Yesterday we touched on who the Bearcats offensive MVP for the season was, and it's only fair to touch on who the best defender was. There are 5 candidates, and all of them have earned it. There is also a special award after the defensive MVP, so stick around Sally. Let's get to the footballing.
JK Schaffer led the Bearcats in tackles with 111. JK made 9.5 of those stops behind the line of scrimmage. Of those 9.5, 3 were sacks. Schaffer had 1 INT, in the Oklahoma game. He forced a pair of fumbles. He also had 5 passes broken up, and 6 passes defended. His best games showcased 16 tackles against NC State and West Virginia, 13 tackles and an INT against Oklahoma, 10 tackles against Pitt, 9 tackles at UConn, and Indiana State, 9 tackles, 2 sacks against Rutgers, and 9 tackles and a sack against Syracuse. If there was someone that needed to be tackled, JK Schaffer got on it.
Downside: JK isn't exactly known for his coverage skills. His talent level isn't exactly up to his motor level, which isn't meant as a knock. He doesn't have as much talent as, say Lawrence Wilson, but he makes up for it with his determination. He gets the most out of everything.
Defensive end Brandon Mills was the terror in the backfield for opposing defenses. Mills had 58 stops on the season. 12.5 of those were tackles for loss, leading UC. He had 6 sacks, which led UC. He also had 3 forced fumbles. Guess what? That led UC. Mills earned a Big East player of the week honor with his 10.5 tackle, 3 sack, 5.5 TFL performance against Rutgers. He had 8 tackles against Pitt, 2 sacks against UConn, 7 tackles against WVU and USF, and his first sack came against Louisville. Once the light turned on, Mills was unstoppable. Hopefully it transfers into next season.
Downside: The light turned on, but it turned on a bit late for Brandon. He was awfully quiet early in the season. He surged in tackles as the season progressed, something I noticed in the write ups. I didn't see his Rutgers game coming. Neither did Rutgers.
Reuben Johnson is one of my favorite Bearcats yes, but he was also the staple of the secondary. Johnson finished third on the team in tackles, with 62. He had 3 tackles for loss. Reuben intercepted one pass, and had a sack. Both came against Syracuse. Johnson tied JK Schaffer for the team leads in passes broken up and passes defended. RJ as I call him, was second on the team in solo tackles, with 49. Johnson didn't really get picked on a whole lot, especially once Dom Battle went down. Reuben had his best game against Syracuse with the sack and the INT. He also had another TFL in that game. His high in tackles came against Louisville, when he had 11. He had 9 against WVU, 8 against Fresno and OU, 6 against USF, and a TFL against Pitt.
Downside: Johnson played in the really awful UC secondary. It wasn't Johnson's fault. His tackles went down as the second progressed because people stopped throwing at him. There were much easier parts of the UC secondary to navigate. The picture makes it seem like he's about to commit pass interference. That's a negative.
Maalik Bomar busted out on the scene this season. Some people didn't think he would be a starter, but Bomar earned a spot, and then took it over. Bomar racked up 70 tackles, which was second on the team. He had 8 tackles for loss, tied for third. 2 of those TFL were sacks. He also forced a pair of fumbles. Everyone who watched the Bearcats early in the year raved about Bomar. DeJuan Gossett especially, back in the days he returned my emails. He started the season with 5 tackles and a TFL against Fresno. His best game was a 10 tackle, 1 TFL performance against OU. Bomar had 11 tackles in the UConn loss. He had 8 stops and a forced fumble against NC State. Bomar had 6 tackles against USF. He had sacks against Rutgers and Indiana State as well.
Downside: It seemed like teams keyed in on Bomar as the season progressed. His numbers really took a tumble. When forced into coverage, he was pretty average. That's to be expected with a first year starter. I have complete faith Bomar will be strong all 13 games next season. Yeah, I am assuming a bowl game, thank you very much.
Stewart was the blitzing linebacker in UC's schemes this season, but that didn't stop him from finishing fourth on the team with 60 tackles. Stewart tied with Bomar with 8 tackles for loss. Walter had 2 sacks on the season, one of them is pictured. To be honest, I just wanted a fifth person. I don't really want to look up Walter's numbers, no disrespect. I will anyway, because now I feel bad. Walter had a monster game against Syracuse, with 13 tackles, one of them for a loss. He had a 9 tackle, 2 TFL game against Louisville. He tackled 7 against WVU, and 6 with a TFL against USF. Stewart also had 6 tackles against NC State. His other sack came against Miami, and he forced a fumble against Pitt.
Downside: Walter had a very solid season, but didn't really stand out in many games. He had 2 huge ones, and that was a third of his tackling total. That's not how you earn a made up defensive MVP for a dumb blog.
JK Schaffer. JK was there for the Bearcats all season. He led the team in tackles. He was the only Bearcat defense man named to the All Big East team. He did the big things, he did the small things, he did all things. Congrats to JK on this honor. I'm pretty sure he shed a tear.
There is another award I want to give out. That award is for the best Bearcat football player who follows the blog on twitter. The candidates are:
The winner is:
all of them. Those 4 Bearcats are the smartest Bearcats on the team. They know where to get their Bearcat fix, and that's through the Bearcats Blog twitter. They all are nice people. None of them play the stupid twitter games, which I hate. Reuben actually made fun of Isaiah Pead for playing the number game. I posed this question this question on twitter. Reuben said who do you think. Goebel had no comment. When told he won for offensive player, he was very honored. Probably sarcastically, but honored nonetheless. I'm glad I could make his day happier. I have to admit, the coolest moment of the season came when Reuben Johnson shouted me out after the Louisville game. It was fucking awesome. I've talked to him a few times about things. John Goebel I've talked to a lot recently. He seems like a down to earth guy. I did get the chance to tell him how awesome his profile picture was. Now, he has short hair. He probably would have won tweeter of the year if he kept the long stuff. I can't speak much for Pat Lambert or Mr. Thompson. Mainly because they never tweet, and neither has tweeted me. I think the blog is followed by a couple of Bearcat baseball players. No basketball players though. That's sad. The new goal is to get Dion Dixon to follow me on twitter. Everyone needs to tweet him about this pronto.
Thanks to everyone who follows me on twitter. Thanks for following the tweets this football season. The football coverage is probably done for the year. It wasn't the season that we all expected. But, we got through it together, which is the important thing. Now we turn our attention to basketball full time. Look for an Oklahoma preview this afternoon. Thanks for reading friends.