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CougCenter Player of the Week: Destiny Vaeao

Vaeao led a stellar defensive line effort Saturday.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to our weekly player of the week feature. For the first time this season, and maybe even the first time in two seasons, we're recognizing a defensive lineman. As you all know, it's much more difficult to evaluate the play of linemen than it is skill players during a telecast, unless you have a trained eye to do so. The biggest reason is that, although statistics don't necessarily measure a player's impact, they really help. Second, most of us naturally follow the ball when we're watching a game, so unless a lineman makes a standout play, his impact may not be noticed.

This week, however, it was the play on the defensive line that kept WSU ahead for most of the game. It's no secret that Stanford has a well-earned reputation for grinding its opponents to dust. They also have a running back (or three) capable of breaking a game open at any point, from anywhere. That McCaffrey did not have a game up to his usual lofty standards is a credit to the entire defense, but especially the line.

Honorable Mention: Gerard Wicks - Wicks continues to churn out yards at an impressive clip, especially given his relative lack of carries. He had another 78 yards on 12 carries Saturday, good for 6.5 per carry.

2nd Runner-Up: Parker Henry

When Isaac Dotson went down early in the season, many probably assumed there would be a drop off in production from the Nickel position. Parker Henry has stepped up to make sure that isn't the case. Not only did Henry lead theteam with 10 tackles (five solo) he intercepted one pass and had another possible interception overturned by replay, on which he scored. Henry had a terrific game, and it's too bad that play was overturned.

1st Runner-Up: Erik Powell

If not for that fateful miss at the end of the game, Powell would have been the runaway winner of not only our player of the week, but also the Pac-12 Special Teams POTW. Final miss aside, Powell tied a school record with five made field goals, and he wasn't exactly kicking in a dome Saturday night. Among those field goals were kicks of 46 and 47 yards, and Powell was a big reason the Cougars were set up with a chance to win the game at the end.

Winner: Destiny Vaeao

No matter who was trying to block him Saturday, Vaeao was more than holding his own. Oh, and it's not like Stanford trots out a bunch of slappies on the offensive line. As is its norm, the Cardinal line is stocked with future NFL players like Joshua Garnett. Vaeao was more than a match for them. Not only did he sack Kevin Hogan, he also forced a fumble that WSU recovered, stopping a Stanford drive near midfield. He may have only tallied two tackles on the stat sheet, but he made life quite difficult on the Stanford offense.