We've had a couple weeks to digest (and forget about) the unfortunate happenings in the 4th quarter of the Cotton Bowl so it's time to celebrate another Big 12 championship season. As we did after last season, we got the staff writers together to vote on the greatest and best that the 2014 Baylor football season had to offer. So without further adieu, here's how we voted.
The 2014 Our Daily Bears Awards
Team MVP: QB Bryce Petty
After a ridiculous debut performance in 2013, there were expectations on Bryce Petty coming into this season that arguably have never been seen before by a Baylor quarterback. And while his overall numbers didn't quite match up with what he put up in 2013, Petty came up huge almost every time Baylor needed him in 2014. He was at his best at the end of the season, completing almost 74% of his passes and averaging over 364 yards passing from the Oklahoma game through the Cotton Bowl. All told, Bryce Petty was 22-4 as the starting QB at Baylor, winning as many conference championships (2) as he lost conference games. That's the sign of a great quarterback and also a great leader. That's why he was our unanimous choice for MVP. And way back at the beginning of the season, he also hurdled a guy and that was fun:
Offensive Player of the Year: WR Corey Coleman
Corey Coleman was simply spectacular in 2014 and earns our offensive player of the year award, racking up 1119 yards and 11 touchdowns in his sophomore season. Oh, and he missed the first 3 games of the season. Coleman was lethal in creating big plays downfield but also made some huge contributions in the short passing game, downfield blocking, and even had 11 carries out of the backfield. Corey was at his best in Norman with a 15 catch, 224 yard, 2 TD performance in Baylor's 48-14 win. Although he'll have a new quarterback delivering the ball next season, Corey Coleman should be even better in 2015.
Other Nominees: Bryce Petty
Defensive Player of the Year: DT Andrew Billings
Art Briles said multiple times before the season that Baylor would have one of the best defensive lines in America. The guy who anchored that unit over the course of the season was Andrew Billings on the interior of the line. Billings commanded a double team more often than not, but still was able to toss offensive linemen around like rag dolls and wreck havoc in the opponent's backfield. Although other players on the team had better defensive stats, it was often Billings' impact that allowed for those around him to finish the play. We'll see more of Mr. Billings below.
Other Nominees: Shawn Oakman, Bryce Hager
Special Teams Player of the Year: P Spencer Roth
Spencer Roth's contributions often went unappreciated because 1) he is a punter, and 2) people are always grumpy when the punter is on the field. But when he was called upon, Roth executed his role extremely well, averaging 43.4 yards per punt and pinning the opponent inside the 20 yard line on 19 occasions. And although his 10 kicks of over 50 yards would indicate that had a lot of success as a punter, maybe he missed his calling as a running back:
Other Nominees: Chris Callahan, Silas Nacita
Offensive Lineman of the Year: LT Spencer Drango
The only other unanimous selection besides Petty's MVP award was Spencer Drango as the offensive lineman of the year. A first team AP All-American selection will do that for you. Drango anchored another solid offensive line under Art Briles, especially in pass protection in protecting Bryce Petty's blind side at left tackle. Drango was also consistently atop the Trench Warfare ratings in the weekly posts that Hammer did throughout the season.
Defensive Lineman of the Year: DT Andrew Billings
You read about Billings earlier but his contributions to the defensive front were enough to secure him the defensive lineman of the year award as well.
Other Nominees: Shawn Oakman
Best Moment: Chris Callahan Game-Winning Kick vs. TCU
It was the signature moment in the signature game of not just Baylor's season, but all of the 2014 college football season. It was "just" a 29 yard field goal that Chris Callahan put through the uprights but it was the culmination of an incredible 4th quarter comeback by the Bears that had an effect on the national college football landscape. It was impactful enough that our friends over at Sic 'Em Sports Productions put this compilation together to commemorate "The Kick".
Other Nominees: First drive of 2nd half vs. Oklahoma, College Gameday in Waco, Big 12 championship trophy presentation
Best Offensive Play: The McMountain. Cotton Bowl vs. Michigan State
Yes, I know we ended up losing this game but let's face it: this was the fat guy touchdown against which all fat guy touchdowns shall be measured from this point forward. This was a wonderfully designed play by newly named offensive coordinator Kendal Briles to get a 6-8, 390 pound playmaker the ball in space. I still get a chuckle out of watching this and so should you.
Other Nominees: Antwan Goodley 4th quarter TD vs. TCU, Corey Coleman game-tying TD vs. TCU, Goodley TD with Coleman block vs. West Virginia
Best Defensive Play: Andrew Billings Chase-Down vs. Kansas
It's not often that the defensive play of the year happens on a play where the opponent gains 36 yards on a screen pass but this was a special exception. It might take one or two looks at the replay to realize that Kansas' running back was chased down from behind by a 300 POUND DEFENSIVE TACKLE. This was an unbelievable play by Billings to hustle 40 yards downfield to make this play and it also displayed the unique athletic ability that he has at his size.
Other Nominees: Ryan Reid 4th down pass breakup vs. TCU, Bryce Hager interception vs. Oklahoma, Xavien Howard interception vs. Kansas State
Breakout Player: WR KD Cannon
Heading into the season, many in Baylor Nation were excited about the prospects of KD Cannon being an impact player in the Baylor offense as a true freshman. All he did in his first semester of college football was rack up 58 receptions, 1030 yards and 8 touchdowns. Cannon really helped to carry the Bears through an early part of the season where there were several injuries in the receiving core. At times, he was just going to get into the end zone and there wasn't a darn thing you were gonna do about it.
Other Nominees: Taylor Young, Corey Coleman, Orion Stewart
Most Improved: RT Pat Colbert
Pat Colbert's struggles were well documented when he was forced to fill in for an injured Spencer Drango late in the 2013 season. So when Troy Baker went down with a torn ACL in late October, Colbert was again pressed into duty as a starter for the remainder of the season. But this season, Colbert really showed a vast improvement in both his run blocking and especially his pass blocking at right tackle. Art Briles likes to preach the "Next Man Up" mantra when a key player gets hurt and someone else has to fill that role. Pat Colbert must have made his head coach proud in 2014.
Other Nominees: Andrew Billings, Chris Callahan, Jay Lee
Unsung Hero: LB Taylor Young
Taylor Young's contributions to the linebacking core became more noticed towards the end of the season but he was a playmaker throughout the year for the Baylor defense, in route to being named a FWAA Freshman All-American along with teammate KD Cannon. Young was second on the defense with 92 total tackles and helped create turnovers for the defense as well. He should step into a leadership role at linebacker next season with the departures of Bryce Hager and Collin Brence. Taylor Young may be a household name at Baylor when all is said and done.
Other Nominees: K.J. Smith, Jarell Broxton, Collin Brence
It's Your Turn!
Now let's have a little fun and we're going to reach out to the ODB community on this one. In the comments, give us your favorites from the following:
1) Best Art Briles Quote
2) Best College Gameday Sign from December 6th
3) Best Shawn Oakman Meme