It might seem like a bad idea to hand out awards to a team that is just halfway through the season and halfway through a bad season at that, but perhaps some positive reinforcement for those doing well will lift the spirits of the entire team. Or something like that.
Anyway, here are your midseason award winners.
Midseason Offensive Player of Year - Nate Cole
A Bloodborne-ian nightmare awaits those who imagine the Cincinnati Bearcats offense without Cole. He has easily been the most reliable and outstanding offensive threat for the UC offense and has made plays in the passing game regardless of who is throwing the ball. He leads the team in receptions (35) and touchdown catches (four) while accumulating 364 yards. He has at least five catches in five of six games and has been held below 60 yards only once.
Midseason Defensive Player of the Year - Eric Wilson
Let this be yet another reminder that Wilson is in the midst of a stellar season, his last as a Bearcat. With 65 tackles he is far and away the best stopper of ball carriers, which the next-best tackler Antonio Kinard with only 45 stops. Wilson has not just waited in the defensive backfield to make plays, however, recording 5.5 tackles for loss and a team-high 3.0 sacks.
Midseason Special Teams Player of the Year - Sam Geraci
In general, the Bearcats have been an average-trending-toward-bad specials teams unit. They rank 68th in the country in field goal efficiency rate (hurt obviously by the injury to Andrew Gantz), 72nd in kick return efficiency, 118th in kickoff efficiency, while opponents have generally had semi-favorable starting points. However, Geraci has helped the team be a top 40 team in punt efficiency (No. 38). He may only be averaging 41 yards per punt, but he has downed 10 inside of the 20-yard-line and has not had one blocked. Since the offense has not been rolling over opponents, Geraci’s talents and consistency have been needed.
Midseason Rookie of the Year - Devin Gray
Although not a true freshman, or a freshman at all, the JUCO transfer is still new to the FBS ranks. He has established himself as the second option after Cole and has a team-high 442 yards on 29 receptions. After tallying nine grabs for 98 yards against UConn, he has now had at least four catches in five of six games and he also has the only 100-yard effort from any Bearcat receiver this season.
Midseason Most Improved Player of the Year - Mike Tyson
With the ability to play both safety and linebacker, Tyson has taken to his role in the UC defense quite well. He has been extremely adept at making plays on the ball, with four passes defended and three interceptions. He also is on pace for a carer-high in tackles, with 25 through six games. His previous personal best occurred in 2014 when he had 41 stops in 13 games. Tyson doesn’t just drop back in coverage and has been wont to turn a ball carrier back behind the line with 3.5 tackles for loss, more than doubling his career total entering the season.
Midseason Game of the Year - at Purdue
Serious consideration was given to the game against Houston. After all, for the first three quarters, UC hung right with Houston and even took a 16-12 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter. The levy broke from there, but it was in those three quarters that the Bearcats showed that there is still some hope lurking around in this 3-3 monstrosity of a team.
However, a 24-point loss is nothing to be proud of, especially when you have a win against a Big Ten team in your pocket. Hayden Moore threw for three touchdowns and rushed for two more, Cole caught six passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns and Mike Boone’s 78 yards helped the Bearcats amass 262 yards on the ground in a 38-20 triumph. On defense, UC forced five interceptions, three of which were collected by Tyson. It may have been downhill from there, but that second Saturday of the season was a high point.