Welcome back to our CougCenter Player of the Week feature. This is the first time we've honored a player after a loss, since absolutely nobody deserved recognition after the season opener. Even though the Cougs couldn't quite pull out a victory in Strawberry Canyon last Saturday, there were still a few performances that merit recognition. For the second consecutive week, our honoree comes from the defense.
2nd Runner-Up: Hercules Mata'afa
Even though he's just a redshirt freshman, Mata'afa is seeing more and more time in the rotation as the season progresses. After a sackless first half for the defense, Hercules led the charge in the second half as the defense collected three sacks of Jared Goff. Mata'afa played a big part in two of them, with a sack-and-a-half. In all, he had three tackles for loss, totaling 13 yards, and six tackles overall. If he develops like many think he will, Mata'afa will probably show up in this space many times in the future.
1st Runner-Up: Gabe Marks
Yes, Marks did have a costly fumble, but he also made a couple other great catches, including a beauty on a fade pass that ended up being WSU's final score of the game. Once again, he was Luke Falk's go-to receiver, and he came through nearly every time. Marks caught another 10 passes for 141 yards and the touchdown. For the season, he leads to conference in catches and is second in yards. I have a feeling he'll be in the running for POTW nearly every week.
Winner: Marcellus Pippins
Pippins did a masterful job of baiting Jared Goff into an interception on Cal's first drive of the game. He took a drop like he was going to cover the deep receiver, which Goff read and threw toward the shallow receiver on the same side. Pippins then accelerated toward the ball and picked the pass off, setting up WSU near the 50. Later in the game, he nearly had another interception but couldn't quite bring it in. Pippins was also Johnny-on-the-spot when Shalom Luani separated Kenny Lawler from the ball in the third quarter, recovering the fumble. Finally, he had seven tackles and broke up two passes. He did give up his share of catches, but Cal has a tremendous stable of receivers. All in all, Pippins played a heck of a game.
And even if Pippins had played a terrible game, he probably deserves the award for this:
Who do you think deserves this week's honors?