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Boise State football midseason awards

Otto Kitsinger III

The Boise State football season is halfway over, meaning we are either halfway to BCS riches and glory or halfway to triple deja vu in the Vegas Bowl (or worse). Who knows what the future holds; I can barely remember what the past held. With that in mind, here are my midseason awards for all that happened over the first half of the Boise State football season.

Offensive player of the midseason

Winner: D.J. Harper

Previous midseason and postseason offensive MVP awards were easy because, duh, Kellen Moore. This year, the Bronco offense has been one long character-building experience for players, coaches, and fans. Harper has reminded me of the old days more than any other Bronco offensive player, and that's good enough for me to give him the midseason MVP.

Others considered:

Defensive player of the midseason

Winner: Mike Atkinson

I thought long and hard about giving this award to Demarcus Lawrence, but then I figured that there will probably be tons of you who will be more than happy to sing Lawrence's praises (and decry my bad decision-making) in the comments. Lawrence gets the lion's share of attention on the Bronco defense, and deservedly so. But I believe that behind every superstar defensive end, there is a round Canadian defensive tackle chewing up double teams, setting the line of scrimmage two yards into the backfield, and chugging his way downfield on interception returns. Mike Atkinson is the fourth-leading tackler on the team, and he plays a position that basically exists underneath 700 pounds of other persons. The Bronco defense revolves around him, literally because he plays in the very middle of it and figuratively because I'm not sure it would be as effective without him stopping the run and the pass with one large squat.

Others considered:

  • Demarcus Lawrence
  • J.C. Percy
  • Jamar Taylor

Freshman of the midseason

Winner: Sam Ukwuachu

As the only freshman starter on defense (redshirt, but still), Ukwuachu has been a handful for teams whose hands are already full dealing with Demarcus Lawrence and Mike Atkinson. For someone who weighs less than most every opposing player on the offense, Ukwuachu has more than held his own. Now imagine this: Three Two more years of Lawrence and Ukwuachu together. Are you picturing all the sacks I'm picturing?

Others considered:

Play of the midseason

Winner: Mike Atkinson's pick six

It's not often that a Fat Guy Touchdown serves as the game-winning score - not to mention the winning team's only score. This category is easy for me. Give me a 300-pounder leaping to pick off a pass, sprinting toward the end zone, and hurdling a would-be tackler, and I'll give you a Play of the Year candidate. It helps when it's immortalized in LSUFreek gif form.


Others considered:

  • J.C. Percy's pass breakup on BYU's two-point try
  • Jeremy Ioane's pick-six versus Michigan State
  • D.J. Harper's sleight-of-hand inside reverse TD run versus Southern Miss
  • Matt Miller running over and through a Miami (OH) DB

Unsung hero of the midseason

Winner: Pete Kwiatkowski

Give that man a raise! Or, beat back the head-coach-hungry masses this offseason! Kwiatkowski has engineered a remarkable reloading job on the Boise State defense, beginning with his area of expertise - the defensive line - and continuing throughout the linebackers and secondary. What he has done is nothing short of amazing. Half of his previous team is on NFL practice fields right now.

Others considered:

  • Matt Paradis (the team's best blocker, according to the blocking coach)
  • Joe Southwick (better than he gets credit for)

Most pleasant surprise of the midseason

Winner: Jay Ajayi

I had steeled my nerves for Ajayi never fulfilling his enormous potential at Boise State, especially once newbies like Jack Fields and Devan Demas stepped onto campus. But Ajayi has been rock solid in the No. 2 spot in the Bronco backfield, and he has provided an element - bruising, downhill tackle-breaking - that is a rarity among Boise State's traditionally smaller, shiftier backs. To borrow a Canadian political chant: Three more years! Three more years! (They have three-year terms in Canada, right? That seems like a thing they would have.)

Others considered:

  • Bryan Douglas
  • Aaron Burks
  • Boise State still having a shot at the BCS

Biggest midseason curiosity

Winner: Goalline struggles

I don't believe the Bronco coaching staff is short on ideas on how to score from the one-yard line, but I do wonder how long it will take to find an idea that works.

Others considered:

  • Red zone struggles
  • Whatever that BYU game was
  • Trevor Harman's purposefully weird punting
  • Boise's irrational love for Nick Patti
  • Kicking

Story of the midseason

Winner: Joe Southwick starting at quarterback

Nothing has received more air time or blog time as The Joe Southwick Situation. He is either the worst quarterback in Boise State history or the best man for the job, and sometimes it's both. The vitriol and veracity with which Boise State fans discuss him is approaching BCS conspiracy theory levels. I thought Bronco fans got worked up over getting snubbed for a Sugar Bowl, but the talk might be just as loud and voluminous over whether or not Joe Southwick is the right man for the job. For what it's worth, I have no idea if he is the right man for the job; I just want to get some sleep. The Southwick Situation is the party next door that won't stop.

Others considered:

  • Boise State's season is over after the Michigan State loss
  • Never mind! Boise State is very much alive for a BCS bowl after winning its last five
  • Black uniforms