ACN Bronko Nagurski Report — Oct. 29

broko logosSince 1995, the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club have partnered to bring you the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner each year.  The Best Defensive Player in the entire country is announced at the Westin Hotel in downtown Charlotte each December before sellout crowds, with this year’s 21st  straight banquet, sponsored by ACN and slated for Dec. 7. Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn will deliver the keynote speech.

Five finalists for the award, named after the legendary Minnesota Gopher and Chicago Bears lineman, will  appear on stage before the winner is announced by 2015 FWAA President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. During the evening, the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by East Coast Railways, will also be feted–Ohio State linebacker Randy Gradishar (1971-73).

Arizona’s junior linebacker  Scooby Wright III will attempt to become only the second player to win back-to-back Nagurski Trophies after Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald in 1995 and 1996. Wright is just the second sophomore to win the award after Ohio State linebacker James Laurinatis in 2006.

The weekly ACN Bronko Report will bring to you updates on what is happening on the defensive side of the ball during the 2015 season, top matchups and also provide links to stories on Bronko Nagurski Alumni and occasional feature stories about current top defensive players who might wind up in Charlotte the first week of December

MATCHUP OF THE WEEK

Notre Dame at Temple on Saturday. The Owls will be going for their first 8-0 start in school history in their last non-conference game of the season before finishing with four straight American Athletic Conference foes. If Temple could beat the Fighting Irish, the Owls would own their first home victory as a ranked team since 1941. Owls’ standout senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich, the NCAA’s active career tackles leader, leads a defense that has 12 interceptions in its first seven games. The Temple rush defense ranks sixth nationally (91.9 yards allowed a game) and scoring defense ranks eighth (14.6 points allowed a game). Notre Dame has lost only at Clemson this year. With a balanced offensive attack and a solid defense, led by tackle Sheldon Day and linebackers Jaylon Smith and Joe Schmidt, Notre Dame is the Owls’ stiffest test since its home-opener, a victory over Penn State.

BRONKO NAGURSKI BANQUET NEWS

 Adam Zucker Selected Master of Ceremonies

RANDY GRADISHAR NAMED CHARLOTTE TOUCHDOWN CLUB’s 2015 BRONKO NAGURSKI LEGENDS AWARD RECIPIENT

Gus Malzahn named keynote speaker for 2015 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet

Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet Reservation Form

AutoNation FWAA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF WEEK 

USC linebacker Cameron Smith

USC linebacker Cameron Smith

USC linebacker Cameron Smith sparked the Trojans past undefeated and No. 3 Utah with three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown to break the game open just before halftime. Smith’s takeaways in a 42-24 win, plus a team-best nine tackles, earned him the AutoNation National Defensive Player of the Week honor for games the weekend of Oct. 24, as selected by the Football Writers Association on America.

Smith, a 6-2, 245-pound freshman from Roseville, Calif., had 122 return yards on his three interceptions, including the second one that he took into the Utah end zone from 54 yards out, giving USC at 28-14 lead 1:07 before halftime. His first pick and return of 41 yards set up USC’s game-tying touchdown early in the second quarter. He added a third return of 27 yards in the fourth quarter. The three interceptions were the most by a USC player since Jason Oliver had three in 1991 against Penn State.

Smith’s 62 tackles this season are the second-most in the nation among true freshmen. He currently leads USC in tackles and he could become the first true freshman to lead the Trojans in tackles in a season since records were first kept in 1954. Five of his nine tackles were unassisted on Saturday night.

MEMORABLE DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCES FROM LAST WEEK 

Georgia Tech senior safety Jamal Golden: Golden led the defense with a career-high nine tackles, including seven unassisted stops and one for a loss of four yards. He intercepted a pass to swing the momentum in favor of the Yellow Jackets in the 22-16 upset of Florida State. Golden intercepted Everett Golson’s pass in the end zone with just more than eight minutes left in the game — the first Florida State turnover of the season. He also broke up one pass. Golden is tied with Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller and Duke’s Breon Borders as the ACC’s active career leader in interceptions.

Nevada senior end An Seau: He recorded four unassisted tackles, all sacks, in Nevada’s 30-20 victory over Hawai‘i. The four sacks are a career-high and were a half sack shy of the Wolf Pack single-game record of 4.5 sacks by Jorge Cordova against Washington in 2003. He is the ninth player in Mountain West Conference history to register four sacks in a game. The 4.0 sacks against the Rainbow Warriors tie for the most in a single game in the FBS this season (with Texas A&M’s Daeshon Hall and East Carolina’s Montese Overton). With less than two minutes remaining and Hawai’i at the Nevada 22-yard line, Seau tallied his fourth sack of the game, tripping the ball from Rainbow Warrior quarterback Max Wittek and recovering the fumble.

