College Football All-Week 3 Team
Before we turn our full attention to Week 4 of the 2012 college football season, let’s take a look at some of the top individual performances of Week 3.
The following slideshow contains my All-Week 3 Team. These guys really brought their 'A' game to the gridiron and forced the entire country to take notice.
Rankings are listed as follows: No. in AP poll/No. in USA TODAY poll. Rankings updated through Sept. 18, 2012.
Quarterback: David Ash (No. 12/10 Texas)
Week 3 Result: 66-13 W at Mississippi
Week 3 Stats: 19-for-23 passing, 82.6 completion percentage, 326 yards, 4 touchdowns, 259.1 rating; 2 carries, 19 yards, 9.5 yards per carry
The University of Texas began 2012 with a quarterback competition, but David Ash has ended that competition decisively through three games.
Ash engineered 66 points against SEC opponent University of Mississippi. The Rebels came into Week 3 with a 2-0 record, but they did not face comparable competition until the Longhorns came to Oxford. Well, perhaps Ole Miss has yet to face comparable competition after the beat-down it received from Ash and Texas.
With the biggest question in Austin presumably answered—the No. 1 quarterback question—Texas should have no problem returning to the FBS elite after disappointing performances in 2010 and 2011.
Running Back: Brendan Bigelow (California)
Week 3 Result: 28-35 L at No. 16/NR Ohio State
Week 3 Stats: 4 carries, 160 yards, 40.0 yards per carry, 2 touchdowns
Isi Sofele carried the ball 21 times for the University of California in Week 3 against Ohio State University, but perhaps nobody in FBS was more efficient offensively than running back Brendan Bigelow.
Bigelow averaged 40 yards per carry…that’s right, 40 yards per carry…against the Buckeyes. Two of those runs went for touchdowns.
Unfortunately, Bigelow’s efforts came in a Golden Bears' loss.
Running Back: Chris Thompson (No. 4/4 Florida State)
Week 3 Result: 55-0 W vs. Wake Forest
Week 3 Stats: 9 carries, 197 yards, 21.9 yards per carry, 2 touchdowns; 2 receptions, 23 yards, 11.5 yards per reception; 220 yards from scrimmage
I was excited for Florida State University’s Week 3 game against Wake Forest University because I wanted to see if the Seminoles could continue their dominance against FBS opponents. Florida State shot down any doubts I had with its performance against the Demon Deacons.
Chris Thompson was the star of the Seminoles' 2012 ACC opener. Thompson finished the game with 21.9 yards per carry—an impressive number that was possibly only dwarfed by California running back Brendan Bigelow’s 40 yards per carry against Ohio State.
Thompson’s 197 rushing yards ranked No. 3 across FBS in Week 3, but neither of the two ahead of him could muster 10 yards per carry.
It must really feel like the 1990s in Tallahassee right now with the way the Seminoles are playing.
Wide Receiver: Chad Bumphis (No. 23/23 Mississippi State)
Week 3 Result: 30-24 W at Troy
Week 3 Stats: 6 receptions, 180 yards, 30.0 yards per reception, 3 touchdowns
Mississippi State University finally has that Top 25 ranking it awaited for three weeks and wide receiver Chad Bumphis put on a show to get the Bulldogs into the polls.
The Bulldogs held a slim two-point lead over Troy University until Bumphis’ third touchdown catch closed the door with seven minutes remaining in the game. Mississippi State fed the hot hands in crunch time and Bumphis delivered.
Bumphis’ 180 receiving yards led all FBS players in Week 3.
Wide Receiver: Allen Robinson (Penn State)
Week 3 Result: 34-7 vs. Navy
Week 3 Stats: 5 receptions, 136 yards, 27.2 yards per reception, 3 touchdowns
Allen Robinson has taken an unexpectedly giant leap into the spotlight of Penn State University’s offense.
