

Not bad for a guy that came in this fall as somewhere between the #3 and #5 guy on the depth chart. Jeremiah overcame a steep learning curve, a cheap shot against Boise State, another cheap shot from a few under-appreciative Oregon fans...and late in the season he put it all together. When his passing game finally caught up with his running ability and mastery of Oregon's spread, everything clicked. The final stats are worth a second look. How about 1744 passing yards and 13 touchdowns through the air? Add to that 851 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. His heart is the size of the Big Island, his potential in Chip Kelly's system may be larger.

Freshman of the Year
Nominees: QB/WR Chris Harper, QB Darron Thomas, CB Javes Lewis.

Winner: Chris Harper
Runner up: unanimous winner

Amazing, amazing athlete. Rumors at this point are just that. We all hope Chris Harper is staying at Oregon. The opportunities for him to shine in Oregon's offense are nearly endless. Harper did a little bit of everything his first year ultimately finishing with 137 yards rushing, 122 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Every time he touched the ball most of us held our breath...and yes, I mean that in a good way.

Most Improved Player
Nominees: P Josh Syria, FS T.J. Ward, WR Terence Scott, LB Spencer Paysinger.

Winner: Terence Scott
Runner Up: Spencer Paysinger

It's a shame Oregon had to burn Terence Scott's redshirt year in 2007 due to injuries at wide receiver. But he made the most of his senior year. Scott earned honorable mention on the All Pac-10 team after making 50 catches for 751 yards and five touchdowns, plus 128 rushing yards and one rushing TD. He caught our eye with his 60-yard touchdown early against Washington and it seemed like it was big play after big play all season long.

Position Coach of the Year
Nominees: Gary Campbell - running backs, Michael Gray - defensive line, Steve Greatwood - offensive line, Chip Kelly - quarterbacks, John Neal - secondary.

Winner: Steve Greatwood
Runner Up: Michael Gray, Chip Kelly

You don't finish top-five in the nation in rushing without outstanding line play. Maybe it's just me, but it feels like Greatwood is starting to develop a real pipeline of great linemen. The Ducks will replace three seniors up front next year, yet almost no one is concerned about it. Credit to Steve Greatwood. And...The Civil War must have been especially gratifying for the Ducks line coach. It was Greatwood who called the field goal team on to the field at the end of regulation of the 2007 Civil War, confusing Justin Roper and ultimately contributing to a botched attempt at a makeable winning field goal. Prior to the 2008 Civil War, Greatwood told Oregonian reporter John Hunt, "It was a mistake that I made, and I've had to live with that for a year." That demon, my friends, is officially put to rest.

Big Play of the Year
Nominees:
- JJ runs 83 yards for a second quarter TD that blows open the 2008 Civil War.
- Jaison Williams gives the Ducks a Holiday Bowl lead with a great 20-yard touchdown reception.
- LeGarrette Blount scores from 3 yards out with 6 seconds left and the Ducks hold off Stanford 35-28 at Autzen.
- LeGarrette Blount's 3-yard touchdown in overtime gives the Ducks a crucial come-from-behind road win, 32-26 at Purdue.
- LeGarrette Blount busts a 69-yard touchdown run with just over 2 minutes left to put Oregon's home game against UCLA out of reach.

Winner: Jeremiah Johnson's 83-yard touchdown against the Beavers.
Runner Up: unanimous winner

If LeGarrette Blount was the Ducks finisher this season, Jeremiah Johnson was the spark that got it all going. How many times did JJ rip off a big run early in a game? We've seen lots of great backs come through Oregon's program over the years. Any more exciting to watch than JJ? When it was over, Johnson finished the year with 1252 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns and a spot on the second-team All Pac-10 team. I ask you, what was better, LeGarrette's hurdles or Jeremiah's never breaking stride and re-gathering the ball after a Beaver knocks it free during his long TD run? Jeremiah was flat out amazing.

Big Performance of the Year
Nominees:
- Jeremiah Masoli overcomes a poor passing night (5-19, 42 yards) and beats the Bruins with his legs. He totals 170 yards rushing, with a 5-yard touchdown, and he makes Bruin defenders look silly in the open field over, and over and over again.
- LeGarrette Blount rumbles for 132 yards on just 12 carries in his ABC debut at Purdue. He ties the game with a 69-yard touchdown in the third quarter then brings home the win from three yards out in OT.
- Oregon's entire offense dominates the 2008 Civil War. The list of heroes is long: JJ goes for 219 and a TD, Blount adds 112 and one score. Masoli not only runs for 53 yards and a TD, he dominates the Beavers through the air on 11 of 17 for 274 yards and three touchdowns. The Ducks overwhelm their rivals 65-38, throwing up 694 yards of total offense and ZERO turnovers.
- Jeremiah Masoli (aka QB Chip Douglas) introduces himself to more than one under-educated Oklahoma State fan. He directs the offense to near perfection in the second half and the Cowboys have no answer for the Ducks running game. Masoli runs for 106 yards and three touchdowns, and isn't too shabby through the air with 258 passing yards and one touchdown.

Winner: Oregon's offense dominates the 2008 Civil War
Runner Up: unanimous winner

Anyone else still pinching themselves? Still got the goose bumps over the way the Ducks finished the 2008 season? I know buthol is serious about his crush on LaGarrett Blount. He and I were hanging out before that very wet Stanford game and I believe we witnessed it all come together on that last game-winning drive. It's probably the only time in my life I've enjoyed being soaked through to my boxers. The confidence that was derived by pounding the ball down the field and jamming it in the end zone - rather than settling for a short a field goal - was priceless. From that moment on, Oregon's offense was close to an unstopable machine. The Civil War was the culmination of what must have been a tireless effort on the part of Chip Kelly, Jeremiah Masoli and the entire Ducks offense group. 694 - a number which will live in infamy (at least for Beaver Nation).

Nice season Ducks. Thank you.

Thoughts? Quibbles? Addendums? Tirades? Come on ATQers, share your favorite memories and thoughts on the 2008 football season.

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