CFB Top Defensive Performances – Week 1
Joey Blount (Safety) Virginia
Blount had a great game and helped his team do something they had never done before, win a game in Pittsburgh against the Panthers. Never mind you that the Panthers were the reigning ACC Coastal champions and were playing this game at home. Blount delivered his mark in the game mostly after halftime. Blount had two sacks in the second half and had a game-changing interception that squashed a Pitt possession that had methodically went 13 plays over five minutes. Add in that he had 7 total tackles and you can say that Blount had a great day in the Cavalier defensive backfield.
David Woodward (Linebacker) Utah State
The game between the Aggies and Wake Forest was a nail biter down to the very end. Unfortunately the Deacons ended up winning the game but it was not due to Woodward. Woodward lived around the football almost the entire game and ended up posting numbers that were video game-esque. His impact goes far beyond his 18 solo tackles (24 total combined) as he was a true playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. Woodward also accounted for a sack and caused 2 forced fumbles. Woodward made 134 total tackles last season and is well on his way to topping those numbers this season.
Yetur Gross-Matos (Defensive End) Penn State
So before I get into the stats that Gross-Matos posted, you should know that he only played 2 quarters due to the blowout nature of the game. In 2 quarters against the Idaho Vandals, he posted 3 total tackles and 2.5 sacks. The rising Junior pass rusher showed glimpses of the talent he possesses last year with an 8 sack season. It’s great to see him turning his athleticism into production, and performances like this could help him eventually become a first-round pick.
Julian Blackmon (Safety)/ Francis Bernard (Linebacker) Utah
I went with the combination of Blackmon and Bernard because they both helped the Utes of Utah defeat Brigham Young in the Holy War, which is one of the more underrated rivalries in the country. Bernard had 4 total tackles in the game but his biggest involvement was the 58 yard interception return for a touchdown. It allowed Utah to break the tie with BYU and created some separation. In the fourth quarter, Blackmon (5 tackles) copied his teammate with a 37 yard interception that he returned for a touchdown. That play was really the final nail in the BYU coffin and sealed the Holy War victory for the Utes. There were only 6 total interceptions returned for touchdowns in the country and 2 of them were in this game.