In 2011, Robinson placed No. 13 on the team with 29 receiving yards. In 2012, Robinson already has 322 receiving yards and leads the Nittany Lions.
That shows how much Penn State lost to graduation and to transfers following the Jerry Sandusky scandal and attached sanctions the NCAA placed on the program.
Robinson carried the torch for the Nittany Lions in their victory over the Naval Academy. It was Penn State's first win under new head coach Bill O’Brien's. Though Robinson was No. 10 amongst FBS players in receiving yards in Week 3, his 27.2 yards per reception and three receiving touchdowns got him on this list.
This was a big week for Robinson and for Penn State.
Tight End: Zach Ertz (No. 9/11 Stanford)
Week 3 Result: 21-14 W vs. No. 13/12 Southern California
Week 3 Stats: 3 receptions, 71 yards, 23.7 yards per reception, 1 touchdown
Heisman hopeful Matt Barkley went 0-4 against Stanford University as the University of Southern California’s quarterback and the fourth loss was not by (former Cardinal quarterback Andrew) Luck.
In Week 3, the Cardinal might have ended the Trojans’ national title hopes for 2012. In the same game, Zach Ertz showed why tight ends rule on The Farm.
Ertz torched the then top-three team in the country for 23.7 yards per reception and had the game-winning touchdown catch. Stanford’s execution in the running game put Ertz on this list, though.
The Cardinal generated 202 yards on the ground against Trojans and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.
Remember, Stanford had the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft at quarterback and three of the first 42 selections—two from the offensive line and one at tight end. The changes on offense have done their part and kept the Cardinal amongst the nation’s elite.
Defensive Line: Chris Jones (Bowling Green)
Week 3 Result: 15-27 L at Toledo
Week 3 Stats: 4 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Chris Jones did not collect many tackles for Bowling Green State University in its Week 3 game against the University of Toledo, but Jones made the most of his limited output.
Jones got two sacks and forced a fumble on just four tackles.
Even though the Falcons lost to the Rockets, Jones made his linebackers and defensive backs a little happier by bringing down ball-carriers before they could do damage in the open field.
Defensive Line: Jadeveon Clowney (No. 7/8 South Carolina)
Week 3 Result: 49-6 W vs. UAB
Week 3 Stats: 7 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks
In the University of South Carolina’s Week 3 game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Jadeveon Clowney showed why he was the No. 1 overall high school recruit in 2011.
With Clowney’s help, the Gamecocks held the Blazers to a minute 27 rushing yards and 0.6 yards per carry.
UAB is an overmatched opponent for South Carolina, but Clowney could already be one of FBS’ best defensive ends as a true sophomore.
Defensive Line: Damontre Moore (No. 38/39 Texas A&M)
Week 3 Result: 48-3 W at SMU
Week 3 Stats: 6 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, 1 pass defended
Damontre Moore continues to have an outstanding start to the 2012 season, as he also appeared on my All-Week 2 Team.
Texas A&M University got a break from the SEC in Week 3 after losing its inaugural conference game to the University of Florida, but Moore did not step off the gas to compensate for the weaker opponent in Southern Methodist University.
Thanks in part to Moore, the Aggies look to have an SEC-ready defense in their first season in the conference. Texas A&M ranks No. 11 nationally through Week 3 with 11.5 points allowed per game.
Defensive Line: Travis Long (Washington State)
Week 3 Result: 35-27 W at UNLV
Week 3 Stats: 9 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks
Travis Long was on display in FBS’ only Friday game in Week 3, but he still had a more impressive showing than most other defensive linemen on Saturday.
Long registered nine tackles for Washington State University against the University of Nevada Las Vegas, which is quite high for a defensive end/linebacker combo player.
Perhaps most importantly, Long’s efforts led to new head coach Mike Leach’s first win with the Cougars against an FBS program.
Linebacker: Nick Clancy (Boston College)
Week 3 Result: 13-22 L at No. 29/30 Northwestern
Week 3 Stats: 24 tackles
Nick Clancy has kept the linebacker legacy at Boston College alive, following in the footsteps of Mark Herzlich and Luke Kuechly.
