Mike Sorensen: With the local season nearing an end, it's time to give out state college football awards
BYU's defense, the best the state has seen in years, stuffed Boise State on four straight plays from the one-yard line in a memorable goal-line stand that made the normally staid Bronco Mendenhall act giddy as a schoolgirl.
WORST DECISION III
Colorado coach Jon Embree allowing his team to kick to Utah's Reggie Dunn in the fourth quarter of a tie game. Who knows, maybe Embree would still be employed if he'd kept the ball away from a guy who had already returned three kickoffs for touchdowns in the previous month.
BEST FLASHBACK PLAY
Utah's Jake Murphy faking a run up the middle on a two-point conversion like he'd done in two previous games, but instead stopping and lobbing a pass to a wide-open David Rolf to tie the score against Colorado. It was a near-carbon copy of Ben Moa's pass to a wide-open Matt Hansen in a 2003 victory over Air Force.
MOST PUZZLING ASPECT OF USU'S AMAZING SEASON
How the Aggies could only muster 17,001, 17,222 and 19,350 fans, respectively, for the final three home games of their best season in history. I know there aren't a lot of people in Cache Valley, but c'mon, this was the best Aggie team since the days of Merlin Olsen.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN III
Southern Utah lost all four of its FCS games by a touchdown or less. Win those games and the T-Birds could have been Big Sky champs and gone to the FCS playoffs.
ALEX SMITH WHAT-DID-I-DO-WRONG? AWARD
Utah quarterback Jon Hays. The guy won six of nine games as a starter the year before, including a fourth-quarter comeback in the Sun Bowl. Then this year, filling in for injured Jordan Wynn, he beat BYU, before being benched following a 10-point loss to USC in favor of freshman Travis Wilson. The Ute coaches were clearly looking toward the future, but if the Utes had stuck with Hays, they'd likely be playing in a bowl game for the 10th straight year.
WORST TREATMENT OF AN ATHLETE
Some of the things written about BYU quarterback Riley Nelson on fan websites and said about him on talk radio were simply appalling. Perhaps Bronco Mendenhall was overly loyal to his senior quarterback and should have made a change earlier. But Nelson isn't making millions a year — he's just a college kid who busted his butt every time he got on the field. No one deserves to be beat up like he was.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, LOUIE SAKODA?
The six placekickers used by BYU, Utah, Utah State combined to make just 29 of their 48 field goal tries this year (60.4percent). Compare the 19 misses to Sakoda, who missed nine field goals total in three years at Utah, going 57 for 66 (86.3 percent).
SUU's Colton Cook, who made 19 of 22 field goal tries this year after going 14 of 19 the year before. Not bad for the former Viewmont soccer star, who never played football in high school.
GUTSIEST DECISION BY AN A.D.
Weber State athletic director Jerry Bovee making interim coach Jody Sears the permanent coach. Not many ADs would be brave enough to do that after a 2-9 season, but Bovee was impressed enough with Sears to keep him around. And he doesn't have to worry about him running off to Arkansas or somewhere and taking another job anytime soon.
BEST DECISION BY A COACH
Utah State's Gary Andersen announcing he would stay in Logan and not pursue any job offers he was sure to get after a 10-2 season. Andersen showed loyalty seldom seen in sports these days and did it without demanding a bunch of more money.
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