Sunday, September 16, 2012

Nick Williams, Yawin Smallwood earn national honors

UConn senior Nick Williams was one of five players named by the College Football Performance Awards site as national punt returner of the week while sophomore linebacker Yawin Smallwood earned honorable mention recognition.

Williams returned a punt 58 yards to account for the first points in UConn's 24-21 win over Maryland. He finished with 60 yards on two punt returns and added 52 more on a pair of kickoff returns. He shared the weekly honor with Duke's Lee Butler (106 on three punt returns including 65-yard TD in win over North Carolina Central), Wisconsin's Kenzel Doe (82-yard yard punt return in win over Utah State), Rashad Greene of Florida State (60-yard return for a score among his five punt returns) and Virginia Tech's Kyshoen Jarrett (returned punt 94 yards for a score in loss to Pittsburgh).

Smallwood, CFPA's national linebacker of the week following the season-opening win over UMass, had 14 tackles, 3.5 tackles for losses, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble which led the Chad Christen's field goal.

Smallwood is tied with Florida State's Bjoern Werner atop the FBS statistics with an average of 11 tackles for losses (teammate Sio Moore ranks 19th with 1.83 TFL), is eighth with four sacks in three games and is tied for 10th with an average of 11.7 tackles per game. Trevardo Williams (with 4.5 sacks in three games) ranks third nationally while Moore checks in at No. 12 with 3.5 sacks in the first three games. Also, senior cornerback Dwayne Gratz's two interceptions in three games ranks 13th nationally.

Williams is eighth among FBS players with an average of 21.7 yards per punt return and also ranks 28th nationally with an average of 26.6 yards per kickoff return. Williams and Temple's Matt Brown are the only FCS players to average more than 20 yards per punt and kickoff return this season.

For a team standpoint the Huskies are tied with Tulsa for the top spot with an average of 10.67 tackles for loss a game, UConn is ranked third in total defense, having allowed 174 yards per game and fifth in rushing defense (51 yards per game).

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