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Maxwell Pundit: Week Four

Many thanks to fellow SB Nation blogger Rakes of Mallow for inviting me to participate in the Maxwell Pundit voting, an award bestowed by bloggers upon the nation's best college football player.  First a disclaimer:  The Tennessee Volunteers have opened the 2006 season with four straight home games, which is both a blessing and a curse.  The one of the three I did not actually make the trek to Knoxville to attend I missed because I was, uh, otherwise disposed.  For home games, the day is pretty much shot, and so I've seen a total of about 6.75 games this season, including the Vols' four.

Not having had much of an opportunity yet this season to see many other teams play, I had to resort to the cold, hard numbers, and so my ballot may either appear, or actually be, skewed.  No matter what you might have heard, numbers can, in fact, lie.

  1. and 2.  Garrett Wolfe and Adrian Peterson.  Wolfe, Northern Illinois' feature running back has rushed 96 times for 828 yards and eight TDs.  That's an average of 8.63 per carry and 207 per game, and it ranks 1st in the nation.  Peterson, who's rushed 117 times for 643 yards and seven TDs (an average of 5.5 per carry and 161 per game), is right behind him.  There's a pretty strong case for making Peterson the No. 1 here, especially considering that he's had to shoulder the load due to Brett/Rhett Bomar/Romar being run out of town.  I originally had Peterson over Wolfe, thinking that Wolfe's just been running against weaker opponents, but I had to revise my draft when I learned that Wolfe had a solid 171 against Ohio State.
  2.  Chris Leak.  Florida's senior signal-caller is one of only three QBs with over 1,000 yards passing already this season (1,066) and an efficiency rating of 165 or better, the other two being Pittsburgh's Tyler Palko (1,140) and Tennessee's Erik Ainge (1,065).  Leak has 12 TDs, compared to 12 for Palko and eight for Ainge, and has an efficiency rating of 173.8, compared to Palko's 187.3 and Ainge's 165.9.  While both Leak and Palko are 1st in their respective conferences, I went with Leak's 1st in the SEC over Palko's 1st in the Big East.  What about Troy Smith, you say?  Well, I just didn't see it in the numbers.  Smith has 884 passing yards, eight TDs, and an efficiency rating of 159.9.  Not too shabby, especially with his team placing 2nd in the Big 10 and 28th nationally in passing, but going strictly by his numbers, they just don't seem to measure up to Leak's, Palko's, or even Ainge's at this point.
  3.  LSU defensive back Jonathan Zenon.  Who?  Well, I thought that defensive players were a tad under-represented so I went looking for somebody with some good numbers.  Here was my thought process: the SEC is widely regarded as the best defensive league.  LSU is currently 1st in total defense in the SEC.  While this achievement is truly a team effort (lineman Tyson Jackson is 2nd in the SEC and 12th nationally with 3.5 sacks, and lineman Glenn Dorsey is 4th in the SEC and 29th nationally with six tackles for a loss), both defensive back Craig Steltz and Zenon are tied for 1st in the SEC and 8th nationally with three interceptions each.  I gave the nod to Zenon because he also has two TDs and may have had more return yards than Stelz but for the fact you don't get to count yards after you hit the end zone.
  4.  At the risk of getting kicked out of the voting pool my first week out . . . Tennessee punter Britton Colquitt.  As I said earlier this week, the Colquitts, if they were horses, would be owned by some Saudi Arabian prince.  (For non-Tennessee fans, the Colquitt punting legacy began with Craig (1975-1977), and continued with Jimmy (1981-1984), and Dustin (2001-2004).  The yearling Britton's first punt this past week against Marshall was for a solid 46 yards, and it was downed at the Marshall eight yard line.  His second was 63 yards, and it, too, was downed at the Marshall eight.  Britton's third effort was the best of the night: a 59 yard punt that was downed at the Marshall two yard line.  Three punts for an average of 56 yards per.  All inside the ten, one inside the five.  None of them were returned.
Also considered: Mario Manningham, James Laurinaitis, and Calvin Johnson.  Johnson must have some freaky moves or something that aren't showing up in the numbers (19 receptions for 311 yards and 5 TDs).  Okay, so they're good numbers, good enough in fact for 1st in the ACC and 34th nationally, but isn't the ACC home to Clemson, Florida State, and Miami?  Of course, while those teams are a bit suspect this year, their defenses are likely not, so perhaps there's substance behind this hype.  I will be sure to check him out.