Coastal Division Contenders Lead ACC Football Players of the Week
North Carolina, Pitt lead the way with two selections each
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – North Carolina and Pitt – the remaining teams in contention for the Coastal Division title – lead the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Football Player of the Week selections with two apiece following key wins on Saturday.
North Carolina’s Landon Turner was recognized as the ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week for the fourth time this season, while Ryan Switzer earned Specialist of the Week honors for the second time this year for their performances in the now 12th-ranked Tar Heels’ 59-21 win over Miami.
Pitt’s Jordan Whitehead was voted the ACC Rookie of the Week for the second week in a row and the third time this season, while Mike Caprara picked up Linebacker of the Week honors for their play in the Panthers’ 31-13 win at Duke.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson of top-ranked Clemson was named the ACC Offensive Back of the Week for the third time in 2015 after leading the Tigers’ 37-27 win at Syracuse. Virginia’s Canaan Severin was voted the Receiver of the Week, Louisville’s Devonte Fields the Defensive Lineman of the Week, and Florida State’s Derwin James the Defensive Back of the Week.
ACC Football Player of the Week selections are determined by a vote of a 14-member media panel.
Watson completed 34-of-47 passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns, and added 13 rushes for 101 yards and a score in Clemson’s 37-27 win over Syracuse. Watson’s 461 yards of total offense rank fifth best in Clemson history. He became just the second player in Clemson history to throw for 350 yards and add 100 yards rushing in the same game. He averaged 7.8 yards per rush, while his 34 completions were the third most in Clemson history. Watson guided Clemson to 566 yards of total offense, which marks the sixth straight game Clemson has had at least 500 yards.
Turner graded out at 93 percent, had 10 knockdown blocks and did not allow a sack or pressure in North Carolina's 59-21 win over Miami. Turner led the way as the Tar Heels had two 100-yard rushers (Elijah Hood with 132 yards and Marquise Williams with 101) and accumulated 298 rushing yards as a team. With Turner in the game, Carolina averaged more than seven yards per carry.
Severin caught eight passes for 116 yards and a career-high three touchdowns in Virginia’s 38-31 loss at Louisville. His final reception of the game resulted in a 16-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-10 with 1:16 left to play. Severin’s other touchdown catches were for 30 and 23 yards, as he became the first UVA player to record three TD receptions in a game since 1994.
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN – Devonte Fields, Louisville, Jr., DE, 6-4, 245, Fort Worth, Texas
Fields spearheaded a Cardinals’ defensive effort that limited Virginia to 94 yards on the ground and just 354 yards of total offense in Saturday’s 38-31 Louisville victory. Starting at defensive end, Fields tallied five tackles, including one quarterback sack and 3.5 total tackles for lost yardage.
LINEBACKER – Mike Caprara, Pitt, Jr.-r, OLB, 6-0, 230, Turtle Creek, Pa.
Caprara compiled eight tackles, two sacks, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup in Pitt’s 31-13 win at Duke. He was a leader on a Pitt defensive unit that limited the Blue Devils to minus-2 rushing yards in the second half. Caprara helped slam the door on the Blue Devils in the fourth quarter with a seven-yard sack and, three plays later, a fumble recovery to ice the game.
DEFENSIVE BACK – Derwin James, Florida State, Fr., S, 6-3, 212, Haines City, Fla.
James led FSU with 10 tackles and had a sack, a quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery in the 16th-ranked Seminoles’ 34-17 victory over NC State. The versatile playmaker harassed NC State on blitzes, stopped the run and was exceptional in coverage as the Wolfpack was held scoreless in the second half for the first time this season.
SPECIALIST – Ryan Switzer, North Carolina, Jr., PR, 5-10, 185, Charleston, W.Va.
Switzer claimed sole possession of the ACC record for most career punt return touchdowns with seven when he scored on a 78-yard punt return in the second quarter of North Carolina’s 59-21 win over Miami. It was his second punt return touchdown of the season and seventh of his career, which is one shy of tying the NCAA all-time record. The NCAA record of eight is held by Wes Welker of Texas Tech (2000-03) and Antonio Perkins of Oklahoma (2001-04). He entered the game tied for the ACC career record with Maryland’s Steve Suter, who had six.
Whitehead earned Rookie of the Week honors for the second consecutive week after producing on both sides of the ball in Pitt's 31-13 victory at Duke. In his starting strong safety role, he had a team-high nine tackles, broke up a potential TD pass in the end zone with a jarring hit and snuffed out Duke's final threat with a fourth-quarter interception at the Pitt 7-yard line. Whitehead also was a productive ball carrier, averaging 9.5 yards per carry with 38 yards on four attempts.