IT WAS ONLY just about a year ago that Mike Riley was searching for answers in the punting game and said he was considering a change at the position. Ever since, Johnny Hekker has been lights out -- a second half surge in ’08, a special teams MVP award in the Beavs’ bowl game and being put on scholarship this past July. And now he’s a semi-finalist for the top punting award in the land for ‘09.
Oregon State sophomore Hekker is one of 10 semi-finalists for the 2009 Ray Guy Award, given annually to the nation’s top punter.
Hekker, from Bothell, Wash., walked on at OSU prior to the 2008 season and was later put on scholie this past summer. He was named the 2008 Sun Bowl Special Teams MVP after booting 10 punts for an average of 45 yards in blustery conditions in El Paso during the Beavs’ win.
This season, Hekker is averaging 42.7 yards per punt. He has had 15 punts downed inside the 20-yard-line, five touchbacks and nine kicks of 50-plus yards.
Hekker is joined on the semifinalist list by Drew Butler of Georgia, Peter Caldwell of Utah State, Desi Cullen of Connecticut, Ryan Donahue of Iowa, Chas Henry of Florida, Jeff Locke of UCLA, Rob Long of Syracuse, Zoltan Mesko of Michigan and Matt Reagan of Memphis
The winner of the Ray Guy Award will be announced as part of the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show Dec. 10, 2009. The formal presentation of the award will be held in late January in Georgia at the All Area Football Banquet presented by the Augusta Sports Council and The Augusta Chronicle.
PUBLIC ADDRESS ANNOUNCER Mike Stone will not be at the game today in order to be with his ailing father. It will be the first game he has missed since he began the gig back in 1997.
HUSKIES COACH Steve Sarkisian is looking to help out his secondary by finding more ways to get to the quarterback.
“It’s frustrating because I thought we had a good bead on what they were doing,” Sarkisian said earlier this week. “We had a good bead on what (UCLA was) going to run at us, and we were able to attack them, but we just weren’t able to get it done. It is frustrating, especially when it was a third-and-12 or things of that nature.”
WITH 11 YARDS rushing today, second-year sophomore Jacquizz Rodgers will hit the 1,000 yard mark for the second straight season. Rodgers currently sits at No. 15 in the nation at 109.9 ypg. The UW ranks No. 89 in the nation out of 120 D-IA teams at stopping the run.
OREGON STATE OPENED as a 10 ½ point favorite in Vegas earlier this week. The line has since climbed to 13 ½ points.
EARLIER THIS WEEK, Quizz was named one of 10 semifinalists for the 20th annual Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation’s top running back in the Football Bowl Subdivision (D-IA).
He was also named to the 16-player Maxwell Award (top overall player) semifinalist list last week.
The sophomore running back is on the cusp of his second straight 1,000 yards season headed into the home finale against Washington today.
The semifinalist list this year includes Toby Gerhart of Stanford, Donald Buckram of UTEP, Jonathan Dwyer of Georgia Tech, Mark Ingram of Alabama, Dion Lewis of Pittsburgh, Ryan Mathews of Fresno State, C.J. Spiller of Clemson, Ben Tate of Auburn and Ryan Williams of Virginia Tech.
The winner of the Doak Walker Award will be announced Dec 10, 2009.