This Week in WAC Football-Oct. 9
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSIVE – Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon, a freshman from Strong, Ark. (Strong HS), rushed for 102 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries in Louisiana Tech’s 58-31 win over UNLV. He also caught one pass for 10 yards, his first career reception. Dixon became the fourth Bulldog in school history to rush for four touchdowns and the first since 2004. Three of his touchdown runs came during a stretch in the third and fourth quarters when the Bulldogs scored 31 straight points.
DEFENSIVE – Utah State linebacker Kyler Fackrell, a freshman from Mesa, Ariz. (Mesa HS), had 10 tackles (4 solo) and his first career interception in the game at Brigham Young. Fackrell’s interception came in the fourth quarter and helped set up an Aggie field goal attempt. Despite losing, the Utah State defense held BYU to just six points, the fewest on the road for an Aggie team since 1995.
SPECIAL TEAMS – Idaho placekicker Trey Farquhar, a senior from Redlands, Calif. (Redlands East Valley), was perfect in his placekicking duties with four field goals and two extra points in Idaho’s 26-18 win over New Mexico State. Farquhar scored the final nine points for the Vandals including a 55-yard field goal at the end of the first half and another 53-yarder near the end of the third quarter.
Others nominated on offense:
Jahrie Level, Jr., WR, Idaho - caught eight passes for 92 yards and a touchdown in the win over New Mexico State.
Matt Austin, Sr., WR, Utah State - had a career-high seven catches for 72 yards in the game at Brigham Young.
Also nominated on defense:
Gary Walker, Sr., S, Idaho - made 13 tackles (7 solo) and broke up two passes in the game against New Mexico State.
Jamel Johnson, Sr., S, Louisiana Tech - had five tackles, forced a fumble and made an interception in the win over UNLV.
Trashaun Nixon, Jr., LB, New Mexico State - tallied eight tackles, including two for a loss, forced and recovered a fumble and made his first career interception in the game at Idaho.
Additional special teams nominations:
Malon Lee, Sr., RB, Louisiana Tech - had two tackles on special teams and blocked and recovered a punt against UNLV.
Tyler Bennett, Sr., P, Utah State - punted seven times for an average of 42.4 yards per kick in the game at BYU. Four of the punts were downed inside the 20-yard line.
UNDEFEATED TEAMS – The WAC is one of five conferences to have multiple undefeated teams at this point of the season. Both Louisiana Tech and UTSA are 5-0. A total of 16 teams are still undefated. UTSA is one of two undefeated teams not ranked in the top 25, joining Ohio.
WAC TOP NON-AQ CONFERENCE – After six weeks of play, the WAC is the top non-automatic qualifying conference according to the ESPN Stats & Information College Football Conference Power Rankings. The WAC has a rating of 23.7, trailing the ACC (47.8), but ahead of the Mountain West (21.1), MAC (19.6), Sun Belt (19.1) and Conference USA (17.2). The ratings take into account the AP poll and various computer rankings.
TEXAS A&M-LA TECH TO BE SHOWN ON ESPNU – The Texas A&M-Louisiana Tech game that was postponed back in August due to Hurricane Isaac will be played this Saturday and will be shown on ESPNU at 8:00 p.m. CT. The game marks the first ESPNU game of the year for a WAC team.
JOHNSON NAMED LOMBARDI QUARTERFINALIST – San Jose State defensive end Travis Johnson is one of 25 quarterfinalists for the 2012 Rotary Lombardi Award. The award is given to the college football lineman who combines outstanding performance and ability and exemplifies the discipline of the legendary Green Bay Packers two-time Super Bowl winning coach Vince Lombardi, who first gained fame as one of Fordham University football’s “Seven Blocks of Granite” in the 1930’s. Johnson is the only player in the FBS to rank in the top-three in quarterback sacks (2nd) and tackles for loss (tied for 2nd). Johnson’s 7.5 sacks this season give him 26.5 for his career and ranks the Spartan co-captain first among active players. He is the only player from a non-BCS conference listed among the 25 remaining candidates for the award. Seven semifinalists, tabbed as the 2012 “Seven Blocks of Granite,” will be named at the end of October. Four finalists will be announced in November with the 2012 Rotary Lombardi Award winner named on December 5.
