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Kirk Cousins goes undetected by national quarterback award early warning systems

UPDATE: Blogging research FAIL.  SpartyMC points out that only seniors are eligible for the Unitas Award, so we can take the OUTRAGE level down a couple notches.  Cousins' absence from the O'Brien list is still puzzling, though.  As LVS notes, his less-than-stellar season-ending performances against PSU and Texas Tech on national TV may be a factor.

The preseason watch lists for the two major college football quarterback awards--the Davey O'Brien Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award--have been released, and the Big Ten is well represented on both lists.  Terrelle Pryor, Ricky Stanzi, and Scott Tolzien are on the O'Brien list.  Stanzi, Tolzien, and Ben Chappell are on the Unitas list.

Conspicuous by his absence from both lists, to MSU fans at least, is Kirk Cousins.  That's particularly true when you look at the numbers for returning Big Ten starting quarterbacks:

Name Att Comp Pct. Yards Yds/Att Int TD Rating
Ben Chappell 428 268 62.6 2,942 6.9 15 17 126.46
Scott Tolzien 328 211 64.3 2,705 8.2 11 16 142.99
Kirk Cousins 328 198 60.4 2,680 8.2 9 19 142.64
Adam Weber 367 191 52.0 2,582 7.0 15 13 114.65
Ricky Stanzi 304 171 56.3 2,417 8.0 15 17 131.62
Terrelle Pryor 294 166 56.5 2,087 7.1 11 18 128.81
Tate Forcier 281 165 58.7 2,050 7.3 10 13 128.15

Despite giving up snaps to Keith Nichol for much of the season and missing a full game due to injury, Cousins ranks third among returning quarterbacks in total passing yards (note that Stanzi would rank higher if not for missing two and a half games to injury).  In terms of rate statistics, Cousins ranks first in TD-interception ratio, is tied for first in yards per attempt, and ranks just behind Tolzien in passer rating.

You can chalk Pryor's appearance on the O'Brien list to to a combination of Ohio State being a national championship contender and his spectacular running ability (779 rushing yards).  Stanzi also plays for a team coming off a BCS game appearance and has a reputation for initating big plays (albeit many of them have been big plays for opposing defensive backs).  But Tolzien is much more of a game manager (attempting the same number of passes as Cousins despite being the full-time starter for the full season), and Chappell's yardage numbers were mainly a function of Indiana playing from behind most of the season.  I have to believe that most neutral observers of Big Ten football would agree that Cousins is a solid bet to be the top performing passer in the league this season.

On a national basis, Cousins has the following rankings among returning FBS quarterbacks:

  • 25th in passing yards.
  • 10th in yards/attempt
  • 18th in TD passes
  • 11th in passer rating

I can't comment on the full national watch lists in an informed manner (except to say that the names "Dwight Dasher" and "Tom Savage" sound made up), but you'd think those statistical rankings would be enough to make a list of the top 21 (Unitas) or 30 (O'Brien) quarterbacks in the country.

Needless to say, we are OUTRAGED!  Well, not really.  Preseason watch lists exist solely to draw attention to the existence of the awards for which the lists are issued; appearing on the watch list isn't even a requirement to win the award.  If Cousins performs as well as we expect him to, with the starter's job clearly his going into the first game and a talented and deep group of receivers to throw to, he'll get more than enough attention over the course of the season.  Given the way seasons in which MSU players have been hyped early for national awards (Charles Rogers in 2002, Drew Stanton 2006), it's probably better to keep the focus on team goals, anyway.