2021 Midseason Mountain West Football Awards
Who made a big splash this year so far
MID SEASON AWARDS!
It is late on a Friday but it is still technically the mid-season point of Mountain West football so we are handing out some awards. We did two polls, one amongst our staff and one for a reader vote.
We kept it simple with the categories by looking at individual performances like player of the year in multiple categories and also what were some disappointments and highlights of the year.
If you disagree or want your voice heard on this, just tag us on Twitter @MWCWire to keep the conversation going.
Offensive Player of the Year
Staff: Jake Haener, Fresno State, QB
Reader: Carson Strong, Nevada, QB
This was a split vote and within the 12 staff members it was an overwhelming victory with seven of the 12 votes going for Haener. He has arguably the best win in the conference by toppling UCLA and leads the conference in quarterback rating, yards per game, yards per pass attempt and completion percentage (by .2% over Strong).
When in doubt, air it out
— Nevada Football (@NevadaFootball) October 2, 2021
Strong is second in every category but does have an edge in TD/INT ratio but even that is close. Both have just one loss on the year with the Wolf Pack falling to Kansas State and the Bulldogs losing to Hawaii.
Among the reader vote, 1/3 chose Strong and zero chose Haener which was quite surprising.
Defensive Player of the Year
Staff: Chad Muma, Wyoming, LB
Reader: J.L. Skinner, Boise State, LB & Justin Rice, Utah State, LB
This one was a close vote among our staff with Muma earning three votes and a total of eight players earning another vote. The others with two votes were Justin Rice and Arron Mosby of Fresno State.
The three interceptions and two for scores probably is a reason why Muma won the staff vote. The spread out of votes shows that there is a lot of top-shelf defensive talent in this league.
— Wyoming Cowboy Football (@wyo_football) September 18, 2021
All of the winners here are linebackers which is the strength of this league. Rice’s reputation carried over from his time at Fresno State and his 2020 year at Arkansas State but he lived up to the hype as he also is making plays with three picks this year.
Skinner doesn’t have the turnovers but he has three pass breakups, a pair of forced fumbles, and is second in the league with 53 tackles this year.
Special Teams Player of the Year
Reader: Brandon Talton, Nevada, PK
With no returner really standing out, especially no scores, the kickers took over. The staff vote saw half of us pick between Dalmas who is 14 of 16 from field goals and making all of his extra points.
The other half is Araiza who was named a mid-season All-American for ESPN with booming kicks with three of 70 or more yards, plus this tidbit from ESPN.
He leads the FBS with a 54.1-yard average, which is 3.08 yards ahead of the FBS record set by Texas A&M’s Braden Mann in 2018
The reader pick was Talton narrowly edging Ariaza with 29.2% of the vote. This year, the Nevada kicker is perfect on his 20 extra points and 10 of 12 on field goals.
Freshman of the Year
Staff: Aaron Dumas, New Mexico, RB & Noah Avinger, San Diego State, CB
Reader: Noah Avinger, San Diego State, CB
This was another close vote and our staff went with an offensive skill player in Dumas who is leading the Lobos in rushing 284 yards and one of the few bright spots on the New Mexico team this year.
Avinger as a freshman and seeing significant time in the secondary for an elite defense like San Diego State is a feat. He has an interception on the year and a pass break up.
Head Coach of the Year
Staff: Brady Hoke, San Diego State
Reader: Brady Hoke, San Diego State
This award sometimes goes to the actual best coach or the coach that might be overachieving and has the best year. This time it seems like it is sort of both. The Aztecs are undefeated under Hoke with a pair of Pac-12 wins on the year.
The reader vote saw a whopping 47% of the vote go to Hoke and in the staff proceedings, it was five of 12 votes toward the leader of the Aztecs.