It has been one of the craziest and transitional first halves of the Pac-12 season I can ever remember. With half the season down, I figured it would be a great time to take some stock and hand out some mid-season awards and honors.
Pac-12 Player of the Year - Jake Browning So. QB Washington
Browning has had a major star turn so far in 2016 and it’s a big part of why the Huskies are now a legit Playoff contender and the clear Pac-12 favorite. He is on pace for more than 50 touchdowns this season.
Defensive Player of the Year - Azeem Victor Jr. LB Washington
Victor has nearly 50 tackles thus far this season, but stats don’t really gauge the impact of the conference’s best intimidator and the leader of the conference’s best defense.
Coach of the Year - Chris Petersen Washington
Mike MacIntyre would be a fine choice as well, but I will give Petersen the edge because he is taking him to the highest level of college football right now.
Biggest surprise - Colorado
I thought there was a very good chance the Buffs would turn the corner and get to a bowl this year, but I didn’t think they could win five out of their first seven, especially without Sefo Liufau in some of them. Well done Coach MacIntyre.
Biggest disappointment - Oregon
Tough call between Oregon and Stanford here, but I will go with the Ducks because of how spectacularly bad they have been. The Ducks are injured, winless in the Pac-12 and fresh off back-to-back blowouts at the hands of Washington and Washington State. Dark days in Eugene indeed.
Special Teams Player of the Year - Mitch Wishnowsky So. P Utah
Tom Hackett’s heir apparent has been killing it. He leads the nation is average yards per-punt and has twice been named the Ray Guy Punter of the Week.
Freshman of the Year - Steven Montez QB Colorado
He stepped in when Sefo Liufau went down and led the Buffs to huge wins at Oregon (passing for 300 plus with 3 TDs while rushing for 130 plus and a TD) and at home in a blowout over Oregon State. He also almost led the Buffs over USC on the road.
Newcomer of the Year - Davis Webb Sr. QB Cal
Webb has stepped in for Jared Goff and kept the Bears in about the same place they were last year with the top pick of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Most-Improved Player - Jake Browning So. QB Washington
Browning went from solid, young quarterback to leading Heisman candidate.
QB Jake Browning So. Washington - 26 touchdowns in six games while leading Washington to a 6-0 ranking as the leader of the team, Petersen may have found his Kellen Moore and more.
RB Royce Freeman Jr. Oregon - He has been overshadowed by Oregon’s overall struggles and missed time to injury, but he has 513 yards and seven touchdowns on just 67 carries.
RB Christian McCaffrey Jr. Stanford - The other Pac-12 star running back who has been overshadowed by his team’s struggles and slowed by injuries. Still, he has nearly 700 yards combined rushing/receiving with every team gunning on him and four scores.
WR Chad Hansen Jr. Cal - Exploded as the conference’s best receiver. Hansen already has 59 receptions for 770 yards and eight touchdowns.
WR John Ross Jr. Washington - Ross’ return from injuries which made him miss all of 2015 has been huge for the Huskies. He already has nearly 400 yards receiving and nine receiving scores and another rushing.
TE Nate Iese Sr. UCLA - The senior has taken a major step forward. He already has 15 receptions for 225 yards and two scores.
OL Coleman Shelton Jr. Washington - The man in the center of Washington’s revolutionized offensive line which is fresh off bulldozing Stanford and Oregon.
OL Johnny Caspers Sr. Stanford - Turning into the next great Cardinal guard.
OL Trey Adams So. Washington - The 6’8 left tackle is turning into a monster and has the look of a future All-American and first round pick.
OL Isaac Asiata Sr. Utah - Has stepped up with J.J. Dielman going down.
OL Zach Banner Sr. USC - Hasn’t had his best season, but is still a first teamer in a bad start for offensive linemen in the Pac-12.
DL Solomon Thomas Jr. Stanford - He has emerged as Stanford’s next great defensive player up front. He leads the team in tackles and has six for-loss with four sacks and a touchdown.
DL Greg Gaines So. Washington - The Huskies are beyond stacked on the defensive line and Gaines has performed the most. He has 7.5 tackles for-loss and 3.5 sacks.
DL Hercules Mata’afa So. Washington State - One of the best defenders in the nation you haven’t heard of. He has more than 20 tackles, 9.5 tackles for-loss, 3 sacks and a safety.
DL Elijah Qualls Jr. Washington - He has great stats (19 tackles, four for-loss, two sacks), but they still don’t tell the story of how big of an impact he has had holding the point of attack and penetrating the backfield.
LB Azeem Victor Jr. Washington - The backbone of the conference’s best defense.
LB Jayon Brown Sr. UCLA - Leads the conference with tackles at 63 and is the leader of a very, very good UCLA defense.
LB Cameron Smith So. USC - The budding star already has 50 tackles this season.
DB Sidney Jones Jr. Washington - He doesn’t have huge stats, but that is because no one is throwing against him.
DB Kevin King Sr. Washington - Same thing with King as Jones. One of the best Pac-12 corner combos in the long, long time.
DB Adoree’ Jackson Jr. USC - Having his best coverage season this year. Already has six pass break ups.
DB Marcus Williams Jr. Utah - Having another All-American level season and already has three interceptions.
K Zane Gonzalez Sr. Arizona State - Leads the conference in field goal percentage while kicking a lot of them.
P Mitch Wishnowsky So. Utah - Leads the nation in yardage per-punt.
R Adoree’ Jackson Jr. USC - Has already taken a punt and kick back and leads the conference in kick return yardage.
QB Luke Falk Jr. Washington State
RB Phillip Lindsay Jr. Colorado
RB Myles Gaskin So. Washington
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster Jr. USC
WR Shay Fields Jr. Colorado
TE Tyler Petite So. USC
OL Kaleb McGary So. Washington
OL Jake Eldrenkamp Sr. Washington
OL Jacob Alsadek Jr. ARizona
OL Alex Kelley Sr. Colorado
OL Riley Sorenson Sr. Washington State
DL Lowell Lotulelei Jr. Utah
DL Takkarist McKinley Sr. UCLA
DL Jimmie Gilbert Sr. Colorado
DL Pasoni Tasini Sr. Utah
LB Joe Mathis Sr. Washington
LB Koron Crump Jr. Arizona State
LB Kenny Young Jr. UCLA
DB Shalom Luani Sr. Washington State
DB Budda Baker Jr. Washington
DB Ahkello Witherspoon Sr. Colorado
DB Randall Goforth Sr. UCLA
K Matt Anderson Jr. Cal
P Matt Haack Sr. Arizona State
R Victor Bolden Sr. Oregon State