NATIONAL WEEKLY AWARDS – Idaho placekicker Trey Farquhar was honored by the College Football Performance Awards as the national placekicker of the week. Other honorable mention CFPA winners were Chase Harper, Texas State (TE); Matt Nelson, Louisiana Tech (PK); Zach Robinson, Texas State (P); Trashaun Nixon, New Mexico State (LB).
WILLIAMS CRACKS CAREER TOP 10 – Utah State senior running back Kerwynn Williams has 5,541 yards of all-purpose yards during his career. He is now eighth all-time in WAC history, 1,150 behind career leader Terance Mathis of New Mexico (1985-87, 89). Williams is the WAC’s active leader in rushing yards with 1,540. He also has 474 career receiving yards, 135 punt return yards and is the WAC’s career leader in kick return yards with 3,392.
TWO NOMINATED FOR THE WILLIAM V. CAMPBELL TROPHY – Lousiana Tech placekicker Matt Nelson and San Jose State defensive lineman Travis Johnson have been nominated for the William V. Campbell Trophy which recognizes the best football scholar-athlete in the nation. Candidates must be in their final year of eligibility and have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale.
TWO NAMED SENIOR CLASS CANDIDATES – Louisiana Tech offensive lineman Stephen Warner and San Jose State defensive end Travis Johnson are two of 30 FBS candidates for the 2012 SENIOR Class Award to be awarded by the NCAA during the 2012-13 bowl season. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I FBS senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. The complete list of candidates follows this release. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. The candidate class will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season.
NEW ERA – The WAC began a new era this year with the additions of Denver, Seattle, UT-Arlington, UTSA and Texas State with only the latter two competing in football. The WAC consists of a total of 10 schools for the 2012-13 season, but just seven play football. Both UTSA and Texas State are eligible to compete for the WAC championship, but UTSA is not eligible for a postseason bowl game in 2012 due to the two-year process of transitioning from FCS to FBS. Texas State began the process last year and is bowl eligible if there are not enough eligible teams to fill the 70 bowl slots this year. For their opponents, wins against Texas State this year count toward bowl eligibility while those against UTSA do not.
ALL COACHES RETURN – The WAC is the only FBS conference to return all of its head coaches from a year ago. Idaho’s Robb Akey is the senior member of the group going into his sixth year with the Vandals. New members UTSA and Texas State have coaches that are in their second year with the school though Texas State’s Dennis Franchione coached an additional two years with the Bobcats in 1990 and 1991. Franchione had two previous stints in the WAC with New Mexico and TCU and his 59 wins as a WAC head coach are the 11th most in conference history. UTSA’s Larry Coker won a National Championship in his first year with Miami (Fla.) in 2001.
PRESEASON FAVORITES – Defending WAC champion Louisiana Tech was picked as the favorite by both the media and coaches for the 2012 season. Utah State was second in both polls and San Jose State was third. As selected by the media, Louisiana Tech wide receiver Quinton Patton was voted the preseason Offensive Player of the Year while San Jose State defensive end Travis Johnson was picked as the Defensive Player of the Year. Patton, a senior, was a first-team all-WAC selection last year after catching 79 passes for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first season with the Bulldogs. Johnson, a senior, earned first-team all-WAC honors after finishing second in the WAC with 9.5 sacks last year. He enters this season with 19 career sacks, the third most of any active player in the country.
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL – The WAC continues its affiliation with the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl this year. The WAC champion (unless its UTSA or Texas State) will play an opponent from the Mid-American Conference. The WAC has played in the bowl game every year since 2000.
BOWL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES – Since 1997, the WAC has been an official part of the Bowl Championship Series. The WAC’s champion will receive an automatic berth in one of the five BCS bowl games if ranked in the top 12 of the BCS Standings (and is the highest ranked team from a conference without an automatic bid) or if ranked in the top 16 of the BCS Standings and its ranking is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls. The BCS Standings are determined by a formula involving polls and computer rankings. Next year’s National Championship Game will be played in Miami on Jan. 7, 2013.