A look around the MWC

Utah's Alex Smith showed once again why he is mentioned as the most underrated player in the conference.

Updated: September 8, 2004, 3:47 PM ET
By Kevin Acee | Special to
Alex Smith's improvement might well be measured in more games like defending-MWC champion Utah's season-opening rout of Texas A&M, wherein Smith completed 21 of 29 passes for a career-high 359 yards and three touchdowns and ran 13 times for 76 yards and two TDs.

But it's not stats that make Smith the quarterback he is. Maybe that's why Smith is sometimes mentioned as the most underrated player in the conference. Maybe that's why he is sometimes mentioned as the most overrated.

There is no quantifying what the improved Smith means to the Utes.

"He has a command of the offense," Utah coach Urban Meyer said.

"This is a hard offense to get command of. Last year he did not (have command). I don't think he had the confidence."

Utes quarterback coach Dan Mullen said Smith's confidence and leadership are what set apart this season from last. Smith's effect on the Utes is manifest in a story Mullen tells about asking various players what they think of each of Utah's quarterbacks. They are fine with any of them, Mullen reports.