Final football exams are over and it's time to grade the local teams.
Utah 4-7. Grade: C plusHigh marks for improving in the area that is the key for having winning teams - defense. Low marks for consistency. In fairness to first-year head coach Ron McBride, the team's midseason slump coincided with the injury to the team's All-America caliber player, linebacker Anthony Davis. McBride will now work on getting more quality players so that he can develop the kind of depth that school to the south has. When the school to the south lost starting linebacker Jared Leavitt, it was able to replace him with a clone, Scott Giles. Not so with Utah when its players were injured. Davis, however, is irreplaceable. He should be a strong candidate for the Butkus Award next season.
The Utes would have graded higher but for a sputtering offense. Utah figures to do better as the players adapt to McBride's system. Injuries created a quarterback merry-go-round that will need to be avoided if the Utes are to develop a solid offense. The offensive line was so troublesome that McBride had to take a hands on approach at practice early in the season. Undoubtedly due to offensive line woes the Utes were erratic at runningback. If they could get a JC transfer like Utah State did with Roger Grant, it would put McBride on track for the kind of balanced offense he wants.
BYU 10-2. Grade: A
But for the Hawaii game, it would be an A plus. The season marked two of the three biggest achievements in BYU history: The Heisman Trophy for quarterback Ty Detmer and the victory over then No. 1 Miami. The Miami game gave the program more credibility than it received in 1984 when BYU won the national championship. Bryant Gumbel's refrain of "Bo Diddly Tech" was an irksome footnote to that accomplishment. The 28-21 triumph over the Hurricanes is easily the biggest win in BYU history. It also played a pivotal part in Detmer's getting the Heisman Trophy. At times this team played better than any previous BYU squad, though it lacked the consistency of the `84 bunch. After first-half lapses against Washington State and San Diego State and the loss to Oregon, the Cougars went on a run over the next six games where they outscored their opponents 296-93 and clobbered the three other WAC bowl teams Colorado State (52-9), Air Force (54-7) and Wyoming (45-14). The team finished second in the country in scoring and total offense. The offensive line gave Detmer time to set the all-time single season passing yardage record, 5,188 yards. The defense bottled up all WAC teams except Hawaii. A project for next year will be replacing the offensive and defensive lines and top four receivers (Andy Boyce, Chris Smith, Matt Bellini and Brent Nyberg).
Utah State 5-5-1. Grade: B After getting a C-minus the first half of the season the Aggies get an A the second half. They tied perennial league power Fresno State at Fresno and gave league champion San Jose State fits at San Jose. Once JC transfer Ron Lopez got the offense down, the Aggies were formidable, going 4-2-1 against a tough schedule in their last seven games. This marked the first year the Aggies have finished at .500 since 1981. This was Coach Chuck Shelton's best team - a veteran defensive squad with a balanced offensive attack. JC transfer Roger Grant gained more than 1,300 yards and was one of the top-rated rushers in the country. Lopez and Grant return next year but the schedule is brutal. The Aggies start out against Utah, Nebraska, Oklahoma, San Jose State and BYU.
Weber State 5-6. Grade: B
The Wildcats made considerable improvement in Dave Arslanian's second year. Quarterback Jamie Martin, only a sophomore, led Division I-AA in total offense and directed Weber State to a number of impressive showings, which included a 21-12 loss to Wyoming at Laramie, a game where the Wildcats gained more yardage than the Cowboys. Midway through the season Weber State made the Div. I-AA rankings, being ranked No. 18. And, the Wildcats could easily have been 7-4. Against the University of Montana they missed a field goal from the 8-yard line in the closing seconds and lost, 39-37. Against Northern Arizona the Wildcats fumbled the ball on the 1-yard line in a 38-35 loss.