Virginia Tech Football: Midseason Awards for Players and Coaches

Bryan Manning@bdmanning4Featured ColumnistOctober 21, 2013

Virginia Tech Football: Midseason Awards for Players and Coaches

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    Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    Now that we are over halfway through the 2013 season, it is time to take a look back at the first half of the season for the Virginia Tech Hokies.

    VT (6-1, 3-0) has bounced back nicely from what was a terribly disappointing 2012 season. Yes, there are still five games to go, but Miami is the biggest obstacle the Hokies face the rest of this season. The contest with the Hurricanes will likely determine who opposes Florida State in the ACC title game.

    Senior quarterback Logan Thomas is having a fine senior season, despite getting little help from those around him. The jury is still out on new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, although he has worked well with Thomas.

    Who has been the top coach? Or the top defensive player? Here's a look at the major midseason awards for the Hokies through the first half of 2013




Offensive MVP: Logan Thomas

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    Logan Thomas
    Logan ThomasJeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    Perhaps no player in the country is as important to their team as Logan Thomas is to Virginia Tech. 

    No, he isn't the best player in college football, or even the best quarterback in the ACC, he is, however, one of the most irreplaceable players in the country.

    After a rough start to the season where he completed less than 20 percent of his passes, Thomas has bounced back to get his completion percentage up over 55 percent and is gaining more confidence each week.

    After struggling with turnovers early in the season, Thomas has not turned the ball over in three games. 

    Thomas is also second on the team in rushing and there have been at least two games where he was the only Hokie who could get anything going on the ground.

    If the Hokies expect to win the ACC, Thomas needs to keep playing the way he has over the past month. 

Defensive MVPs: Kyle Fuller and Antoine Hopkins

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    Kyle Fuller
    Kyle FullerBob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    As easy as the choice for top offensive player was, selecting the Hokies' top defensive player for the first half was especially difficult. 

    Several players have stood out, whether it be Jack Tyler, James Gayle, J.R. Collins, the Fuller brothers, Brandon Facyson or Derrick Hopkins, Tech has a plethora of choices for this award. 

    However, two players in particular stand out: cornerback Kyle Fuller and Hopkins.

    Kyle Fuller has consistently shut down the opponent's top receiver and was terrific when he was called on to play whip linebacker. He never misses tackles and is reliable in coverage. He is truly a coach on the field and should be an All-American.

    Hopkins has stabilized this defense in the middle. The senior defensive tackle has a relentless motor and is equally adept at stopping the run and getting pressure up the middle. 

    Hopkins regularly faces double teams and beats them. He and Kyle Fuller are the two most important players on VT's second-ranked defense. 

Best Play: Trey Edmunds' TD Run vs. Alabama

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    Yes, it came in the Hokies' only loss of the season, but Trey Edmunds' big run against No. 1 Alabama was one for the highlight reel.

    Outside of a Chris Mangus touchdown run early in the season, the Hokies have lacked explosiveness on offense. They've failed to make any big plays on special teams and the defense has had several impressive moments. 

    Edmunds' run showed that VT has talent in the backfield. He has terrific speed and if the Hokies can improve their blocking, he could be special. 

    Edmunds' run being voted as the best play also was likely influenced by the quality of the opponent. 

Best Coach: Bud Foster

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    Bud Foster
    Bud FosterJeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    Seriously, who else did you expect?

    Bud Foster is arguably the best defensive coordinator in America and has been the Hokies' top assistant for the last 15 years or more.

    The longtime defensive coordinator is having one of his better seasons in years. The Hokies are ranked No. 2 in the country in total defense. 

    VT leads the country in sacks and is tied for second in interceptions with 13. That has always been Foster's modus operandi: stop the run, get to the passer and force turnovers.

    This unit has tremendous talent and Foster always has them prepared. Even though the Hokies are struggling on offense, with this defense they always have a chance to win, regardless of the opponent.


Most Improved Player: Demitri Knowles

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    Demitri Knowles
    Demitri KnowlesBob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Logan Thomas may have received the most criticism after the season-opening loss to Alabama, but he was truly let down by his receivers. They dropped numerous passes and none looked ready for prime time in 2013.

    Perhaps no one was a bigger culprit than sophomore Demitri Knowles.

    Thankfully for the Hokies, Knowles has stepped up to become Thomas' go-to guy. Knowles leads the Hokies in receptions and is just three yards behind Willie Byrn for the team lead in receiving yards.

    Knowles, one of the fastest players on the team, has started to run better routes and displayed consistent hands since the 'Bama debacle. 

    No player on this team has made a bigger improvement this season than Knowles. Thomas has to hope Knowles continues to get better and inject more life into a struggling Hokie offense. 

Surprise Star: Jonathan McLaughlin

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    Jonathan McLaughlin
    Jonathan McLaughlinBob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Big-time college programs rarely allow a true freshman to protect the blind side of their senior quarterback. Virginia Tech had little choice in 2013.

    The Hokies lost left tackle Nick Becton to graduation after 2012 and had little answers in-house on who would fill his shoes. And for the record, those shoes weren't exactly big ones to fill. He was adequate last season.

    VT, meanwhile, turned to Jonathan McLaughlin. McLaughlin signed with the Hokies last December after playing one season of prep ball at Fork Union. He impressed coaches with a strong spring and new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes put him atop the team's depth chart.

    In his first test against No. 1 Alabama, McLaughlin was strong. He did not allow a sack and has been the Hokies' most consistent lineman all year. 

    Pretty impressive for a true freshman. 

Rookie of the Year: Brandon Facyson

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    Brandon Facyson
    Brandon FacysonJeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    This may be the toughest of all awards to give out. Three freshmen have really stood out for the Hokies in the first half of 2013: Cornerbacks Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller and offensive tackle Jonathan McLaughlin.

    Facyson and Fuller, in particular, have been extremely impressive. Both are considered starters and have made an enormous impact on the Hokies' defense.

    Facyson, though, by virtue of his team-leading four interceptions, gets the nod here. Also, Fuller is a victim of expectations. He was expected to be terrific as a freshman. Facyson wasn't expected to play as much.

    Even though he has four INTs, Facyson could have had several more. He is constantly around the ball and, like Fuller, is a future star.