Boise State Football: Midseason Awards for Broncos' Players and Coaches
The Boise State Broncos (5-2, 3-1 MWC) are moving forward in the quest to win the Mountain West Conference without starting quarterback Joe Southwick.
Southwick broke his ankle, according to Kevin McGuire of NBCSports.com, on the first play from scrimmage against Nevada, and his return this season is questionable.
However, junior quarterback Grant Hedrick is now the next man up, and to get to the MWC title game in December him and the rest of the team need to step up their game.
There is considerable talent on the 2013 roster, so they certainly should have a chance.
In fact, let's take a closer look at some of that talent, and hand out some midseason awards to those who have earned them.
Offensive MVP: Senior Quarterback Joe Southwick
Before his injury in the Nevada game, Joe Southwick was having an MVP season.
So far this year, he had completed 149 of 206 passes for 1,589 yards, connected on 11 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions and had a completion percentage of 72.3 and a quarterback rating of 149.9.
He also scrambled 42 times for 111 yards and three additional scores.
Southwick was on pace to throw for well over 3,000 yards, and possibly leading his team to a rematch against Fresno State in the MWC championship game. Now however, he will be fortunate just to make it back on the field by the end of the season.
Joe was certainly the offensive MVP for the first half of the Broncos' 2013 campaign, but now someone else will have to carry the torch in the second half of the season as Southwick does what he can to heal up in a timely manner.
Defensive MVP: Junior Defensive End Demarcus Lawrence
The player of the year on defense isn't a slam dunk, but Demarcus Lawrence has done enough, especially in the last three games, to get the nod.
On the year Lawrence has 38 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, two blocked kicks and 6.5 sacks resulting in 46 sack yards.
He was a huge reason for the containment of Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo in the Broncos last game, and he seriously harassed the Wolf Pack passer all game.
Lawrence started slow this season, but in the last three games he has gotten better. It is scary to think what he might do the rest of the year.
Best Play: Jay Ajayi's 71 Yard Run Against Nevada
The play of the year has to be the 71 yard run Jay Ajayi had against Nevada, and for three reasons.
First, it was a great play.
Ajayi showed off his speed, and the offensive line got to show off their incredible ability to open lanes for Ajayi and the other running backs.
Second, the run couldn't have come at a better time.
After losing starting quarterback Joe Southwick in the first half, the Broncos were trailing the Wolf Pack in the second half of that game.
With 9:20 left in the third quarter, the Broncos defense forced a Nevada punt and the offense took over on their own 29.
On first down, quarterback Grant Hedrick handed the ball off to Ajayi who proceeded to blaze a 71-yard trail to the end zone.
It was a huge game changer, and it gave the Broncos a lead they would never relinquish.
The third thing this run did was it seemed to lift the spirits of a team still reeling from losing its starting quarterback.
The mood changed in the stadium and on the Boise State sideline, and it appeared as if a cloud had lifted.
Best Coach: Head Coach Chris Petersen
It's hard to give out a best coach award and skip head coach Chris Petersen.
However, he would probably tell you that he couldn't do it without his assistants. Which, is another reason he gets this award.
Petersen is doing an incredible job this season, but what's new?
Seeing the writing on the wall with the new style of offense taking over the college world, Petersen has redesigned the teams scheme entirely.
Of course, he took a lot of heat because of that when it seemed to fizzle on opening night against Washington, but the team has rebounded nicely.
Season after season, Petersen keeps himself, his staff and his players engaged and motivated. Which, is much more difficult than some might imagine.
Most Improved Player
Most Improved Player: Junior Kicker Dan Goodale
Yes, a kicker gets this award, but for good reason.
Before this season, Boise State kicker Dan Goodale was probably best known for his missed kick against TCU in 2011 as a freshman.
That missed field goal kept the Broncos out of another BCS game, and seemed to seal Goodale's fate as a starter for Boise State.
In his sophomore season of 2012, Goodale didn't see much action. He appeared in the last four games of the year according to BroncoSports.com, but only as a kickoff specialist.
In the off-season, the Broncos coaching staff went out and recruited a JUCO transfer in a sign that they weren't convinced of Goodale's talent.
However, something happened on the way to fall camp. In fact, in the spring scrimmage it was obvious that Dan had stepped up his game in a big way.
By the time the fall rolled around, it was Goodale that was the obvious choice to kick field goals for the Broncos.
He has looked much better this season, and is kicking with power and accuracy.
So far in 2013, Goodale is 8-of-9 when it comes to field goals and 31-of-34 for extra points. His longest field goal of the season is 39 yards, but it is clear if you watch him kick, he can make it from much further out.
Whatever Goodale did in the offseason, he should keep doing it because he has improved greatly.
Rookie of the Year
Rookie of the Year: Redshirt Freshman Linebacker Ben Weaver
The rookie of the year has to be linebacker Ben Weaver, who is currently the lead tackler on the team.
That is impressive for two reasons. First, he wasn't a starter at the beginning of the season, and secondly, he is just a redshirt freshman.
Weaver has 63 tackles, six of them for a loss, and he has also sacked the quarterback once this season.
If you watch him play he is aggressive, he is quick to the ball and he can flat out hit opposing players.
At 6'0 and 233 pounds, he is not the biggest linebacker on the roster, but he is playing larger than any linebacker on the team.
Surprise Star: True Freshman Running Back Aaron Baltazar
True freshman running back Aaron Baltazar came to Boise State with a lot of hype. However, not many gave him a chance of playing in his first season.
After all, the Broncos coaching staff went out and landed a JUCO transfer named Derrick Thomas that was supposed to come in and back up Jay Ajayi right away.
Not only that, but backup running back Jack Fields, who had some carries in 2012 as a true freshman, was also poised to back up Ajayi.
So, when Baltazar got 10 carries in the first game of the season, it surprised many.
He would go on to have significant carries in four additional games as backup to Ajayi, and even got the start against Southern Miss.
However, he was also injured in that game, and is out for the season with a torn ACL.
It is really too bad because he is clearly an incredible player. He certainly deserves the "Surprise Star" award, but next season he won't surprise anyone.
This season, Baltazar had 50 carries for 234 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught five passes out of the backfield for 19 additional yards.
Look for some incredible things out of him in 2014.