ACC football players of the week
Boston College sophomore linebacker Luke Kuechly and Florida State sophomore kicker Dustin Hopkins headline a list of six players honored as the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Players of the Week announced Monday by the ACC.
Kuechly, who claimed his third recognition of the season, tallied 21 tackles in the Eagles’ 21-16 victory at Duke. He currently leads the nation in tackles with 146 and became the first player to record two 20-plus tackle performances this season. Kuechly also extended his nation-leading streak of double-digit tackle games to 19. Hopkins’s career-best 55-yard field goal was the longest walk-off field goal in ACC history and gave Florida State a 16-13 win against Clemson. He finished the game with 10 points and also connected on field goals of 28 and 29 yards.
Florida State garnered two recognitions on the week as freshman quarterback EJ Manuel was selected as the offensive back of the week. Also honored were Miami freshman guard Brandon Linder, the offensive lineman of the week. Virginia Tech sophomore cornerback Jayron Hosley was named the defensive back of the week, earning his second recognition of the season. Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien was tabbed rookie of the week for the fourth time this season.
OFFENSIVE BACK – EJ Manuel, Florida State, QB, r-Fr., 6-4, 223, Virginia Beach, Va. (Bayside): In his first start of the season Manuel directed the Seminoles to a come-from-behind 16-13 victory against Clemson. Filling in for starter Christian Ponder, Manuel completed 15-of-24 pass attempts for 210 yards and led the Seminoles in rushing with a career-high 71 yards on 15 carries. Manuel improved his career record to 4-1 as the starter. Trailing 10-6 to start the fourth, Manuel led the ‘Noles on a 12-play, 85-yard scoring drive, capped by his 8-yard touchdown run for a 13-10 lead. He accounted for five first downs, four of which were rushing, and 34 rushing yards along the way. On the game’s final drive with 50 seconds remaining and the score tied 13-13, Manuel drove the ‘Noles 34 yards on seven plays, setting up Dustin Hopkins’ game-winning 55-yard field goal as time expired. He was 3-of-4 for 33 yards passing and pair of first downs, deftly managing the clock.
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN – Brandon Linder, Miami, OL, Fr., 6-6, 300, Southwest Ranches, Fla. (St. Thomas Aquinas): Linder took snaps at center, guard, tackle and tight end for Miami in its 35-10 win over Georgia Tech. While playing four different positions, he managed to grade out at 97 percent with two pancake blocks and one lumberjack. He also played a key role in the Canes posting season-highs in rushing yards (277) and total yards (507).
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN – Luke Kuechly, Boston College, MLB, So., 6-3, 235, Cincinnati, Ohio (Saint Xavier): Kuechly, the nation’s leading tackler, kept a firm grip on that title with 21tackles in the 21-16 win at Duke (9 solos, 12 assists). It marked his second game this year with 20-plus tackles, and he is the only player in the country with two 20-tackle games this year. He extended his streak of games with 10-plus tackles to 19, which is the nation’s longest active streak. Kuechly also had 0.5 TFL for one yard, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and two pass breakups. He was part of a BC defensive interior that held Duke to four total rushing yards and 311 total net yards on the day.
DEFENSIVE BACK – Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech, CB, So., 5-11, 170, Delray Beach, Fla. (Atlantic): Hosley jumped into the national lead for interceptions per game with two picks off North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates in the Hokies’ 26-10 win over the Tar Heels. He now has seven on the season. Hosley returned his fourth quarter pick 12 yards. He is also second nationally in passes defended, averaging 156 per game.
SPECIALIST – Dustin Hopkins, Florida State, K, So., 6-2, 185, Houston, Texas (Clear Lake): One week after missing two fourth quarter field goals, including the potential game-winner, against North Carolina Hopkins delivered the final blow in a 16-13 win over Clemson. Hopkins’ career-long 55-yard field goal as time expired lifted the ‘Noles to victory. The longest walk-off field goal in ACC history was Hopkins’ third in a 10-point performance. He also converted field goals of 28 and 29 yards, while extending his streak of consecutive PAT conversions to 73. Hopkins also registered two touchbacks on four kicks. The Groza Award semifinalist ranks second nationally with 34 touchbacks on the season.
ROOKIE – Danny O’Brien, Maryland, QB, r-Fr., 6-3, 215, Kernersville, N.C. (East Forsyth): O’Brien led the Terps to a 42-23 come-from-behind win over Virginia. The redshirt freshman connected on 18 of his 28 passes for 289 yards, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for another one. He directed six scoring drives, which all resulted in touchdowns, was a perfect 6-for-6 in red-zone efficiency and hit on 10 of his 11 passes in the second half. O’Brien did most of his damage on third down, completing 8 of 12 passes for 152 yards and one score. O’Brien, who is 5-2 as a starter, ranks fourth in the ACC in passing efficiency (133.5) and fourth nationally among FBS freshmen.