The Mountain West has had very little luck landing players in the Heisman discussion, the biggest omission has to be former San Diego State running back Marshall Faulk who was somehow the runner up to Miami quarterback Gino Torreta back in 1992. Well, that was to be my topic for Hesiman snub, but Cowboy Altitude did a piece on why Faulk should have won, really he should have.
My decision in looking back at Heisman Trophy history is to take a look at 2008 and former Utah Utes quarterback Brian Johnson who led that team to an undefeated season that was capped by defeating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Also, I chose this player because there were not many others in Mountain West history who were all that close at sniffing the Heisman Trophy. Plus, I think at the worst Johnson should have been nominated.
His stats do not match up to Sam Bradford who won the award or to quarterback Colt McCoy of Texas, or even Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell. However, sometimes the award goes to the best player on the best team even when the stats may or may not be there.
Johnson fits that mold as Utah was one of two undefeated team in the country -- the other being Boise State -- however, his fame came by defeating Alabama who had been No. 1 for most of the season. If the Heisman voting came after the bowl games I am certain that Johnson would have been a nominee.
For those who followed that team, he led the offense probably better than offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, and he called the important drives against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
However, there were members of the Harris poll who openly admitted to not seeing Utah play that year, and I can confidently say the same went for some Heisman voters.
However, Johnson made the plays in game to get his team to victory. The first of such was in a comeback against Oregon State, a team who a week prior upset top ranked USC:
Here are highlights from Utah's 25-23 win over Michigan that saw Johnson throw for 305 yards and a touchdown:
The season finale against rival BYU that was a 48-24 beat down:
Johnson just got the wins for that 2008 Utah team and was one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He just did not play in an offense where he aired out 40 times a game, but one that was a spread option attack that was run first. However, if a play was needed there would be no other player at quarterback I would have wanted on my team.
Just go back and look how he earned wins against Oregon State, or the first half of the Sugar Bowl where Utah went out to a 21-0 lead in no time. Maybe if Johnson played in a better league he would have been at least invited to New York.
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