CUTigers' Midseason Awards

CLEMSON - Halfway through the 2011 campaign, Clemson sits at a perfect 6-0 (3-0 ACC) with a top-10 ranking. Here are the players who've made their presence known.

MVP - Offense
QB Tajh Boyd - The first-year starting quarterback gets the nod over a deserving tight end and very worthy wide receiver.

Boyd's been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country. He ranks 16th with a 161.6 efficiency rating. Among ACC quarterbacks, only Miami's Jacory Harris and North Carolina's Bryn Renner rank higher.

Before suffering a hip injury against the Eagles, Boyd was in the midst of yet another solid outing. He completed 16 of 26 passes for 283 yards and a score, moving his season totals to 119 completions on 194 attempts for 1,742 yards with 15 touchdowns to just two interceptions.

The redshirt sophomore also continues to emerge as a dual threat with 120 yards rushing and three scores.

There's one problem. His immediate status for the second half is in question after the hip injury. Boyd is questionable for the second road game of the season, a 7 p.m. kickoff at Maryland.

As long as he keeps it up, so should the Tigers.

Assuming Boyd's health holds up during the push towards the ACC Championship, it could be a smooth ride to Charlotte.

MVP - Defense
DT Brandon Thompson - Just because Thompson is ninth on the team in tackles [22], it doesn't mean his impact on opposing offenses hasn't been felt.

Thompson, who continues to up his stock as an early round NFL Draft pick, run stuffs about as well as anybody in the country. Opponents have struggled to run between the guards with Thompson inside occupying multiple players, gaps -- whatever and whoever.

The Clemson run defense has been stout over the last three games.

Brandon Thompson is the anchor of Clemson's front four and could be a first round draft pick in 2012. (Roy Philpott)
Florida State ran 15 times for 29 yards.

Virginia Tech had 40 carries for 133 yards.

Boston College finished with 35 attempts for 126 yards and a touchdown.

Right there, in the middle of most of it, has been Thompson.

Most Improved - Offense
LT Phillip Price - Our preseason forecast of Price eventually giving way to Brandon Thomas as the starting left tackle was wrong. Dead wrong.

All Price has done through the first half of this season is turn the doubters into believers.

In hindsight, we should have seen it coming. In 2010, he was often used as a third tackle, or blocking tight end. And, for the most part, he was a solid performer.

The big, nasty former walk-on tight end has earned every bit of playing time he's received this season and will continue to over the next half.

Most Improved - Defense
LB Jonathan Willard - Maybe we should change the Most Improved nod to Guys That Have Surprised The Hell Out of Us.

Before the season, we thought the only thing that would keep Tony Steward off the field would be his surgically repaired knee.

Wrong, again.

It's been Willard, who's taken ownership of the weak-side linebacker position.

Through six games, Willard leads the team with 40 tackles. His 25 solo stops are also tops among all Tiger defenders.

Rookie MVP- Offense
WR Sammy Watkins - No offense to the handful of other freshmen who've played on this side of the ball, but who else would it be?

The Clemson single season record for touchdown catches by a freshman was broken two games ago. Though the Fort Myers five-star hasn't had one since setting the mark, he continues to make a huge impact.

Watkins is first on the team with 38 catches for 623 yards and six touchdowns. He's 22nd in the country with 103.83 receiving yards per game.

His combination of speed, size, strength and smarts has made him into one of the nation's premier receiving threats, and he has just six games under his belt.

Rookie MVP - Defense
LB Stephone Anthony - Had Anthony not suffered a mid-foot sprain at the end of Thursday's practice, his first half statistics would be a lot more attractive.

Anthony has nine tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack.

Regardless, we're impressed with the impact he's made so far this season, in part because of where he's doing it. Anthony plays middle linebacker and it's not every day that a freshman can come in and play the position with the kind of command he does.

His push for the starting job is on. Top Stories