BYU Cougars – 2011 Football in Review

Editor’s Note: For this season in review, Matt and Carl have collaborated on their first piece together.

2011 is almost in the books.  All we have left to look forward to as BYU fans this season is the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 30 in Dallas against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.  Before we get there, we thought we would review the season and hand out a few year-end awards and grades.

Before we get to the grades and year-end awards, let’s just revisit some of the key moments of the past year:

Spring Ball – Spring ball couldn’t have arrived soon enough.  As previously detailed here Matt was desperate for any BYU news.  At this point, Jake Heaps had been declared the starter and there was no concern for him losing his job.  He lost the Spring Game to Riley Nelson but it’s just spring, so who cares, right?

Independence Day – July 1 arrived with as much fanfare as could possibly be expected.  Utah fans celebrated at the State capital as they entered official membership in the new PAC 12 and BYU fans everywhere celebrated Independence.  I dare say this was the biggest Independence Day since July 4, 1776.

Fall Camp – Fall camp opened and Heaps was the unquestioned starter.  He finished 2010 strong, had a solid spring and summer, and was looking to build on the domination of the New Mexico Bowl.  Brandon Doman was finally instituting his new throwback pro-style offense, and there was so much buzz around this team it was nearly tangible.  The team practiced so well over the first few weeks of camp that Bronco broke camp early and began preparing for Ole Miss.

Season-Long Distractions – From the first game, the distractions started.  At Ole Miss, Heaps threw a pick that he danced around instead of going after the guy who picked it off.  Drives were stalling in the red zone.  54-10. The benching mid-way through the 3rd quarter against Utah State and the miracle comeback led by Riley Nelson.  Heaps gets benched going forward but a lack of a definitive decision lends to another quarterback controversy.  Punting unit problems aplenty against TCU and an injury to Nelson that further added to the QB hullabaloo.  And a final culmination less than 48 hours after Hawaii when Heaps announced his immediate transfer from the school.  Oh, and you can’t have a complete list if you don’t mention missing (or not missing, depending on your personal point of view) on alignment with two major BCS conferences and all the distractions that accompanied.

Post Season – And what will the post season bring?  The Cougars are playing in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.  A team that has lost four times this season to opponents all inside the top 10 at the time the game was played.  (Check back on our blog for additional posts to come about a bowl game preview and a post season checklist for the Cougars.)

So, without further ado, here are the annual year-end awards, grades, and top play nominees from the Academically Ineligibles.

Award Matt’s Pick Carl’s Pick
Offensive MVP Cody Hoffman Riley Nelson
Defensive MVP Kyle Van Noy Kyle Van Noy
Earned His Letterman Jacket Jordan Pendleton Brandon Ogletree
Most Improved Player Riley Nelson Riley Nelson
Most Improved Unit Receivers and Tight Ends together Tight Ends
Player to Watch in 2012 Kyle Van Noy Ross Apo
Coach to Watch in 2012 Joe Dupaix Brandon Doman
Senior You Will Miss Most Jordan Pendleton Matt Reynolds
The Unsung Hero Hebron Fangupo Jordan Johnson
Biggest Surprise Player Michael Alisa Michael Alisa
Grades Matt’s Grades Carl’s Grades
Offense Overall C + B –
Quarterbacks B B
Running Backs B – B
Wide Receivers B + B +
Tight Ends B B
Offensive Line C + A –
Defense Overall B + A –
Linemen B + A –
Linebackers A – A
Secondary B – B +
Special Teams D + D
Coaching Staff C + C –
Turning Point of Season Riley Nelson Comeback – USU Quarterback Switch to Nelson

Top 3 Plays of the Year

Matt’s Choices

Carl’s Choices

3. The Riley Nelson Miracle Comeback against Utah State 3. Hoffman touchdown at Hawaii
2. Cody Hoffman kickoff return and the JD Falslev punt return 2. Hoffman vs. Oregon State.  Here’s his play of the year nomination.
1. Heaps incomplete long pass to Apo in 3rd Quarter.  I was sitting next to a 10 year old who shouted “That was right in his bread basket.  My little sister could have made that catch.”  Made me realize that generations that follow will continue to be passionate about BYU football. 1. Van Noy fumble recovery in end zone against Ole Miss 
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