Mid-Season Awards: C-USA
By Dan Harralson
The 2013 college football season is halfway finished, or for some it has just begun.
It's time to hand out the mid-season awards for Conference USA.
Best Quarterback: It would be easy give ECU's Shane Carden this award with stats he has put up so far. Carden is one of five quarterbacks nationally to throw for 2,000 or more yards on the season. His 2,017 passing yards rank fifth overall in the nation; however the mid-season award goes to Rakeem Cato of Marshall. Cato is undefeated in the conference and has put up great stats himself. His 1,572 passing yards rank 27th nationally and Cato has thrown for 12 touchdowns.
Best Running Back: Tulsa may be struggling, but Trey Watts still is C-USA's best back. Watts ranks 28th nationally in rushing yards (565) and has scored four touchdowns rushing.
Best Wide Receiver: The numbers for ECU's Justin Hardy: 57 receptions, 639 yards, and 3 TDs. Hardy brings in the mid-season honor.
Best Tight End: Kennard Backman of UAB is the conference's best tight end after Week 6. Backman has reeled in 19 catches, 209 yards and two touchdowns.
Best Team Offensive Lineman: This is why Rice is so good. They have a stellar offensive line. They're pounding the ball right at 200 rushing yards per game and have scored 10 rushing touchdowns. The offensive line is a key reason the Owls are unbeaten in conference play.
Best Defensive Player: Lorenzo Doss of Tulane deserves this honor with four interceptions.
Best Team Defense: This goes to Marshall. The Thundering Herd's D is ranked 10th in the nation, giving up a mere 298.2 yards per game. Tack on 10 picks, three forced fumbles, and 15 sacks, and you understand why Marshall is in prime position for games against Tulsa and ECU in November.
Best Kicker: This easily could go to the defending Lou Groza winner, Cairo Santos. But we have a tie. Santos and UAB's Ty Long are just as important to their team and both have put up mirror-image stats. Long is 11-of-15 on the year while Santos is 12-of-16.
Best Punter: UAB's Hunter Mullins is the highest-rated C-USA punter nationally. Mullins is 32nd in the nation with a 43.1 punting average.
Best Coach: Curtis Johnson. This is a no-brainer. All Johnson has done is go 3-0 in the conference, including a win over ECU, and stands one game shy of making Tulane bowl eligible for the first time since 2002.