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Francis Bernard named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week

NCAA Football: Utah at Brigham Young Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

You know last week’s game was sweet for Francis Bernard, who beat up on his old team in Provo. There was plenty of drama for Bernard as he was leaving Provo, but he was able to let off some of that frustration in Utah’s 30-12 win last Thursday. Francis caught the attention of those around the conference and won the Defensive Player of the Week aware for the Pac-12. The highlight, of course, was the 58-yard pick six that put Utah ahead 9-3, after Bradlee Anae made a killer play of his own on that particular play. Bernard snuffed out multiple plays from BYU, and was all over the field, and filled Chase Hansen or Cody Barton’s shoes very nicely. After was Bernard has been through the last couple of seasons, it’s awesome to see him really step forward as a leader on this defense, and to get the recognition he deserves.

Here’s the full press release from the Utah SID that gives a bit more details on the award for Bernard:

SAN FRANCISCO – University of Utah linebacker Francis Bernard has been named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in Utah’s 30-12 victory over rival BYU, the first Pac-12 player of the week honor of his career.

Bernard, who transferred to Utah from BYU in 2018, shined for the Utes in his third career start, recording four tackles that included 1.5 tackles for loss and a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown. The Herriman, Utah, native is currently on track to graduate in December with a degree in sociology.

His pick-six was the first of his career and his 58-yard return was the second-longest in the Pac-12 in week one. It was his second interception as a Ute and fifth of his career after notching three at BYU.

Bernard was integral in Utah shutting down BYU’s offensive threats, starting in the first quarter. Bernard came up big when had back-to-back tackles to force a third-and-long and then a failed fourth down attempt on BYU’s opening drive, forcing the Cougars to turn the ball over on downs.

His interception came in the second quarter with 11:03 left on the clock after Zach Wilson felt the heat from the Utah defensive line. Bernard picked off the pass and ran it 58 yards to the end zone to break the 3-3 tie and put Utah in the lead for the rest of the game.

He also assisted on a tackle for loss on a first-and-10 to force a second-and-long late in the game before making a stop at the line of scrimmage for no gain on a third-and-two, forcing BYU to punt once again.

Bernard and the Utes will return to action on Saturday, Sept. 7 for Utah’s home opener against Northern Illinois. The game will kick off at 11 a.m. MT on Pac-12 Networks.