This Week in WAC Football-Nov. 27
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSIVE – San Jose State running back De’Leon Eskridge, a senior from San Francisco, Calif. (Serra HS), rushed for 217 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries in the Spartans’ 52-43 win over Louisiana Tech. His last two touchdowns came in the second half with San Jose State trailing 37-31 to give the Spartans a 45-37 lead. Eskridge gained 143 yards in the second half. His total tied for the seventh best single-game performance in school history.
DEFENSIVE – Utah State defensive back Will Davis, a senior from Spokane, Wash. (De Anza College), made four tackles (3 solo) and returned an interception 59 yards for his first career touchdown in the 45-9 win over Idaho. The interception return for a touchdown was the first by a Utah State player since 2007. Davis helped hold the Vandals to just 52 passing yards, the fewest by an Aggie opponent since 1998. He has now intercepted a pass in five-straight games.
SPECIAL TEAMS – UTSA punt returner Kenny Harrison, a sophomore from Linden, Texas (Linden-Kildare HS), returned two punts for 81 yards in UTSA’s 38-31 win over Texas State. Harrison scored in the first quarter on a 79-yard return, the first punt return for a touchdown by a Roadrunner in the school’s two-year history. He also added three receptions for 32 yards in the game.
Others nominated on offense:
Myles White, Sr., WR, Louisiana Tech - had seven catches for 126 yards and a touchdown in the game at San Jose State.
Eric Soza, Jr., QB, UTSA - completed 15-of-30 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for a game-high 97 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries in the win over Texas State.
Kerwynn Williams, Sr., RB, Utah State - carried 17 times for 110 yards and a touchdown while also catching four passes for 39 yards and another score in the win over Idaho.
Also nominated on defense:
Bene Benwikere, Jr., DB, San Jose State - tied a school-record with three interceptions (all in the second half) in the win over Louisiana Tech. He also made eight tackles, including one for a loss.
Brandon Reeves, Sr., LB, UTSA - had a team-high 11 tackles, including one for a loss, and recovered a fumble in the win against Texas State.
Additional special teams nominations:
Ryan Allen, Sr., P, Louisiana Tech - punted four times for a 47.2-yard average and placed three inside the 20-yard line in the game against San Jose State.
Austin Lopez, Fr., PK, San Jose State - made his only field goal attempt from 45 yards and all seven of his extra point attempts in the win over Louisiana Tech.
Nick Diaz, So., PK, Utah State - made his only field goal attempt from 45 yards and was 6-for-6 on PATs in the win over Idaho.
UTAH STATE WINS OUTRIGHT WAC TITLE – Utah State beat Idaho, 45-9, in its regular season finale to win the WAC title with a 6-0 conference mark. It is the first outright title for the Aggies in football since winning the 1936 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship. It was also the 10th win for Utah State, setting a new single-season school record.
AGGIES RECEIVE FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL BID – Following its win over Idaho, Utah State accepted a bid to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. It is the second straight year that the Aggies will play in the bowl game. Utah State lost to Ohio last year, 24-23. The Aggies will face an opponent from the Mid-American Conference. The WAC has played in the bowl game every year since 2000.
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.
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.
WAC TOP NON-AQ CONFERENCE – After 13 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 31.5, trailing the ACC (44.1), but ahead of the MAC (28.3), Big East (27.3), Mountain West (20.7), Sun Belt (18.3) and Conference USA (15.2). The ratings take into account the AP poll and various computer rankings.
TWO TEAMS IN BCS RANKINGS – In the seventh BCS rankings of the season, both Utah State and San Jose State made their first ever appearances. Utah State is 24th while San Jose State is 25th. A WAC team earns an automatic bid into one of the BCS bowls if it is the highest ranked non-BCS team ranked in the top 12 of the BCS poll at the end of the regular season or if ranked in the top 16 and is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.
AGGIES RANKED – In this week’s polls, Utah State moved up five spots to 20th in the AP poll. The Aggies also entered the USA Today and Harris polls at 22nd. San Jose State is just outside the top 25 in all three poll while Louisiana Tech is receiving votes in the USA Today and Harris polls.
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 WINS SAMMY BAUGH TROPHY – Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron has been named the winner of the prestigious Sammy Baugh Award presented to college football’s top passer by The Touchdown Club of Columbus. Cameron is the 10th WAC quarterback to win the award.
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. MacIntyre has led the Spartans to a 10-2 record, exceeding the program’s combined win total from the 2009 (2), 2010 (1) and 2011 (5) seasons.
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 577.9 yards per game. Baylor is second at 575.5 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 remain first in the nation in scoring with 51.5 points per game following its 52-43 loss against San Jose State. Oregon is second in the nation at 50.8 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.
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 (27), most touchdowns in a season by a freshman (28) and most points scored in a season by a freshman (168), all three of which had been previously set by San Diego State’s Marshall Faulk in 1991.
JOHNSON ALL-TIME WAC SACK LEADER – San Jose State senior defensive end Travis Johnson made one sack in last week’s game against Louisiana Tech and is now the all-time sack leader in the WAC with 31.0. Johnson is the NCAA’s active leader in sacks and is also tied for fourth all-time in WAC history in tackles for loss with 46.5, tied for fourth in the nation among active players.
WILLIAMS NEARING WAC CAREER RECORD – Utah State senior running back Kerwynn Williams has 6,659 yards of all-purpose yards during his career. He is second all-time in WAC history, 32 yards behind career leader Terance Mathis of New Mexico (1985-87, 89). Williams is the WAC’s active leader in rushing yards with 2,280. He also has 836 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 – San Jose State defensive back Bene Benwikere was named the National Defensive Performer of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards. UTSA’s Kenny Harrison was one of four Punt Returner Performers of the Week. Other honorable mention CFPA winners were De’Leon Eskridge, San Jose State (RB); Ryan Otten, San Jose State (TE); Bobby Cowan, Idaho (P); Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech (P); and Will Davis, Utah State (DB).
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.