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ASU Football Midseason Awards: Salamo Fiso is Defensive MVP

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There were plenty of options for ASU's Midseason Defensive MVP, but only one player could get the honor.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Editor's Note: This is part of a weeklong series looking back at the first half of the ASU football season. We will be handing out individual awards, conference awards as well as positional grades throughout the bye week.

Defensive MVP: Salamo Fiso

Arizona State's front seven is the heart and soul of the team and the leader is Fiso, the redshirt junior from Long Beach, Calif.

Fiso has been a crucial piece of a defense that, for the most part, shut down the two best running backs in the conference. Already having surpassed his total from last season, Fiso leads the team and conference in tackles for loss with 13.5 and ranks second on the team and sixth in the Pac-12 in total tackles with 59.

He's the leader of a positional group that has really shined for ASU and midway through the season, he's the team's defensive MVP.

No doubt about it.

Also considered: Antonio Longino

Coming Along: D.J. Calhoun

You haven't seen Calhoun on the field every snap of the season but when he does come on to the field, he usually makes his presence known to the opposing quarterback pretty quickly.

Calhoun seems to be the go-to guy for Todd Graham to bring into the game on third down for a variety of blitz packages. With 4.5 sacks already through seven games, the sophomore linebacker from California ranks in the top 5 in the conference and leads ASU in that category.

With Antonio Longino playing his final season as a Sun Devil, I wouldn't be surprised if Calhoun is a favorite to replace him next season.

(Statistics and rankings from pac-12.com/content/football-statistics and thesundevils.com)

Needs Improvement: The Secondary

The unit is 10th in opponent third down conversion. 10th in interceptions. 10th in pass defensive efficiency. 10th in overall pass defense.

This trend is not a good position for the Sun Devil secondary to be in through seven games. There's not just one person that needs improvement either. Outside of wide receivers, it seems to be the group most in need for improvement. In Graham's aggressive defense, the secondary gets put into man-on-man situations frequently and so far this season, the offense has won a majority of those situations.

Luckily for them, they only have one opponent remaining this season that ranks in the top half of the conference in passing offense (Cal).

One of the bright spots this season, from the secondary, has been the play of freshman cornerback Kareem Orr. With this unit slated to lose some key players next season, Orr will have to continue to develop as Graham will have to rely on a youthful group of defensive backs in the 2016 campaign.