Ford, Tafua Named Morris Trophy Recipients
SEATTLE – The University of Utah Football program swept the Pac-12's highest honors for linemen today with Mika Tafua winning the 2021 Defensive Morris Trophy and Nick Ford being named the recipient of the 2021 Offensive Morris Trophy.
The awards are given out each season to the most outstanding offensive and defensive linemen in the conference. The voting process is unique to the Pac-12 with the league's starting defensive linemen voting for the offensive winner and vice versa, making it an award given out annually as a players' award.
Utah is the fourth Pac-12 program to win on both the offensive and defensive side in the same year since the award was created in 1980. Ford and Tafua bring Utah's Morris Trophy winners to six, joining Star Lotulelei (DL, 2011), Nate Orchard (DL, 2014), Isaac Asiata (OL, 2016) and Bradlee Anae (DL, 2019).
Ford has been the leader on the Utah offensive line this season, starting in all 13 games this season between center and left guard. The All-Pac-12 first-team selection was one of just two returning offensive linemen in the country in 2021 that has started at every position on the line.
Ford has been key in the Utes ranking second in the Pac-12 and 14th nationally in rushing offense (216.1) with Utah also ranking seventh in the FBS and second in the league in sacks allowed (12). The Utes led the Pac-12 in total offense (454.89) and rushing offense (240.78) during conference play with the Utes only allowing five sacks during that time.
Tafua is helping lead a Utah defense that ranks 12th in the FBS and first in the Pac-12 in total defense, allowing just 315.4 yards of offense per game. The Utes also rank 12th nationally in tackles for loss per game (7.4) and fifth in total sacks (42.0).
Tafua, who also earned All-Pac-12 first-team this season, has started all 13 games with 48 total tackles (13.0 TFL, 9.5 sacks). He leads the Pac-12 and ranks 25th nationally in total sacks (9.5), notching at least an assisted sack in nine of Utah's 13 games this season.
He has had at least one tackle for loss in six of Utah's last seven games, which included a 12-yard sack during the Utes' Pac-12 Championship victory over Oregon. He tied his season-high three times with six tackles at Oregon State, Stanford and Arizona.
Ford, Tafua and the Utes will return to action on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, when they play in the Rose Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The game is set for a 2 p.m. PT/3 p.m. MT kick and will air on ESPN.