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2014 Pacific Takes Awards from Jack Follman: Mark Helfrich Coach of the Year

Pacific Takes' Jack Follman hands out some Pac-12 awards for the 2014 season.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 Player of the Year - Marcus Mariota Jr. QB Oregon

I don't like to completely break up offensive and defensive player of the year, because I like to hand out an award to be best player regardless of where they play on the field and let's not act like this usually won't basically be offensive player of the year anyway. No one in the right mind won't give that award to Mariota this season. Mariota's efficiency at quarterback is like nothing seen before in college football and his ability to keep the Ducks afloat in early games where they were struggling saved their season and his ability to kick into another gear once that got rolling put a great distance between Oregon and the rest of the conference.

Defensive Player of the Year - Scooby Wright So. LB Arizona

Arizona may be known for their offense, but Wrights ascension into a full blown defensive star is a big part of why the Wildcats won the South. Also, his strip of Mariota to basically seal Arizona's upset of Oregon is probably the defensive play of the year in the Pac-12.

Coach of the Year - Mark Helfrich Oregon

Rich Rodriguez seems like the easy choice here, but he got more miraculous breaks than any other coach in the Pac-12 and got smashed in the Pac-12 Championship Game to burn out a lot of his momentum. I am going with Helfrich who took a team that though very talented and well-schemed, looked to be coming back down to Earth in early-October, got their attention and blazed through the rest of the conference without even a near hiccup. He dealt with massive injuries up front, a defense that struggled mightily early in the season and completely turned it around to give Oregon their best shot at a national championship in school history (in my opinion).

Special Teams Player of the Year - Kaelin Clay Sr. Utah

Most people know Clay as the guy who dropped the ball before scoring a touchdown against Oregon and that's too bad because he was ridiculous as a return man in 2014, taking four back for touchdowns.

Two-way Player of the Year - Shaq Thompson Jr. LB/RB Washington

Needed to kind of an invent an award for Thompson, but with the way so many players are playing both ways these days, don't be surprised if this becomes a more common category. Either way, when you are a guy who can rip off touchdowns on defense the way Thompson did in 2014 and then step over and run for 100 yards plus, you deserve an award.

Comeback Player of the Year - Travis Wilson Jr. QB Utah

Wilson had his ups and downs in 2014, but ultimately ended up throwing for 2000-plus yards, 17 touchdowns to four interceptions while rushing for 218 and two more while playing a part in Utah's turnaround. A great run for a player whose career was in jeopardy at this time last year.

Most-Improved Player - Jordan Payton Jr. WR UCLA

Payton went from being a solid possession-type receiver that put up some yards and got a touchdown a season to one of the best receivers in the conference.

Unsung Hero - Jared Tevis Sr. S Arizona

Scooby Wright "wrightfully" gets most of the attention, but don't forget about the senior Tevis who holds down the back for the Wildcats, racks up tackles and can come up and get a sack when needed.

Play of the Year - The Hill Mary

A game-winning complete Hail Mary is hard to beat, especially when it caps off a furious comeback and ends up being part of what pushes Arizona to the South championship.

Game of the Year - Arizona at Oregon

A back-and-forth monumental upset that was a serious nail-biter late, featured some great offensive and defensive play, had some controversy and basically ended with the defensive play of the year. Also, up until this year, this game would have been even more hugely pivotal as it likely would have kept the Ducks out of the BCS Championship Game in the BCS era.

Dark Alley Award - Danny Shelton Sr. DT Washington

Simply the last guy you would want to run into in a dark alley in the Pac-12 this year was Shelton who was simply ridiculous at defensive tackle for the Huskies as he finished near the Pac-12 lead in tackles as a 335-pound nose tackle. Shelton also had a lot of the nasty and intimidation that is rapidly disappearing from modern college football, making Washington a team that was very difficult to run up the middle against.

Offensive Lineman of the Year - Jake Fisher Sr. T Oregon

These guys simply still do not get enough respect, so I think they need their own award. All you need to look at to see how good Fisher is, is Oregon's rushing ability and pass protection when he was out and then look at it when he was back. You could make an argument by looking at this that he was the conference's most-valuable player this season. Seriously.

Luckiest team of the Year - Arizona

I respect Arizona's record and how Rich Rodriguez took a team with a freshman quarterback and a questionable defense to the Pac-12 Championship Game while replacing Ka'Deem Carey, but there is simply no getting around the fact that they got a lot of big breaks along the way. They got miraculous plays to beat Cal and Washington when they were toast, got Oregon in a week where there is a good chance they were so battered that the majority of Pac-12 teams would have beaten them and avoided a bad match-up for them in Stanford. They easily could have gone 4-5 in Pac-12 play.

Least lucky team of the Year - Colorado

Oh poor Colorado. They finished 0-9 in Pac-12 play, but easily could have been 4-5 or even 5-4. They were much improved in 2014, but whenever they needed a break it just never seemed to go their way.

Team that was a lot closer to 10 wins than it might seem - Stanford

It was a very disappointing season for the defending two-time Pac-12 champs, but they were a lot closer to a being a Top 10/10-win team than it might seem. They should have beaten USC and Notre Dame and easily could have beaten Utah in their overtime loss and the only game you could say "well they easily could have lost that one though" is maybe Washington. I don't think the gap between the 2014-15 Stanford teams is as big as it seems on paper, and personally, I think it has a lot to do with how little margin for error their system allows for them to have and still win games.