Cowboys Football: Midseason Awards

Oklahoma State is 5-1 and sits at No. 13 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 19 in the Associated Press top 25. The Cowboys are six games into the season and thus it's time to present our Midseason Cowboys Awards.

Offensive MVP: J.W. Walsh
Yes, the same player that was pulled after his second interception in last Saturday's 24-10 win over TCU is the Offensive MVP in the first half of the season.

While Walsh has been sluggish and inconsistent in the passing game since the loss at West Virginia, he is still completing about 60 percent of his passes. He has still thrown for nine touchdowns and run for another three scores. He came in and with his running ability turned the offensive ignition in the opener against Mississippi State.

In the second game at UTSA he broke a Brandon Weeden record for completion percentage and had Oklahoma State fans excited about his passing prowess. At that point he had not thrown an interception; all five have come in three games West Virginia, Kansas State and TCU.

The question on everyone's mind as we enter the second half of the season is can Walsh recapture his early magic or is he going to stay on the roller coaster ride from the past few games?

Defensive MVP: Caleb Lavey
Lavey is playing fantastic. Not only is he having a great physical presenece on the field with 45 tackles to lead the defense along with 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, and a fumble recovered and one caused; but Lavey is still the quarterback of the defensive front making sure guys align correctly and are in the right place. This guy deserves a lot of credit for his play. A close runnerup is fellow linebacker Shaun Lewis, who is also playing at a very high level. It is team defense and all are responsible for the success.

Special Teams MVP: Josh Stewart
A no-brainer here as Stewart has been fantastic with his return game. He is one of the leaders nationally in punt returns with two for touchdowns including the school record 95-yard return against TCU. Of course, Stewart is also the leading receiver on offense for the Cowboys.

Unsung Hero: Shamiel Gary
This could be a lot of people but Gary has turned it around from last season when he couldn't seem to be in the right place at the right time. Gary has made a number of plays that have greatly influenced the outcome of games so far. He is second on the team in tackles with 35, 27 unassisted. He has seven pass break-ups to lead the team in that category.

Top Newcomer: (tie) Ofa Hautau and Kip Smith
Yes, a defensive tackle and a kicker/punter tie in this category. Hautau is a welcomed addition as you can never have enough inside technique guys that can play on the defensive line. The Snow (Utah) Junior College transfer has eaten a lot of snaps inside with seven tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.

Oklahoma State is tops in the Big 12 and sixth in the nation in kickoff coverage, and Kip Smith and his ability to directional kick on kickoffs is a big reason why. He gets good height on his kickoffs and his punts as well, allowing cover personnel to get down to make the play. Opponents are averaging a paltry 16.9 yards on kickoff returns. The Cowboys are also averaging a better than average 36.3 on net punt.

Top Freshman: Marcell Ateman
This needed to be Ben Grogan, but it hasn't been. Ateman has a world of potential, and he has 11 receptions for 108 yards. He is a big threat when you see him on the field. Give this another week and running back Rennie Childs could claim this honor.

Best Offensive Play: Charlie Moore to Josh Stewart 27-yard reverse pass vs. TCU
The tunnel screen to Stewart in the West Virginia game was good, but the catch Stewart made on the Moore pass was one of the best catches you will see anywhere. He made an unbelievable catch. One observer that watched Dez Bryant grow up said it was a "Bryant-type play." Also, the Blake Jackson catch against Lamar gets some attention.

Best Defensive Play: Caleb Lavey's interception vs. Kansas State
It was acrobatic and it came at a clutch moment when Oklahoma State needed to keep Kansas State off the board and needed an opportunity. The problem was the Cowboys did not make the most out of it, but you can't blame Lavey and the defense for that.

Best Special Teams Play: Josh Stewart's 95-yard punt return vs. TCU
It's not even close here. Not only was Stewart's run and effort sensational, but the play featured a season's worth of big blocks on special teams. I especially loved John Goodlett's de-cleater on TCU safety Sam Carter.

Best Game: Oklahoma State 21 Mississippi State 3
A defensive effort that foreshadowed what that unit would show throughout the first half of the season and a solid job of the offense playing along and doing what was necessary after a slow start. The Bulldogs have been mediocre this season but with the build up and the pressure Oklahoma State answered in the opener.

Worst Game: West Virginia 30 Oklahoma State 21
No contest here as it is the only loss. It showed me personally that West Virginia is a tough place to play and the Mountaineers have some very unique built in home-field advantages. The Cowboys played poorly, especially on offense and special teams.

Modified Prediction: 9-3
The Cowboys could win them all and I'm not prepared to name where the losses will come but even with a stingy defense and really strong special teams outside field goal kicking, the Cowboys have the toughest part of their schedule coming down the stretch.

The games that concerns me most is Texas Tech on the road. The Red Raiders aren't as good as their record, in my opinion, but in Lubbock they will be tough. Other tough games will be the home game with Baylor, by far the most explosive team in the Big 12 so far, Texas on the road and Oklahoma at home. I think the Cowboys will win some of these but without more consistency they are likely to lose one or two. Remember, with improvement they could run the table. Survive and advance has to be the goal week to week.

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