Northwestern senior end Dean Lowry: He set a school record with six tackles for loss, including two sacks, among his 10 total tackles and one pass breakup in Northwestern’s 30-28 victory at Nebraska. His six tackles for loss tied for the most by a Big Ten player in a single game since Rob Ninkovich tallied seven in 2005 and matched the sixth-most in conference history. He anchored a Wildcat defense that held Nebraska to 82 rushing yards

Mississippi senior safety Trae Elston:  He had a career-high five pass break-ups and led the Ole Miss defense in the 23-3 victory over Texas A&M. He also notched three tackles, one for loss.  He helped limit the Aggies without a touchdown and just 192 yards, fewest by a Rebel opponent this year and the Aggies’ lowest yardage total of the season.  The Rebel defense had three takeaways in the game and now has 16 on the year.

Buffalo senior linebacker Okezie Alozie: He had a pair of interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown in the Bulls’ 41-17 victory over Ohio. His first career interception went for a 22-yard touchdown and gave the Bulls a 21-10 lead. Later in the half, he had his second interception of the game and returned it 43 yards to set up a Buffalo field goal as time expired in the first half. Alozie also had three tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss.

Louisiana Tech senior cornerback Bryson Abraham: He recorded his third interception return for a touchdown this season Saturday in Louisiana Tech’s 45-16 victory over Middle Tennessee. In addition to his interception for a score, Abraham broke up two passes and made three total tackles. His three interceptions for a touchdown are the most by an FBS player this season.

Arkansas State junior safety Cody Brown: He tied his career high with seven tackles, posted one pass break-up and returned his third interception of the season 30 yards for a touchdown during Arkansas State’s 37-27 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette.  Brown, who has now picked off a pass in three consecutive games, led an Arkansas State defense that limited Ragin’ Cajuns quarterback Jalen Nixon to just 17-of-44 passing.  His final tackle of the night came at a crucial moment in the game. Trailing by just 10 points with over seven minutes to play, Louisiana-Lafayette drove all the way to the Arkansas State 33-yard line before Brown came up with a fourth-down tackle of running back Elijah McGuire.

MATCHUP OF THE WEEK:  

Notre Dame at Temple on Saturday. The Owls will be going for their first 8-0 start in school history in their last non-conference game of the season before finishing with four straight American Athletic Conference foes. If Temple could beat the Fighting Irish, the Owls would own their first home victory as a ranked team since 1941. Owls’ standout senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich, the NCAA’s active career tackles leader, leads a defense that has 12 interceptions in its first seven games. The Temple rush defense ranks sixth nationally (91.9 yards allowed a game) and scoring defense ranks eighth (14.6 points allowed a game). Notre Dame has lost only at Clemson this year. With a balanced offensive attack and a solid defense, led by tackle Sheldon Day and linebackers Jaylon Smith and Joe Schmidt, Notre Dame is the Owls’ stiffest test since its home-opener, a victory over Penn State.

SCOOBY WRIGHT III  UPDATE

2014 Bronko Nagurski winner Scooby Wright III of Arizona.

2014 Bronko Nagurski winner Scooby Wright III of Arizona.

Arizona’s junior linebacker Scooby Wright III, the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, went down with a left knee injury midway through the first quarter of the Wildcats’ 42-32 season-opening victory over Texas-San Antonio on Sept. 3. He had surgery to replace a torn lateral meniscus two days later. He returned for the first time in Arizona’s game against UCLA on Sept. 26. His left knee held up, but he suffered a right foot injury in the 56-30 loss to the Bruins. Wright finished with seven tackles in the UCLA game, five unassisted. He has missed the Wildcats’ last four games and will be out again for the Washington game on Saturday in Seattle, it appears.

 SPOTLIGHT ON A BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY CANDIDATE

Presenting Baylor’s top defensive lineman Andrew Billings. CLICK HERE for the story.

 

SPOTLIGHT ON A BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY WINNER

Charles Woodson, 1997 Bronko Trophy Winner, still going strong in NFL. CLICK HERE for the story.

NCAA FBS INDIVIUDAL DEFENSIVE STATISTICS NATIONAL RANKINGS 

NCAA Current FBS Sack Leaders

NCAA Current FBS Solo Tackle Leaders

NCAA Current FBS Tackles for Loss Leaders

NCAA Current FBS Total Tackle Leaders

BRONKO NAGURSKI WATCH LIST

Click here to see the entire Watch List.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com or 214-870-6516.

ABOUT THE CHARLOTTE TOUCHDOWN CLUB AND ITS SPONSORS

The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C., region. The club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or jrocco@touchdownclub.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is touchdownclub.com.

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