Story courtesy of Conference USA
Photo courtesy of East Carolina Athletics
A pair of sophomore quarterbacks that threw for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns share this week's Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week award, as East Carolina's Shane Carden and Marshall's Rakeem Cato share the honors. The Defensive Player of the Week went to UCF senior LB Troy Davis, who had two sacks and a forced fumble in the Knights win over SMU. Special teams recognition was given to Tulane junior K Cairo Santos, who kicked a school-record 57-yard field goal against Rice. C-USA Football Players of the Week are voted on by a panel of the league's media.
Carden completed 31-of-43 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns to lead East Carolina to 48-28 victory over Houston. He threw all four TDs in the first half, throwing for 215 yards on a 20-of-27 effort in the first 30 minutes while also rushing for 35 yards on just three carries (11.7 ypr). Carden's completion percentage of 72.1 was the second-highest clip of the season, while his 50-yard toss to Derrick Harris marked the fourth time in the last five games in which he has completed a pass of 50 yards or more. He found eight different receivers on two or more occasions against the Cougars to help ECU rack up 550 yards of total offense - the Pirates' second-highest total of the year. In the last five games, Carden has completed 42-of-53 (79.4%) passes for 569 yards and five touchdowns in first quarter action alone, while in the last four contests, has completed 62-of-82 (75.6%) for 780 yards and seven TDs in first half play.
Cato hit on 34-of-44 passes for 341 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 38-28 win over Memphis. With Marshall clinging to a 31-28 lead midway through the fourth quarter, the MU signal-caller hit wideout Davonte Allen on a 28-yard TD on fourth-and-6 to put the game out of reach. Cato is currently the nation's leader in completions (318) and passing yards (3,290) and is fourth in total offense (3,292) and fifth in touchdown passes (27).
UCF's team leader in sacks this year, Davis came through with two more sacks in the Knights' 42-17 win against SMU. He also had five tackles, a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry. His two sacks went for a combined loss of eight yards and they both occurred on the first drive of the game, forcing SMU to punt. That gave momentum to the offense which found the end zone on its first drive. For 2012, Davis has 6.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and 9.0 TFLs. He now has 17 career sacks, and is 1.5 sacks shy of entering UCF's top 10.
Santos connected on two field goals, including a school-record 57-yarder just before halftime and five PATs for 11 points in Tulane's 49-47 loss to Rice. Santos also nailed a 42-yarder in the fourth quarter and improved his perfect season to 14-of-14 on field goal attempts this season. Santos is just one of three FBS field goal kickers that are perfect on the year. Santos surpassed the previous record of 54 held by himself with a kick vs. ULM on Sept. 29, 2012, Ed Murray vs. Memphis on Oct. 28, 1978, and Mark Olivari vs. Air Force on Nov. 8, 1975. Santos' 57-yard field goal ranks as the third longest among FBS players this season.