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Sun Devils are due some midseason hardware

It’s hard to believe, but we’re halfway through the
college
football season.

Locally, the Arizona State Sun Devils are living up to
expectations, and that hasn’t happened in a while.

The last time there were high expectations placed on the
Sun Devils, they
fell flat on their collective face. In 2008, the Devils
got off to a 2-0 start with wins over NAU and Stanford,
elvating them to a #15 national ranking
ASU had a “tune-up” game with UNLV before hosting
3rd-ranked
Georgia in Tempe. The tune-up turned out to be a 23-20
overtime loss to
the Rebels, and set the stage for a shellacking at the
hands of the Bulldogs
and served as the impetus for an unsatisfying 5-7 season.

But this year’s expectations have been fulfilled so far.
Dennis Erickson’s team sits at 5-1 overall, 3-0 in Pac-12
play and ranked 18th in the nation heading into the 7th
game of the regular season at Oregon.

Time to hand out some mid-season awards to some deserving
Sun Devils through six games of the season. Hey, who
doesn’t love awards, right?

First Half MVP – Jamal Miles – If ASU
football supplied
players with business cards, Miles’ card would need to be
a little bit longer because of all the roles he plays on
this team. He’s the only player in the nation who has
scored touchdowns by reception, punt return and kickoff
return. He’s even thrown a touchdown pass. Miles has
been a huge reason why Arizona State is second in the Pac-
12 in both punt and kickoff returns. I would like to see
him get more than the 40 offensive touches in the 2nd half
of the season.

Outstanding Offensive Player – Brock
Osweiler – The junior
quarterback has picked up right where he left off in 2010.
In fact, since Osweiler inherited a 10-point deficit from
Steven Threet during last November’s UCLA win, the Sun
Devils are 7-1. Outside of a shaky start at Illinois and
some spotty decision making against Oregon State, Osweiler
has been outstanding, and his leadership skills are a big
reason why the Sun Devils are where they are.
Honorable Mention: Cameron Marshall

Outstanding Defensive Player – Colin
Parker – I know what you’re thinking. Vontaze Burfict is
on this defense and he’s on everyone’s All-American team
and is on the Watch List for every defensive award known
to man. Naming Parker as the first half winner on this
award isn’t a slight on Burfict, it’s a compliment to
Parker, who wasn’t even supposed to be a starter, but
still leads the team in tackles through six games. But
even with the absence of Brandon Magee, the Sun Devil
linebacking corps (including Shelly Lyons and Oliver
Aaron) has been outstanding.

Best Newcomer – Davon Coleman – The
defensive end who once committed to Ohio State out of
Glenville High School in Ohio has made a positive impact
for the Sun Devils. He’s another player who was pressed
into duty because of injury (Junior Onyeali’s meniscus
tear), but has been solid in the role. Coleman has
started two games at defensive end and has 20 total
tackles and has also registered 1.5 sacks.

The Welcome Back Award – Will Sutton –
Sutton missed all of 2010 because of academic issues but
has been a rock in the middle of the Sun Devils’ defensive
line in 2011. He’s third on the team in tackles for loss
with 3.5.

Play of the (Half) Year – Vontaze Burfict
intercepted USC’s Matt Barkley in the 2nd quarter of the
Devils’ win over the Trojans. ASU was up by 8 points in
the 2nd quarter, and the Trojans had driven all the way
down to the ASU 12-yard line, but Burfict stepped in front
of the pass, returned it into USC territory, and the
turnover led to an Osweiler to Miles td pass that
stretched the lead to 15. Burfict’s maturity was also on
display when afterward, he helped Barkley to his feet, and
patted him on the head. In the days leading up to the
game, Barkley had called Burfict a “dirty player”. ASU
went on to beat USC 43-22 for their first victory over the
Troy Boys since 1999.

The Sun Devils start the second half of the regular season
Saturday night against 9th-ranked Oregon in Eugene. The
Devils are looking for their first win over the Ducks
since 2004.

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