Pac-12 Football Performance Awards presented by Nextiva – Week Nine

The USC Trojans and the Oregon Ducks meet in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to play in the 2020 PAC-12 Confrence Championship on Dec. 18, 2020. (John McGillen)

SAN FRANCISCO – The Pac-12 today announced its 2021 football season’s ninth weekly performance awards, presented by Nextiva. See below for Week Nine’s recognitions across the Conference and keep track of the 2021 Offensive Player of the Year watchlist here:

OFFENSE:  Tavion Thomas, Soph., RB, Utah (Dayton, OH)

  • First time winning this award but the third time in the last 4 weeks that a Utah player has won it.  QB Cameron Rising won it in back-to-back in Week Six and Week Seven.  First Utah running back to capture this honor since Joe Williams in October 2016.
  • Paced the Utah ground game vs. UCLA (Oct. 30) with a season-high 24 carries for a career-best 160 yards, and a school-record-tying four touchdowns.  Thomas averaged 6.7 yards per carry, and his four scores (10 yds, 8, 10, 24) were the most on the ground in the Pac-12 this weekend.
  • It was the first four-TD game by a Utah rusher since 2016, eighth in program history and just the third in the Pac-12 since 2019. 
  • Fittingly on the night that Utah retired the No. 22 jersey, Thomas had the most rushing yards in a game by a Ute since the late Ty Jordan had 167 vs. Oregon State during 2020.  In that same theme, Thomas is the first Utah player since Jordan in 2020 both to rush for three touchdowns in a game, and also do so in a half (three for Thomas were in first half).
  • Third multi-touchdown game of the season and fourth of his career.  Thomas recorded his third 100-yard rushing game, fifth by a Ute this season (three different players) and fifth of Thomas’ career. 
  • Utah’s 469 yards of total offense were the most by the team this season and fourth straight game amassing 400-plus yards.

Also nominated:  Chase Garbers, QB, California; Calvin Jackson, Jr., WR, Washington State; Anthony Brown, QB, Oregon; Trevon Bradford, WR, Oregon State; Tayvian Cunningham, WR, Arizona; Keaontay Ingram, RB, USC; Brenden Rice, WR, Colorado

Check out the 2021 Offensive Player of the Year Watchlist, presented by Nextiva, to learn more. 

DEFENSE & FRESHMAN:  Carson Bruener, Fr., ILB, Washington (Woodinville, WA)

  • First player to win the Defensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week in the same week since the freshman award was created prior to the 2019 season.  First Washington player to earn the freshman award since QB Dylan Morris won it twice last season.  First Washington player to win the defensive award since LB Edefuan Ulofoshio was selected in November 2019.
  • In the first start of his career, in place of the injured Ulofoshio, Bruener led the Huskies’ defense in a 20-13 win at Stanford. He led all players with 16 total tackles (11 solo, 5 assisted), along with one-and-a-half sacks and a forced fumble.
  • The solo sack and forced fumble came in the third quarter when Bruener hit the Cardinal QB for a nine-yard loss. The ball was recovered by a Husky teammate and then UW got a field goal on the ensuing drive to increase the lead to 12-3. Washington’s defense held Stanford to 67 rushing yards, 261 yards of total offense and just 13 points.

Also nominated for Defense:  Nephi Sewell, LB, Utah; Elijah Hicks, Safety, California; Jahad Woods, LB, Washington State; Avery Roberts, ILB, Oregon State; Jeffrey Bassa, LB/S, Oregon; Anthony Pandy, LB, Arizona

Also nominated for Freshman:  Byron Cardwell, RB, Oregon; Ethan Garbers, QB, UCLA; Brenden Rice, WR, Colorado; Karene Reid, LB, Utah; Will Plummer, QB, Arizona; Eric Gentry, LB, Arizona State; Jaxson Dart, QB, USC; Femi Oladejo, ILB, California

SPECIAL TEAMS:  Peyton Henry, Jr., PK, Washington (Danville, CA)

  • Washington’s veteran kicker did the lion’s share of the scoring in the Huskies’ 20-13 road win over Stanford, tying a career high with four field goals in four attempts, accounting for 12 points.
  • Henry, a Bay Area native, connected on field goals from 24, 37, 35 and 32 yards. He is currently 9-for-11 on field goals this season.
  • First Washington player to win this award since 2017 when Dante Pettis won it three times.  First time a UW kicker has claimed this honor since P/K Travis Coons in October 2013.

Also nominated:  Nick Alftin, TE, California; Cameron Rising, QB, Utah; Alex Stadthaus, PK, USC; Brenden Rice; WR, Colorado

OFFENSIVE LINE:  Nick Ford, Jr., LG, Utah (San Pedro, CA)

  • Second time in the last three weeks that Ford has earned this award.  He also won it in the final week of the 2020 season.
  • Moved over to left guard from center as a result of some injury-related shuffling on the Utah offensive line.  Didn’t miss a beat, as the veteran Ford helped protect for a Utah offense that generated a season-high 469 yards of total offense and scored on all five of its red zone trips.
  • It included a career-best 160 rushing yards for running back Tavion Thomas, who tied a Utah record with four touchdowns on the ground.  Quarterback Cameron Rising was neither intercepted nor sacked on 71 offensive plays, and only two UCLA tackles went for a loss on the night.  Rising had four completions of 15-plus yards (total 73 passing yards) and Utah recorded 11 carries of 10-plus yards (total 162 yards).
  • Ford has led a consistently reliable offensive line which has not allowed a Rising sack in three straight games (total 217 plays).

Also nominated:  Matthew Cindric, C, California; Liam Ryan, OT, Washington State; T.J. Bass, LT, Oregon; Luke Wattenberg, C, Washington; Josh McCauley, C, Arizona

DEFENSIVE LINE:  Ron Stone Jr., RS Jr., Edge, Washington State (San Jose, CA)

  • Third time a Washington State player has won this award in the last five weeks.  Brennan Jackson took it home in both Week Five and Week Seven.
  • Anchored a Cougar defense that forced five Sun Devil turnovers in WSU’s 34-21 win in Tempe.  Stone finished the day with six tackles, four solo, two tackles-for-loss, one sack and a fumble recovery.
  • Of Stone’s six tackles, two were behind the line of scrimmage and the other four went for three yards or less.  Stone currently ranks second in the Pac-12 in tackles-for loss (10.5) and tied for third in sack (5.5).

Also nominated:  Hauati Pututau, DT, Utah; Tuli Tuipulotu, DL, USC; Jalen Harris, DE, Arizona; Voi Tunuufi, DT, Washington