This Week in WAC Football-Oct. 30
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSIVE – Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton, a sophomore from Houston, Texas (Cypress Creek HS), completed 27-of-36 passes for 340 yards with three touchdowns in Utah State’s 48-17 win at UTSA. The 27 completions were a career-high for Keeton, and it was his third career 300-yard passing game.
DEFENSIVE – San Jose State safety Cullen Newsome, a senior from Roseville, Calif. (American River College), had a season-high 10 tackles (6 solo) and intercepted a pass in San Jose State’s 31-20 win over Texas State. Trailing 20-17 to start the third quarter, Newsome intercepted a pass and returned it 22 yards to stop the Bobcats’ opening drive of the half. Texas State was held scoreless in the second half and totaled just 98 yards of total offense after the intermission.
SPECIAL TEAMS – Louisiana Tech punter Ryan Allen, a senior from Salem, Ore. (Oregon State), punted five times for a 52.4-yard average in Louisiana Tech’s 28-14 win at New Mexico State. He had two punts downed inside the 20-yard line and also broke a school-record with an 85-yard punt in the first quarter. That punt is the longest by any player in the nation this year. Allen, the reigning Ray Guy Award winner, now leads the nation in punting with a 48.0-yard average.
Others nominated on offense:
Ray Holley, Sr., RB, Louisiana Tech - rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries in the win at New Mexico State. He also caught two passes for 16 yards. He had career-long 83 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Germi Morrison, Jr., RB, New Mexico State - rushed for 92 yards on 16 carries and caught four passes for 52 yards in the game against Louisiana Tech.
De’Leon Eskridge, Sr., RB, San Jose State - ran for a career-high 134 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries and added four receptions for 41 yards in the win over Texas State.
Also nominated on defense:
Chad Boyd, Sr., DB, Louisiana Tech - made seven tackles and intercepted a pass in the win over New Mexico State.
Davis Cazares, Jr., S, New Mexico State - had a game-high 15 tackles in the game against Louisiana Tech.
Triston Wade, So., FS, UTSA - recorded 11 tackles (10 solo) and intercepted a pass in the game against Utah State.
Kyler Fackrell, Fr., LB, Utah State - made a team-high seven tackles and intercepted a pass in the win at UTSA.
Additional special teams nominations:
Nick Diaz, So., PK, Utah State - made both field goal attempts and all six extra points in the win at UTSA.
WAC TOP NON-AQ CONFERENCE – After nine weeks of play, the WAC remains the top non-automatic qualifying conference according to the ESPN Stats & Information College Football Conference Power Rankings. The WAC has a rating of 26.0, trailing the Big East (42.3), but ahead of the Mountain West (23.5), MAC (20.7), Sun Belt (17.2) and Conference USA (15.2). The ratings take into account the AP poll and various computer rankings.
GESSER MAKES COACHING DEBUT – Last week, Idaho announced that offensive coordinator Jason Gesser will serve as interim head coach following Robb Akey’s termination. The Vandals (1-7) had a bye last week and will host San Jose State this Saturday. Gesser has been on the Vandal staff for two seasons after a professional NFL and Canadian Football League career. He is a graduate of Washington State University where he was an All-American quarterback.
IDAHO PLAYERS DISMISSED – Idaho announced on Sunday that quarterback Dominique Blackman and linebacker Conrad Scheidt have been dismissed from the team for violating team rules. Tight end Taylor Elmo has been suspended for violating athletic department policy. Blackman started seven games and threw for 1,620 yards and nine touchdowns with 13 interceptions.
LA TECH SECOND IN NATION – In the most recent NCAA statistics report, Louisiana Tech dropped to second in the nation in scoring. The Bulldogs are averaging 52.63 points per game following its 28-14 win at New Mexico State. Oregon is first in the nation at 53.38 points per game. Since 2002, WAC teams have led the nation in scoring five times. Boise State was the last team to accomplish this in 2009 with 42.2 points per game. The WAC record is 48.9 points per game set by Boise State in 2004. The Broncos were second in the nation behind Louisville(49.8 ppg) that season.
CAMERON EXTENDS NCAA RECORD – On October 20, Bulldog quarterback Colby Cameron broke the NCAA and WAC record of 271 passes without an interception in a season set by Fresno State’s Trent Dilfer in 1993. Last week, Cameron again did not throw an interception in the game against New Mexico State and has thrown 319 passes without an interception through eight games this year.
JOHNSON NEARS SACK RECORD – San Jose State senior defensive end Travis Johnson has 28.5 sacks in his career, tied for the second most in WAC history. He is just 1.5 behind the all-time leader, Nevada’s Dontay Moch (2007-10). Johnson is the NCAA’s active leader. He is also seventh all-time in WAC history in tackles for loss with 43.0, placing him fourth in the nation among active players.
JOHNSON NAMED QUARTERFINALIST FOR TWO AWARDS – San Jose State’s Travis Johnson has been named a quarterfinalist for both the Rotary Lombardi Award (outstanding lineman) and Lott IMPACT Trophy (outstanding defensive player). Semifinalists for the Lombardi Award will be announced by the end of October while semifinalists for the Lott Trophy will be announced on Nov. 13.
CAMERON O’BRIEN SEMIFINALIST – Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron has been named one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey O’Brien Award given to the nation’s top quarterback. Cameron has completed 225-of-319 passes for 2,598 yards and 21 touchdowns with no interceptions. He has a passing efficiency rating of 160.7.
WILLIAMS CRACKS CAREER TOP 5 – Utah State senior running back Kerwynn Williams has 6,081 yards of all-purpose yards during his career. He is now fourth all-time in WAC history, 610 behind career leader Terance Mathis of New Mexico (1985-87, 89). Williams is the WAC’s active leader in rushing yards with 1,888. He also has 666 career receiving yards, 135 punt return yards and is the WAC’s all-time career leader in kick return yards with 3,392.
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.
NEW MEMBERS FEATURE TOP COACHES – New members UTSA and Texas State have coaches that are in their second year with their respective schools 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. His 61 overall victories and 38 conference victories as a WAC head coach are both tied with Boise State’s Chris Petersen for 10th 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.