BYU Football: Mid-season Awards

The 2012 season has reached the midway point for the Brigham Young Cougars. There have been many great moments and some not so good moments in these first six games. As part of BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL’s mid-season evaluation, here is a look at the front runners for the awards that will be given at the end of the season.

Each award has three nominees (except Team MVP). The first five awards are for an individual player. To keep things interesting, once a player won one of these awards he was removed from consideration for the others. 

For additional commentary why a certain nominee was or was not awarded a certain honor, listen to the clip below. 

Team MVP

Kyle Van Noy: 24 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 5 pass break ups, 7 quarterback hurries, 3 forced fumbles
Cody Hoffman: 31 receptions, 432 yards, 2 TD
Brandon Ogletree: 49 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 4 pass break ups, 1 quarterback hurry

Winner: Kyle Van Noy

The defense is the strength of the team, and Van Noy is the cornerstone of that defense. He leads the team in tackles for loss, sacks, quarterback hurries, and forced fumbles. With the attention garnered by Van Noy, it has allowed Ezekiel Ansah and Spencer Hadley to fly under the radar and make several big plays. Van Noy has developed a trademark play: blindside hits on the quarterback that result in fumbles. He has done it three times this season.

Offensive Player of the Year

Cody Hoffman: 31 receptions, 432 yards, 2 TD
Taysom Hill: 42-71, 59.2%, 425 yards, 4 TD, 2 Int; 55 rush, 336 yards, 4 TD
Riley Nelson: 64-109, 58.7%, 754 yards, 5 TD, 5 Int; 36 rush, 84 yards

Winner: Cody Hoffman

Hoffman has continued to be a man among boys. His first eight receptions of the season were good for first downs or touchdowns. When BYU needs a big play, Hoffman is the go to guy. He has been one of the few bright spots for BYU on offense. He already has three 100-yard receiving games.

Defensive Player of the Year

Brandon Ogletree: 49 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 4 pass break ups, 1 quarterback hurry
Ezekiel Ansah: 27 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 pass break ups, 3 quarterback hurries, 
Spencer Hadley: 32 tackles, 7 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 1 pass break up, 1 QB hurry, 1 fumble recovery, 1 forced fumble 

Winner: Brandon Ogletree

Ogletree leads the team in tackles. He is the captain of the defense. He may be the most consistent player on defense for BYU. Week in and week out, Ogletree makes tackle after tackle. He has improved his game this year. He gets into the back field faster and has become involved in the pass game. He had just four tackles for loss in all of 2011, and zero pass break ups. He is on pace for many more tackles than the team-high 76 he made last year.

Newcomer of the Year

Paul Lasike: 14 carries, 47 yards, 2 TD; 1 reception 25 yards
Jamaal Williams: 50 carries, 309 yards, 3 TD; 6 receptions, 54 yards
Taysom Hill: 42-71, 59.2%, 425 yards, 4 TD, 2 Int; 55 rush, 336 yards, 4 TD

Winner: Taysom Hill

Hill has done what no other freshman quarterback has ever done at BYU: start two games and win them both. His potential is off the charts. Against a tough Utah State defense, he led the team to 380 yards. Hill looked like a veteran as he drove BYU 61-yards in 25 seconds to score a touchdown, that would win the game, just before halftime. Hill leads the team in rushing, and he has the longest run from scrimmage. His very first play was a touchdown pass. He entered the Boise State game in a very difficult situation, and nearly led BYU to victory.

Most Improved Player 

Kaneakua Friel: 20 receptions, 248 yards, 4 TD
Ezekiel Ansah: 27 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 pass break ups, 3 quarterback hurries, 
Spencer Hadley: 32 tackles, 7 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 1 pass break up, 1 QB hurry, 1 fumble recovery, 1 forced fumble 

Winner: Ezekiel Ansah

Ansah the Monstah has gone from special teams contributor to terrorizing offenses on nearly every play. He saw little time in the first four games of the season, but with Eathyn Manumaleuna going down with a season ending injury, Ansah started playing full time. He is now the second most feared player on the defense. Not bad for a guy who didn’t even know how to put on pads two years ago.

