This Week in WAC Football-Nov. 20
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSIVE – Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton, a sophomore from Houston, Texas (Cypress Creek HS), completed 20-of-34 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for a career-high 121 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries in Utah State’s 48-41 overtime win at Louisiana Tech. On Utah State’s first offensive play of the game, he threw a career-long 86-yard pass for a touchdown. Keeton set new single-season school records for touchdown passes (25) and total offense (3,538 yards).
DEFENSIVE – San Jose State linebacker Keith Smith, a junior from Covina, Calif. (Charter Oak HS), tied a career-high with 19 tackles in San Jose State’s 20-14 win over Brigham Young. He was also credited with two tackles for a loss 12 yards and two forced fumbles. His biggest play came as Brigham Young had the ball on San Jose State’s 21-yard line late in the fourth quarter. Smith sacked the quarterback and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Spartans. San Jose State was able to run out the clock for their first win over the Cougars in four tries since 1968.
SPECIAL TEAMS – Louisiana Tech return specialist D.J. Banks, a junior from West Monroe, La. (Tulane), returned seven kickoffs for 235 yards and two punts for 13 yards in Louisiana Tech’s game against Utah State. Near the end of the third quarter, Utah State took a 41-17 lead before Banks returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown that started a 24-point run for the Bulldogs that forced overtime. Banks set the single-season school record for kickoff return yards in a season with 908.
Others nominated on offense:
Quinton Patton, Sr., WR, Louisiana Tech - had 11 receptions for 181 yards (166 coming in the second half) in the game against Utah State.
Noel Grigsby, Jr., WR, San Jose State - caught eight passes for 132 yards and two first-half touchdowns in the 20-14 win over Brigham Young. His first six receptions resulted in a first down or touchdown.
Eric Soza, Jr., QB, UTSA - completed 23-of-36 passes for 232 yards and also rushed 11 times for 89 yards and three touchdowns in the win at Idaho.
Also nominated on defense:
Solomon Randle, Sr., LB, Louisiana Tech - had eight tackles including a half sack in the game against Utah State.
Triston Wade, So., FS, UTSA - made a team-high seven tackles and intercepted a pass in the win at Idaho.
Jake Doughty, Jr., LB, Utah State - recorded a career-high 18 tackles (11 solo), including the final stop of the game in overtime on a 4th-and-3 play in the win at Louisiana Tech.
Additional special teams nominations:
Josh Ward, So., PK, UTSA - booted all seven of his kickoffs through the end zone for touchbacks in the game against Idaho.
Tyler Bennett, Sr., P, Utah State - punted five times for an average of 40.0 yards per kick and had two punts downed inside the 20-yard line in the game at Louisiana Tech.
UTAH STATE CLAIMS AT LEAST SHARE OF TITLE – Utah State beat Louisiana Tech, 48-41 in overtime last week to claim at least a share of its first ever WAC football title. The Aggies would win the outright title if they beat Idaho this Saturday.
ALL-WAC TEAMS – The 2012 all-WAC teams will be announced on Monday, Dec. 3. The first and second teams will be determined by a vote of the league’s seven head coaches. An offensive player of the year, defensive player of the year freshman of the year and coach of the year will also be selected.
ESPN2 PICKS UP LA TECH-SJSU GAME – The Louisiana Tech-San Jose State game this Saturday has been picked up by ESPN2 and the game time has been moved to 7:30 p.m. PT. ESPN3 will also televise the BYU-New Mexico State game earlier that day at 1:30 p.m. MT.
WAC TOP NON-AQ CONFERENCE – After 12 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 25.2, trailing the Big East (38.4), but ahead of the MAC (23.3), Mountain West (18.6), Sun Belt (17.9) and Conference USA (15.3). The ratings take into account the AP poll and various computer rankings.
AGGIES RANKED – In this week’s polls, Utah State entered the AP poll tied for 25th. It is the first time the Aggies have been ranked in the AP poll since 1961. Utah State is just outside the top 25 in the USA Today coaches’ poll and Harris poll. Louisiana Tech and San Jose State are also receiving votes in all three polls.
3 TEAMS BOWL ELIGIBLE – The WAC has three teams that are bowl eligible: Louisiana Tech, San Jose State and Utah State. This is the second year in a row for both Louisiana Tech and Utah State while San Jose State is bowl eligible for the first time since 2008.
ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT – Six WAC football student-athletes were named to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-District teams. To be eligible for the teams, a player must have at least a 3.20 GPA and play in 50 percent of his team’s games. Student-athletes on All-District first teams are placed on the national ballot for Academic All-America consideration.
