CEDAR CITY, Utah, Feb. 15 - Southern Utah finished atop the nation's FCS football teams in kickoff return average in 2011, the NCAA has announced, while the punt coverage squad finished second. In all, SUU finished the season ranked among the nation's top-20 squads in six major statistical categories.

The Thunderbirds averaged 26.33 yards per kickoff return to edge Liberty, which was second at 26.12 and Stony Brook, which finished third at 25.77.

SUU finished the regular season behind Stony Brook, but the Sea Wolves average dipped from 28.10 after their two NCAA playoff games.

Austin Minefee, a third-team all-American, led the way for the Thunderbirds with a 29.24 yards per return average, the eighth-best figure in the nation.

SUU's punt team was close to a national championship as well, as the T-Birds were second in net punting, at 39.08 yards per boot. Fordham was the net punting champ with an average of 40.90.

SUU also finished the season ranked among the nation's top-20 squads in passing (12th at 287.36 yards per game), sacks (13th with 2.82 per game), punt returns (18th at 12.0 yards per return) and pass defense (19th after holding opponents to 178.18 yards per game through the air).

-- SUU --