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WSU’s Gardner Minshew, UW’s Ben Burr-Kirven take Pac-12’s top honors

WSU’s Mike Leach has been named the Pac-12’s Coach of the Year.

Adam Jude

The state of Washington boasts college football’s leading passer and college football’s leading tackler. Both were recognized with the Pac-12 Conference’s highest individual awards on Tuesday.

Washington State senior quarterback Gardner Minshew has been named the Pac-12’s Offensive Player of the Year, and Washington senior linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven has been named the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year.

It’s just the second time in Pac-12 history that a Cougar and a Husky have been the conference players of the year in the same year, following Drew Bledsoe and Dave Hoffmann in 1992.

And, in a vote of conference coaches, WSU’s Mike Leach has been named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year. It’s the second time Leach has won the award, after sharing it with Stanford’s David Shaw in 2015.

Minshew and Leach helped lead a Cougars team, picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 North, to a 10-2 season and a berth in the Alamo Bowl against Iowa State.

Minshew, a graduate transfer from East Carolina, is the Cougars’ first offensive player of the year since Jason Gesser shared the award with USC’s Carson Palmer in 2002.

Minshew finished the regular season leading the FBS with an average of 373.1 yards passing, plus 36 touchdown passes against nine interceptions. He was named Monday the winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

Burr-Kirven, a senior from Menlo Park, Calif., leads the FBS with 165 tackles, the most by a Husky since James Clifford (168 tackles) in 1989. Burr-Kirven is the second Husky in as many years to win Pac-12 defensive player of the year, following Vita Vea in 2017.

Last week, Burr-Kirven was named the Pac-12’s Scholar Athlete of the Year in football, an award established in 2007. He is the first football player to be named the conference’s Scholar Athlete of the Year and Player of the Year.

On Monday, Burr-Kirven was named to the all-Pac-12 academic first team for the third time.

WSU’s Pac-12 offensive players of the year

1984 — Rueben Mayes, RB
1985 — Rueben Mayes, RB
1989 — Steve Broussard, RB
1992 — Drew Bledsoe, QB
1997 — Ryan Leaf, QB
2002 — Jason Gesser, QB/Carson Palmer, QB, USC
2018 — Gardner Minshew, QB

UW’s Pac-12 defensive players of the year

1990 — Steve Emtman, DL
1991 — Steve Emtman, DL
1992 — Dave Hoffmann, LB
1996 — Jason Chorak, DL
2017 — Vita Vea, DL
2018 — Ben Burr-Kirven, LB

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