Academic All-District Members
DB-McKade Brady, Utah State, Sr., Human movement science
RB-Ray Holley, Louisiana Tech, Gr., Counseling
DL-Travis Johnson, San Jose State, Sr., Kinesiology
OL-Nate Leonard, UTSA, So., Physical Education
OL-Valerian Ume-Ezeoke, New Mexico State, So., Biology
OL-Stephen Warner, Louisiana Tech, Sr., Civil engineering
CAMERON ON WALTER CAMP LIST – Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron was named one of 15 “Players to Watch” for the Walter Camp Football Foundation Player of the Year Award, the fourth-oldest football award in the nation. A list of five finalists will be announced on Wednesday, November 28
ALLEN NAMED RAY GUY FINALIST – Louisiana Tech punter Ryan Allen has been named a finalist for the Ray Guy Award. This marks the second consecutive year Allen has been named a finalist for the award honoring the nation’s top punter. Allen currently leads in the nation in punting, averaging 48.12 yards per punt this season. That average is more than a yard better than any other punter. Allen won the 2011 Ray Guy Award becoming the first punter from a non-AQ school to be named the nation’s top punter. No punter has ever won the Ray Guy Award more than once. This year’s winner will be revealed on ESPN during The Home Depot College Football Awards airing live on Thursday, Dec. 6.
MACINTYRE SEMIFINALIST FOR COACH OF THE YEAR – San Jose State’s Mike MacIntyre is one of 16 semifinalists for the 2012 Maxwell Football Club Collegiate Coach of the Year Award. With one game remaining in the 2012 regular season, MacIntyre has the Spartans at 9-2, 4-1 in the WAC, and in the midst of a five-game winning streak. San Jose State’s nine wins exceed the program’s win total from the 2009 (2), 2010 (1) and 2011 (5) seasons combined.
LA TECH LEADS NATION IN TOTAL OFFENSE AND SCORING – In the most recent NCAA statistics report, Louisiana Tech leads the FBS in total offense with 581.3 yards per game. Baylor is second at 565.6 yards per contest. The last time a WAC team led the country in total offense was in 2006 when Hawaii averaged 559.2 yards per game. The WAC record is 584.2 set by BYU in 1983. The Bulldogs also moved up to first in the nation in scoring with 52.3 points per game following its 48-41 loss against Utah State. Oregon is second in the nation at 51.1 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’S INTERCEPTION-FREE STREAK ENDS – Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron had his streak of consecutive passes without an interception broken in the game against Utah State. Earlier this year, Cameron shattered the NCAA and WAC record of 271 attempts and finished with a streak of 428 attempts. Going back to last year, Cameron had thrown 444 passes without an interception to break the NCAA record over multiple seasons. UTSA’s Eric Soza now has the longest active streak in the nation at 234 pass attempts without an interception.
DIXON SETS NCAA FRESHMAN RECORDS – Kenneth Dixon broke three NCAA and WAC single-season records earlier this year and continues to add to them. He holds the NCAA records for most rushing touchdowns in a season by a freshman (26), most touchdowns in a season by a freshman (27) and most points scored in a season by a freshman (162), all three of which had been previously set by San Diego State’s Marshall Faulk in 1991.
JOHNSON TIES SACK RECORD – San Jose State senior defensive end Travis Johnson is tied for the most career sacks in WAC history with 30.0. Nevada’s Dontay Moch (2007-10) also racked up 30.0 sacks during his career. Johnson is the NCAA’s active leader in sacks and is also sixth all-time in WAC history in tackles for loss with 45.5, fourth in the nation among active players.
WILLIAMS NEARING WAC CAREER RECORD – Utah State senior running back Kerwynn Williams has 6,510 yards of all-purpose yards during his career. He is now second all-time in WAC history, 181 yards behind career leader Terance Mathis of New Mexico (1985-87, 89). Williams is the WAC’s active leader in rushing yards with 2,270. He also has 797 career receiving yards, 135 punt return yards and is the WAC’s all-time career leader in kick return yards with 3,408.
NATIONAL WEEKLY AWARDS – Louisiana Tech kick returner D.J. Banks and San Jose State linebacker Keith Smith were honored by the College Football Performance Awards as the national kick returner and linebacker of the week, respectively. Other honorable mention CFPA winners were Chuckie Keeton, Utah State (QB); Kerwynn Williams, Utah State (RB); and Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech (P).
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.