Defensive Player of the Midseason: Blake Countess, CB. Receivers have beaten Countess a couple times over the top, but unfortunately for them, the quarterback hasn't been able to hit them. Regardless, Countess is bouncing between cornerback and slot corner fairly well, coming in fifth in total tackles (27) with 2 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions, and 3 more pass breakups; one of those picks was returned 72 yards for a touchdown against Minnesota.
MVP of the Midseason: Taylor Lewan, OT. Aside from being an outstanding pass blocker, Lewan has been a stellar run blocker as well. Of course, it doesn't show in the rushing statistics. But Michigan tries to run off left tackle or flip Lewan to the right side if they want to go right. The guy is tough and works hard, and I think his mentality helps the team almost as much as his physical skills.
Rookie of the Midseason: Jake Butt, TE.No freshmen are making a huge impact at this point, but tight end Jake Butt is quietly having a solid debut season with 7 receptions for 67 yards and some solid blocking. He has shown some nice body control in catching some low passes, but he probably has a couple jump ball-type passes he would like to have another chance to catch.
Coach of the Midseason: Mark Smith, linebackers coach. The linebackers might be the strongest unit on the team. Weakside linebacker James Ross leads the team with 50 tackles and has 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery. Middle linebacker Desmond Morgan is second on the team with 47 tackles, adding 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, and 2 pass breakups. Morgan turned in a spectacular one-handed interception and 29-yard return against UConn. Meanwhile, converted defensive end Brennen Beyer (18 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks) has been splitting time with Cam Gordon (15 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks) at SAM linebacker while Jake Ryan (5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss) has been returning from his ACL tear. The SAM trio has combined for 31 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks, which are some pretty good numbers for the position.
Disappointing Player of the Midseason: Devin Gardner, QB. The hype for Gardner was off the charts in the off-season, with coaches, analysts, and players talking about how good he was going to be. At times Gardner has looked excellent (against Notre Dame, second half against Penn State, flashes in every game), but overall, the numbers and ball security have been unimpressive. With 10 interceptions and numerous fumbles after just six games, he's been extremely frustrating to watch if you're a Michigan fan.
Disappointing Coach of the Midseason: Al Borges, offensive coordinator. Borges, who doubles as the quarterbacks coach, has lacked creativity in his play calling recently. The Penn State game was extremely vanilla except for some odd unbalanced formations that included using poor blocking tight end A.J. Williams as a left tackle and generally running to the strength in some very obvious formations and situations. Borges has struggled to make his quarterback comfortable, and that has resulted in turnover after turnover. Overall, the team is averaging just 4.2 yards/carry, even though the most consistent rusher (Gardner) averages 5.5 yards/pop. Michigan's scoring average is good enough for #11 in the country, but the sky would be the limit if they had a consistent running threat aside from Gardner.
Game of the Midseason: Penn State. Michigan is yet to have a completely dominating performance where both the offense and the defense clicked. I refuse to choose the 59-9 win against Central Michigan, since both the starting running back and starting quarterback for the Chippewas were injured early in the game. The Penn State game was exciting for lots of wrong reasons (overtimes, missed field goals, blocked field goals, interceptions, big plays, etc.), but it was nonetheless exciting. Michigan lost 43-40 in four overtimes, unfortunately.
Play of the Midseason: Desmond Morgan's interception against UConn. Quite possibly the most exciting play of the year was Desmond Morgan's one-handed pick against the Connecticut Huskies. He got depth to get underneath a post route, leaped up, and pulled the ball down with his right hand. A 29-yard return ensued in which he showed some nice vision, if not some decent speed for a MIKE linebacker.