C-USA Players Of The Week: Cato And Smith
By Veair Green
In a conference dominated by quarterbacks and receivers, this weekend belonged to the running backs. Nine rushers gained 100 yards the tough way. Another thing I took from this weekend may have been the biggest upset in C-USA this year. Florida Atlantic (3-6) defeated Tulane (6-3) by 17 points. Not bad for a team that fired its head coach a few days ago over alleged illegal drug use. So who was the defensive player who dominated that game? I will get to that in a moment.
Shane Carden, QB, ECU: 23-35, 264 passing yards, 3 TDs vs. FIU
Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall: 21-28, 5 TDs vs. Southern Miss
Kevin Grooms, RB, Marshall: 8 carries, 109 rushing yards, TD vs. Southern Miss
Justin Hardy, WR, ECU: 5 receptions, 136 receiving yards, 1 TD vs. FIU
Marcus Henry, WR, Middle Tennessee State: 5 receptions, 136 receiving yards, 1 TD vs. UAB
Essray Taliaferro, RB, Marshall: 8 carries, 108 rushing yards, TD vs. Southern Miss
Stephen Roberts, LB, Middle Tennessee State: 7 tackles, 1 INT, TD vs. UAB; pick six gave MTSU a 21-13 fourth-quarter lead
D'Joun Smith, DB, FAU: 3 INTs vs. Tulane
Marcus Trice, DB, UNT: 9 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 2 INTs, 1 pass breakup vs. Rice
Offensive Player Of The Week
This is well deserved. After weeks of nominations, the stud quarterback never received Football.com's Offensive Player of the Week ... until now. Cato powered his team to a 61-burger even though it was against lowly Southern Miss. Cato has tied Chad Pennington's school record by completing a TD pass in 26 consecutive games, the second-longest active streak in the FBS. Putting up 636 yards of total offense didn't hurt either. I have a feeling this won't be the last time Mr. Cato gets this honor.
Defensive Player Of The Week
And now to the man of the hour, D'Joun Smith. Before I tell you what he did, just remember I was on his bandwagon way before the national media caught wind of this guy. When all chips were stacked against FAU, Smith answered the bell. For some reason Tulane quarterback Nick Montana kept picking on Smith, and three picks later, the game was over. His seven interceptions is tied for the lead in the entire nation and he's No. 2 in the country with 17 passes defensed. Smith also was named College Football Performance Awards National DB of the Week. If you ask him, I'm sure he would say winning Football.com's Defensive Player of the Week for the second time is a bigger honor. I am officially starting the "D'Joun Smith for the Jim Thorpe Award" campaign. Spread the word!