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C-USA Players Of The Week: Cato And Smith

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D'Joun Smith of the Florida Atlantic Owls has seven interceptions and 17 passes defensed, making a case as the nation's best defensive back. Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images.
D'Joun Smith of the Florida Atlantic Owls has seven interceptions and 17 passes defensed, making a case as the nation's best defensive back. Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images.

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.

Offense

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

Defense

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!