After just one game, Clancy jumped the rest of FBS for the lead in tackles. Why? Clancy collected 24 tackles in Week 3 against Northwestern University.
Yes, that is one tackle for every hour of the day.
Clancy could not stop Northwestern from defeating Boston College, but he gets an A-plus for effort.
Linebacker: Kevin Pierre-Louis (Boston College)
Week 3 Result: 13-22 L at No. 29/30 Northwestern
Week 3 Stats: 17 tackles, 1.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks, 1 pass defended
If not for teammate Nick Clancy’s 24 tackle effort in the same game, Kevin Pierre-Louis could have racked up even more tackles for Boston College in Week 3 against Northwestern University.
The Wildcats ran exactly 100 plays in the game, so Pierre-Louis—along with Clancy—got plenty of opportunities to bring down ball-carriers. More specifically, the linebacker pair was more active than usual, because Northwestern called 60 running plays.
Pierre-Louis and Clancy are stars on an otherwise below-average defense in Chestnut Hill. Boston College has allowed 389.3 yards of offense per game through Week 3.
The Eagles lost to its first two FBS opponents, so the defensive excellence of Pierre-Louis and Clancy has not resulted in much good.
Opposing offenses should try to keep the ball away from Pierre-Louis and Clancy as much as possible. Considering these two rank in the top six in tackles in FBS, this is easier said than done.
Linebacker: Yawin Smallwood (Connecticut)
Week 3 Result: 24-21 W at Maryland
Week 3 Stats: 14 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Yawin Smallwood was disruptive in many ways for the University of Connecticut against the University of Maryland in Week 3.
The scariest part? Smallwood is only a sophomore. Watch out, Big East.
Smallwood leads FBS with nine tackles for loss through Week 3.
Linebacker: Phillip Steward (Houston)
Week 3 Result: 6-37 L at No. 19/19 UCLA
Week 3 Stats: 13 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks, 1 pass defended, 1 forced fumble
Phillip Steward affected the University of Houston’s Week 3 game against the University of California, Los Angeles all over the field. Too bad the rest of the Cougars' defense was unable to stop the potent Bruins' offense.
Steward was not Houston’s leading tackler in the game—that honor goes to Trevon Stewart—but Steward gets the nod on this list, because he was the better all-around defender.
Steward ranks No. 2 amongst FBS players with 39 tackles through Week 3.
Defensive Back: Phillip Thomas (No. 41/NR Fresno State)
Week 3 Result: 69-14 W vs. Colorado
Week 3 Stats: 2 tackles, 2 interceptions, 59 return yards, 29.5 yards per return, 2 return touchdowns, 2 passes defended
Fresno State University's Phillip Thomas is the first player this season in FBS to get two interception return touchdowns, and both came in one game.
If that was not enough to put him on this list, Thomas collected two tackles and broke up two passes in the Bulldogs' victory over the University of Colorado.
Meanwhile, Colorado threw more touchdown passes to Thomas than to its own players (one touchdown reception). Ouch.
Defensive Back: Jordan Richards (No. 9/11 Stanford)
Week 3 Result: 21-14 W vs. No. 13/12 Southern California
Week 3 Stats: 4 tackles, 1.0 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 4 return yards, 2.0 yards per return, 6 passes defended
The Stanford pass defense, led by Jordan Richards, held USC quarterback and Heisman hopeful Matt Barkley to a pedestrian 48.8 completion percentage in Week 3.
Richards grabbed both of Stanford’s interceptions and broke up six passes from the right arm of arguably the top prospect eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft.
As I mentioned in the Ertz slide, Luck was not on Stanford’s side this time, either.
Richards not only intercepted two footballs, but also possibly a national championship dream for the Trojans.
