With the Hoosiers off to their best start in 13 years, it’s time for the Scoop’s Mid-Season awards list. It’s been a fun six weeks, with five of them victories, and it should only get any better with the second half as IU tries to first secure a bowl bid, and second, earn a respectable bowl invitation.
So, without further ado…
Offensive MVP: Kellen Lewis, QB
This award really comes down to two players: Lewis and James Hardy. Now, Iâ€™m not going to sit here and write that Hardy hasnâ€™t had a great season- he has by all means- but when I think of IUâ€™s most valuable player, it has to be Lewis. Heâ€™s done whatever itâ€™s took to win games, whether its throwing for 322 yards and three touchdowns in a hostile environment at Iowa or running for an amazing 199 yards and two scores against Akron. Heâ€™s ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in total offense and fourth in passing efficiency. What it comes down to, however, is that if you remove James Hardy from the IU offense, it could still function. Certainly not as well, but it would still be able to score points. Remove Kellen Lewis, and IUâ€™s a completely different team.
Runner-Up: James Hardy, WR
Defensive MVP: Greg Middleton, DE
Middleton started his first game against Indiana State, recorded the first two sacks of his career, and has been the Hoosiersâ€™ most disruptive defensive player since. I considered Will Patterson for this award as well, but I feel that because IUâ€™s pass rush has been so dominant- ranked No. 1 in the nation in sacks for the second straight week- it has to go to Middleton. In six games, his 8.5 sacks lead the Big Ten and leaves him second nationally. Not to mention, he recovered the fumble at Western Michigan and returned it for a touchdown that ignited the Hoosiersâ€™ second quarter charge.
Runners-Up: Will Patterson, WLB; Tracy Porter, CB
Breakthrough Performer: Bryan Payton, RB
In his first extensive action of the season Saturday against Minnesota, Payton terrorized the Gophers, racking up a career-high 90 yards and three touchdowns. It seems that, in only one game, Payton ignited the lackluster IU running game thatâ€™s struggled all season. Payton started the season as the third string back, behind Marcus Thigpen and Demetrius McCray, but through six games has emerged as a viable option for the Hoosier offense.
Runners-Up: Ray Fisher, WR; Josiah Sears, FB
Biggest Disappointment: Marcus Thigpen, RB/KR
This is not a knock on Thigpenâ€™s return ability, because we all know that no oneâ€™s kicking to him. Thatâ€™s not his fault. But he just hasnâ€™t gotten it done in the running game. For a team like IU that likes to run the ball, Thigpenâ€™s 3.6 yards per carry average may not be enough this season, especially after Bryan Paytonâ€™s big day against Minnesota.
Best Performance: Kellen Lewis vs. Akron
If you sat there in Memorial Stadium that day, you knew you were watching something special. Lewis simply put on a show, and the Akron defense, like so many defenses before them, had no answer. His statistics donâ€™t do justice: 19-24 in the air for three touchdowns and 18 rushes for 199 yards and two more scores. Time and again, under pressure, Lewis created something from nothing and kept plays alive, leading the Hoosiers to a dominant victory. This is something heâ€™s done all season, and for that particular Saturday, he was at his very best.
Runner-Up: Greg Middleton vs. Western Michigan
Best Unsung Hero: Austin Starr, K
Starr has quietly been having one of the best seasons ever for an IU kicker. On top of tying a school record with four field goals Saturday in IUâ€™s 40-20 drubbing over Minnesota, Starr has gone 6-6 on kicks from 40 yards or more in his career and has hit nine straight, the second longest streak in school history.
Runner-Up: Andrew Means, WR
Best Play: Kellen Lewis, 71-yard touchdown throw to himself at Iowa
This play simply illustrates the joy of college football, and why Kellen Lewis is such a versatile player. After catching a short screen pass on the left flank from Lewis, Hoosier fullback Josiah Sears lost the ball and a mad scramble ensued for its possession. Enter Lewis. Coming from nowhere, it seemed, the IU quarterback scooped up the ball in one fell swoop, sprinted 71 yards and somersaulted into the endzone. Officially, Lewis was credited with throwing a 71-yard pass to himself, however that works. For Hoosier fans, I doubt there was any play this season that rose you out of your La-Z-Boy quite like that one.
Runner-Up: Leslie Majorâ€™s interception on his back vs. Minnesota; Kellen Lewisâ€™ 44-yard highlight-reel run vs. Minnesota
What does everyone think? I’m interested to see everyone’s lists and compare them with mine. These kind of things are always fun and seem to stir up some intense debates. Any hate mail, though, please send to Doug or Chris.