GRASSY - With no dominating early season player like Antrel Rolle of a year ago, again picking a team MVP from this team is like throwing darts. The defense should be very good and able to control many game and keep the offense in it until they establish themselves as a unit. Though many are lookng to Kyle Wright as a savior, I look to the man protecting his back ... Eric Winston.
Winston (pictured right) sat out the majority of 2004 due to a serious knee injury and this is his last chance to wow NFL scouts and go out on a high note. Winston will be anchoring a solid offensive line, one that will need to seriously step up from the performance of the past two seasons. Winston is a leader and a warrior and I expect him to keep the offensive unit on track and if he does that he will be deserving of the team's MVP award.
BAKAS - Defense wins championships. Offense will put people in the seats and make more people watch you on TV but playing great defense is what wins in sports. However, anytime your team MVP plays on defense your offense probably isn't very good. If UM wants to return to their elite status, it's the offense that needs to step it up. I think it will and therefore the team MVP will come from that side of the ball.
At running back, I think you're looking at three kids who will share the carries -- Moss, Jones, and Thomas. Eric Winston has a chance to be one of the best tackles to ever play here. Same with Greg Olsen at tight end. UM has as much talent at receiver as anyone in the country. Who puts it all together?
That's right, Kyle Wright (pictured right). Again, he's my pick. He holds the keys. A large part of UM's offensive success rests squarely on his shoulders. I'm sure that's how he likes it. If he stays healthy and is given enough time, he can throw 35 touchdowns or more. One of the big reasons Ken Dorsey was so successful here is because he had a future NFL All-Pro team around him and his O-Line gave him enough time to eat a sandwich in the pocket. If Kyle gets anywhere close to what Dorsey had, forget about it. Turn out the lights on the opposition.
STOCK - There are a lot of guys who could be the most valuable player on the team. Is it the guy that holds the team together in tough times like an Eric Winston? Is it the guy running ball for tough first downs like Tyrone Moss or Derron Thomas? Or is it a guy on defense making numerous tackles like Greg Threat or Roger McIntosh? Or is it the quarterback leading the offense?
Those guys could be the most valuable player on the team. However, many of them are replaceable parts on the team filling roles this year. So my pick for the 2005 MVP is not a replaceable part. My MVP is someone that has rare talent and game-breaking ability. My MVP is Devin Hester.
Hester (pictured right) scored six touchdowns last year and five of them were on returns (3 punt, 1 kickoff, 1 fumble). His touchdown numbers are so amazing that he scored a touchdown every 7.5 times he touched the ball. And don't forget he also led the team in interceptions with four.
Some might point out the fact that Hester currently sits on the second-team as a cornerback. And? Miami will face numerous teams going three-wide, which will force the Hurricanes to play nickel and dime packages so make no mistake about it, Hester will be on the field. And don't rule out him winning a starting position either. Just because he gives up a little bit of space with his receiver doesn't mean he won't close the gap or bait quarterbacks into thinking their guy is open.
In regards to Hester, he is a flat out amazing player to watch. He can score from anywhere on the field and has the unique ability to turn it on when the game is on the line (i.e. blocked field goal against Florida State and a punt return against Louisville). The only thing that will hold Hester back is his playing time. If the coaches don't utilize his talents enough, then he will have very limited opportunities to make things happen.
Remember, big time players make big time plays in big time games.
And Hester is big time.
Bryan "Grassy" Knoll - OL Eric Winston
Mike Bakas - QB Kyle Wright
Christopher Stock - CB Devin Hester
Look for Question #5 tomorrow, August 26.