Defensive Back: Sheldon Price (No. 19/19 UCLA)
Week 3 Result: 37-6 W vs. Houston
Week 3 Stats: 1 tackle, 3 interceptions, 8 return yards, 2.7 yards per return, 5 passes defended
Houston attempted 60 passes in its Week 3 game against UCLA, and Sheldon Price intercepted three of those passes. As a team, UCLA intercepted five passes.
Though the Cougars averaged 7.3 yards per carry, they never gave up on the passing game. UCLA’s defense—especially Price—took advantage of that.
Price cashed in on the mistakes of his opponents, to say the least.
Defensive Back: Jonathan Dowling (NR/No. 45 Western Kentucky)
Week 3 Result: 32-31 W (OT) at Kentucky
Week 3 Stats: 4 tackles, 3 interceptions, 70 return yards, 23.3 yards per return, 3 passes defended
Just as Houston, the University of Kentucky made it easy for the defensive backs by throwing up 61 passes in its Week 3 game against Western Kentucky University. Jonathan Dowling was the biggest beneficiary.
Dowling snatched three interceptions away from the Hilltoppers’ SEC opponent. Following those turnovers, Dowling advanced the ball back up the field for his offense with 70 interception return yards.
Defeating the Wildcats after meeting Alabama in Week 2 has given Western Kentucky quite a test heading into Sun Belt play.
Kicker: Jeff Budzien (No. 29/30 Northwestern)
Week 3 Result: 22-13 W vs. Boston College
Week 3 Stats: 5-for-5 field goals (42, 20, 29, 41, 19), 1-for-1 extra points, 16 points
Jeff Budzien single-handedly outscored Boston College in Week 3 for Northwestern.
Four of Budzien’s five field goals put Northwestern ahead of Boston College.
Hey, luckily somebody was scoring for the Wildcats.
Punter: Brad Wing (No. 2/2 LSU)
Week 3 Result: 63-14 W vs. Idaho
Week 3 Stats: 5 punts, 226 yards, 45.2 average; 2 returns, -5 yards, -2.5 yards per return
Possibly to your surprise, my top punter in Week 3 comes from the No. 2 team in the country. Indeed the University of Idaho got Louisiana State University to punt five times.
Brad Wing is one of the best in the business, so when the Tigers need to punt, they have no problems pushing their opponents even further away from the end zone. Wing could be a First Team All-American in 2012, and he showed why in Week 3.
Three of Wing’s five punts were not returned. Idaho lost a total of five yards on punt returns in the game. So, if the Vandals decided to fair catch those two returned punts, Wing’s net punting average would have decreased.
Wing’s 48.6 yards per punt ranks No. 4 in FBS through Week 3.
Kick Returner: Tyler Lockett (No. 15/13 Kansas State)
Week 3 Result: 35-21 W vs. North Texas
Week 3 Stats: 2 returns, 119 yards, 59.5 average, 1 touchdown
Kansas State University's Tyler Lockett was the Walter Camp First Team All-American at kick returner in 2011 and he is off to the races again in 2012. Lockett’s 43.2 yards per kickoff return ranks No. 4 in FBS through Week 3.
Punt Returner: Kenzel Doe (No. 36/24 Wisconsin)
Week 3 Result: 16-14 W vs. Utah State
Week 3 Stats: 1 return, 82 yards, 82.0 average, 1 touchdown
Kenzel Doe’s one-hit wonder in the third quarter of the University of Wisconsin’s Week 3 game against Utah State University gave the Badgers momentum to avoid starting the 2012 season at 1-2.
Though Doe’s score was not the game-winning one, he proved true the concept of returners being like home run hitters in baseball. The game can change on that one play.
It is unfortunate that a Rose Bowl team from a season ago needed a punt return to get its first touchdown in Week 3, but if the first three weeks are any indication of things to come in Madison, finding the end zone will not be the easiest of tasks.
Wisconsin's 16.3 points per game ranks No. 116 in FBS through Week 3.