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CougCenter Player of the Week: Hercules Mata’afa

NCAA Football: Eastern Washington at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not often that you see a final score of 47-44 and think, “The best candidates for the weekly award are all from the defense.” Well, Saturday’s win over Boise State wasn’t exactly normal. There were three defensive touchdowns, for one thing. For another thing, defenses are at a significant disadvantage during college overtimes, especially if the games go two or three OTs.

Also consider - The over/under for this game was 58. The score after three quarters was 17-10. Entering the fourth quarter, would any of you have ever thought the total would go over? How about that it would go over by 30 points? Ok so I was the only one who saw that coming? I figured.

As the first three quarters would indicate, this game was actually a decent defensive battle for most of the time. As the game wore on, I went from “not really sure if there will be any nominees from the offense” to “yeah I’m not going to waste my time on a POTW column this week” to “HOLY HELL THERE ARE SO MANY CANDIDATES NOW.” Sports!

Let’s get to it.

Honorable Mention: #Forces

Since this is a “player” of the week column, I try to keep it to individuals and not units as a whole. Still, the special teams merits some recognition. WSU punters put four of their seven boots inside the 20, and averaged a very respectable 41 yards-per-punt. Oh, and Erik Powell banked one off a Boise State player that ended with WSU tying the game at 31.

The kickoff team only gave up 16 yards per return and even had two touchbacks, which seemed incredibly rare last season. We’ve seen quite an improvement this season, especially since the party line for years has been, “just try and avoid disaster.”

Dishonorable Mention: Rod Gilmore

Look, Rod Gilmore isn’t shy about mentioning the fact that he went to Stanford. I thought smart people went to Stanford? It was bad enough that he called WSU’s best defensive player “Ma’afala” at one point (he corrected it shortly after). But then he kept trying to pound home the fact that WSU couldn’t emulate Boise’s scheme during practice since WSU doesn’t have any tight ends.

Does that doofus think Boise is the first team WSU has faced that uses tight ends? You know who else uses tight ends? STANFORD. STANFORD USES THEM A LOT. You’ll recall, again, that Gilmore went to Stanford. WSU didn’t seem to have much of an issue last year when THEY WENT TO STANFORD AND WON BY 26 WHY AM I YELLING OH YEAH IT’S BECAUSE NOW THAT ESPN FIRED MARK MAY ROD GILMORE OWNS THE TITLE OF BIGGEST ESPN COLLEGE FOOTBALL ANNOUNCING STOOGE OK I’LL STOP YELLING NOW.

2nd Runner-Up: Renard Bell

I don’t know about you, but before the Boise State game, the only thing I knew about Renard Bell is that he has awesome hair. Turns out he’s a pretty good slot receiver, too. He was the only receiver to go over 100 yards Saturday, and would have had an easy touchdown if Falk hadn’t underthrown him on a route which put him 10 yards behind every defender. The offense sorely needs big contributions from the slot, so hopefully Bell continues to shine.

1st Runner-Up: Peyton Pelluer

Yeah, yeah. I’m well aware that Pelluer was the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week. He deserved it. He led the team with 14 tackles, and collected a pick six that swung momentum got the Cougars back into the game. It’s clear that Pelluer is the leader of the defense, and I am sure that he’ll continue to produce this season. The problem is that, as a middle linebacker, he’s more of a lunch pail guy and not a big playmaker. Well, except for that play that was super spectacular.

Winner: Hercules Mata’afa

Mata’afa continues to be a one-man wrecking crew. Jeff Choate said something like that last week. This week, it was Boise State who learned that there is no way to replicate Mata’afa’s strength and speed with some scout team walk-on. Hercules was WSU’s most disruptive player, logging half of a sack, forcing a fumble and leading the team with three tackles-for-loss. There were countless other plays where Hercules, while not making a tackle, ruined what Boise State was trying to do. Like I mentioned last week, Mata’afa is a pretty sure bet to wind up somewhere on this page nearly every week this season.


Who was WSU’s Player of the Week?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Hercules Mata’afa
    (114 votes)
  • 23%
    Peyton Pelluer
    (44 votes)
  • 2%
    Renard Bell
    (4 votes)
  • 13%
    Rod Gilmore ok not Rod Gilmore he’s dumb
    (26 votes)
188 votes total Vote Now