Brady Quinn, Tom Zbikowski Semi-Finalists for O’Brien, Thorpe Awards

( – Notre Dame seniors Brady Quinn and Tom Zbikowski have both been named finalists for a couple of post season awards this week.  Quinn, Notre Dame’s starting quarterback the past four seasons, was named one of 18 semi-finalists for the Davey O’Brien Award.  Zbikowski, a starting safety for the past three seasons meanwhile was named a semi-finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award.

The Davey O’Brien Award is given out annually the nation’s best quarterback in the country as determined by the Davey O’Brien Foundation.  Quinn, a finalist last year, lost the award to Texas quarterback Vince Young.  This year Quinn has put up some more impressive numbers and now owns 35 different Notre Dame records, most of which have been set over the last two seasons.

This season all Quinn has done is throw 25 touchdown passes to just four interceptions in nine games.  He’s completeng 63.6% of his passes and thrown for 2,579 yards while becoming the 32nd quarterback in NCAA history to pass for over 10,000 career yards.

Quinn has also added a couple fourth quarter comebacks to his resume which was capped off by a dramatic three play drive against UCLA in the final minute ending with a 45 yard touchdown pass to Jeff Samardzija.

After losing the award last year to Young, Quinn should have an excellent chance of winning it this year.  Fellow semi-finalists include Erik Ainge (Tennessee, Jr), John Beck (BYU, Sr), John David Booty (USC, Jr), Colt Brennan (Hawai’i, Jr), Brian Brohm (Louisville, Jr), Chad Henne (Michigan, Jr), Kevin Kolb (Houston, Sr), Chris Leak (Florida, Sr),  Nate Longshore (California, So), Colt McCoy (Texas, Fr), Tyler Palko (Pittsburgh, Sr), Bobby Reid (Oklahoma State So), JaMarcus Russell (LSU, Jr), Troy Smith (Ohio State, Sr), John Stocco (Wisconsin, Sr), Pat White (West Virginia, So), and Jared Zabransky (Boise State, Sr).

Quinn and Smith are almost assured to be finalists, but the third finalist is anyone’s guess.  The award, like the Heisman, will come down, however, to Quinn and Smith.  Quinn will have better numbers and is the better pure quarterback, after Vince Young won the award, Smith certainly could win this year even if Quinn has better numbers.  Still, I think Quinn walks away with this one this year.

The Jim Thorpe award is given out annually to the nation’s best defensive back as  determined by the Jim Thorpe Award Screening Committee. Zbikowski is also in the midst of a pretty good season.  The senior from Illinois has accumulated 59 tackles in eight games (missing one due to injury) which is good enough for second on the team behind middle linebacker Maurice Crum.

Ironically enough, Zbikowski is nominated for an award given to the nation’s best defensive back, but he has yet to record and interception this year.  He does, however, have two returns for a touchdown – a fumble against Penn State and a punt against North Carolina.  Other semi-finalists include: Antoine Cason (Arizona, Jr), Leon Hall (Michigan, Sr), Daymeion Hughes (Calfornia, Sr), LaRon Landry (LSU, Sr),
Marcus McCauley (Fresno State, Sr), Reggie Nelson (Florida, Jr), Darrelle Revis (Pittsburgh, Jr), Aaron Ross (Texas, Sr), Antonio Smith (Ohio State, Sr), Eric Weddle (Utah, Sr).

Both award winners will be announced December 7 on ESPN’s Home Depot College Football Award Show.

The Thorpe Award’s criteria is a combination of performance on the field, character, and athletic ability and the list of 11 semi-finalists being reduced to three on November 20th with the finalists being invited to the Awards Show on ESPN.  The winner will then travel to Oklahoma City on February 12th for the official award presentation.

The O’Brien Award will announce its finalists a day later on November 21st.  The winner will be invited to the 30th Annual Davey O’Brien Award Dinner in Forth Worth, Texas on February 19th where he will be honored along with former Notre Dame great Paul Hornung, the foundations recipient of 2006 Davey O¹Brien Legends Award.

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