Play of the Year

1. Taysom Hill to K. Friel 18 yard TD pass on Hill's first play of his career vs. Washington State
2. Fourth Down stop at the 1-yard line against Boise State 
3. Taysom Hill 68 yards TD run vs. Hawaii

Winner: Taysom Hill 18-yard touchdown pass to Kaneakua Friel vs. Washington State

The Hill to Friel touchdown pass gave BYU a 14-0 lead against Washington State. It was a 4th down. Hill called an audible. He had tucked the ball away ready to run, but at the last moment spotted Friel wide open. Oh, and it was Hill’s first career play. It spoke volumes about what the future might bring, as well as the outcome of the season opener.

Best Offensive Series

1. 4 play, 46 yard drive for touchdown against Washington State, ended in 25 yard pass to Kaneakua
2. 11 play, 95 yard drive for touchdown against Boise State, ended with 4-yard Taysom Hill run.
3. 4 play, 61 yard drive for touchdown against Utah State, ended with 3-yard pass to JD Falslev.

Winner: 4 plays, 61 yards, 25 seconds, game winning 3-yard touchdown pass to JD Falslev versus Utah State.

It was like BYU flipped a switch. The offense had moved the ball in the first half against Utah State, but not at this speed. Trailing 3-0, and with just 28 seconds before halftime, it seemed logical that BYU would run the clock out. Hill completed three passes to Hoffman. How he was able to get open all three plays is still a mystery. Utah State should have had him double covered every play. Hill’s poise was that of a veteran, not a freshman making his second start. In the end, this was the game winning drive in the 6-3 game.

Best Defensive Series

1. Washington State: 3 plays, -1 yard, started at BYU 35-yard line. Ended with Jordan Johnson intercepting a pass and returning it 64 yards.
2. Utah: 5 plays, 3 yards, started at the Utah 11-yard line. Ended with BYU tackling the Utah punter for a six-yard loss at the Utah 11.
3. Boise State: 4 plays, 0 yards, started at BYU 1-yard line. 

Winner: 4 plays, 0 yards, turnover on downs at the BYU 1-yard line versus Boise State.

What can a defense do that is more impressive than keeping a team out of the end zone when they have four tries from the one-yard line? After the BYU offense turned the ball over at the one, the defense drove Boise State backwards the first two plays, one yard each time. After Boise State moved the ball back to the one on third down, Kyle Van Noy made the final stop on fourth down. This was on the road, and at a moment when the game was starting to get away from BYU. This stop was the start of BYU’s comeback that fell inches short.

Biggest Surprise

1. BYU defense is utterly dominating
2. BYU quarterbacks have 5 rushing touchdowns, BYU running backs have 6
3. Top 2 rushers are freshmen, and the no. 1 rusher is a quarterback.

Winner: BYU defense is utterly dominating

There was little question that the BYU defense would be good. With the number of players returning who played well in 2011, it was impossible that this defense wouldn’t give opponents problems. What the defense has done, however, is getting ridiculous. Four opponents haven’t seen the end zone. Two opponents have not scored an offensive touchdown. None of the opponents have gained 300 yards of total offense. Only two opponents have had 100 yards rushing, one had negative rushing yards. Only two opponents have had 200 yards rushing. BYU is the best in the nation at stopping the run, and very highly ranked in many other statistical categories. The defense has made 20 sacks. BYU hasn’t had more than 25 sacks in a season since 2007.

Biggest Disappointment

1. Quarterback situation
2. Kicking conundrum
3. Turnovers are still killing BYU in big games 

Winner: Quarterback Situation

The quarterback situation takes the cake. After all, this is quarterback U. It is also the third year in a row that BYU has not had consistent quarterback play. Two injured quarterbacks, especially the way Taysom Hill was injured, is a huge disappointment. Riley Nelson should have left the Boise State game earlier than he did. By staying in, he, effectively, lost the game for BYU.  

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