SJSU linebacker Keith Smith wins WAC defensive honors

SJSU linebacker Keith Smith wins WAC defensive honors
November 19, 2012, 10:31 pm
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Spartan junior linebacker Keith Smith was given the Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors Monday for his prime-time performance helping the SJSU defense stop BYU in Saturday nights 20-14 win.
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Smith tied a career high with 19 total tackles two for a loss and none more significant, impressive or timely than his final tackle, a nine-yard sack and forced fumble of Cougars quarterback Riley Nelson with 1:16 left in the game.The fumble was recovered by fellow linebacker Vince Buhagiar and stopped a forceful fourth-quarter BYU drive, which reached the Spartan 21-yard line before the turnover. It prevented the Cougars from creating some late-game heroics and led to a set of kneels from quarterback David Fales to secure the 20-14 win. In order to get to Nelson, Smith hurdled Cougar running back Jamaal Williams, who was blocking out of the backfield.Our whole motto all week was play harder for longer than they do, and we did, head coach Mike MacIntyre said Monday. When it looked like everything was falling apart, they rose to the occasion. His play, in that circumstance that late in the game, playing linebacker, playing every snap, 19 tackles, rushing the passer, running all around ... I cant explain what a Herculean effort that was.Most people would just run into the guy because theyre tired he hurdled the guy, pogo-stick jumped about four yards in the air, hits him hard, knocks the ball loose and we win the game.Smith, a native of Covina, Calif., is the fifth different Spartan defensive player to receive this award, joining Buhagiar, defensive end Travis Johnson (twice), safety Cullen Newsome and defensive back Bene Benwikere.Smith also received National Linebacker Performer of the Week honors by College Football Performance Awards for his stellar game on Saturday. SJSUs regular season will conclude this Saturday at Spartan Stadium when it faces Louisiana Tech. The game will be aired on ESPN2 with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. NATIONAL RECOGNITION SJSU received votes in both the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls in the same week for the first time this season.The Spartans were given eight votes in the AP poll, slotting them 33rd in the nation. They are ranked 32nd nationally according to the USA Today poll, which yielded seven votes for SJSU.Its a great acknowledgment for our coaching staff and our kids, they deserve that, MacIntyre said. If we keep winning, at the end of the day, it would be fun to stay there permanently.In addition to the team appearing in both polls, coach MacIntyre was named one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Football Club Collegiate Coach of the Year, announced by Ron Jaworski, the clubs president.Im humbled by it, but the credit really goes to all of our players and coaching staff for their tireless efforts and work and the young men making the plays out there, MacIntyre said in reaction to his recognition. This is representation of the David Fales; the Ryan Ottens; the Noel Grigsbys; the Travis Johnsons; the Keith Smiths; the Vince Buhagiars its them doing it. Its a great honor to be able to honor them with it.The Spartans' nine wins this season exceeds the win total from the 2009 (2), 2010 (1) and 2011 (5) seasons combined.

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