Any time you play against a team as good as Oregon, it takes standout performances from several people in order to give yourself a chance to win. The Cougars were up to the challenge Saturday, and many had their best game of the season. Even though the team came up agonizingly short, the score would not have been as close as it was had a few guys not stepped their games up significantly. For the first time this season, a legitimate argument could be made for more than one defensive player.
I don't think it's a stretch to say that Darryl Monroe had his best game of the season. I haven't re-watched the game, but I don't recall any of the whiff tackles that have plagued him this season. Jeremiah Allison also played well, sharing the team lead in tackles with Monroe. The best part is that the top three tacklers (Allison, Monroe and Coen) were all linebackers, and not safeties or corners. On to the candidates.
2nd Runner-Up: Xavier Cooper
Any time you're able to tally seven sacks against a quarterback as mobile as Marcus Mariota, the defensive line is significantly impacting the action. This is more of a unit award, but we're recognizing Cooper here because he is the clear leader of the group. The defensive line also held Oregon more than 50 yards below its season rushing average. They played inspired football, and Cooper led the charge.
1st Runner-Up: River Cracraft
As I was watching the game late Saturday, Cracraft was the first guy I thought of when I was trying to determine the top player this week. The guy is just an all-around great receiver, and he's a true sophomore. He is always in the right place, and he has excellent hands. If you pin Halliday down and ask him who his most dependable receiver is, I bet he will tell you it's Cracraft. If he keeps improving, he will be a pro. He was the only receiver to top 100 yards, and that doesn't count the magnificent catch he made along the sideline, which the Pac-12 refs ruled incomplete. Because of course they did.
Winner: Connor Halliday
Halliday played an excellent game Saturday. He made quick decisions, he was dropping passes in miniscule windows, and he didn't make any killer mistakes. The fade pass he made to Dom WIlliams, Williams' second touchdown, was an outstanding throw. He eclipsed the 400 yard mark yet again, and racked up another four touchdowns. He also continues to be the torch bearer for the Solid Verbal's "in a losing effort" bit. I know we would all like to see that come to an end, but they're right. Even though WSU lost, Halliday had a great game.
Which Coug stood above the rest in your eyes?