Week Twelve of the college football season saw some spectacular individual performances. Many of them came from offensive players in high profile contests.
Boise State wideout and return specialist Titus Young made his bid to be the No. 1 rated senior at the position with eight receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns in a dominating performance by Boise State over Fresno State.
This week's reigning Prospect of the Week -- Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi - was just as dominant in the Badgers win over Michigan this past weekend as he was during the annihilation of Indiana a week previous.
I reviewed their game film and of more than a dozen other highly touted senior prospects, writing about most of them in either this Weekend Review or Draft Slant , our weekly PDF file for premium subscribers. During the film review for these articles, however, the play of Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea stood out.
As is often the case with dominant interior defensive linemen not named Ndamukong Suh, Paea's statline don't do him justice. He registered six tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble on the night. His forced fumble, the 8th of his career, gives the OSU career title.
Pac-10 officials recognized just how important Paea's performance was to the Beavers "upset" bid at home over USC. For his efforts Paea earned conference Defensive Player of the Week honors.
In reality, Paea (pronounced Pie-uh) deserved more for his role in the Beavers 36-7 trashing of the then No. 20 ranked Trojans. He thoroughly dominated Trojans' left guard Michael Reardon and often center Kris O'Dowd -- NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 rated senior center -- whenever O'Dowd came to double-team (which was often). In fact, at times, the Trojans triple-teamed Paea, sending their backs to chip the 6-1, 312 pound defensive tackle.
Using perhaps the best bull rush in college football, Paea continually drove Reardon into the backfield, virtually eliminating USC's interior running game, himself. At times, he was able to slip off and make the tackle for loss or sack, himself. On most other occasions, his play opened up easy tackle for loss or short gain opportunities for his teammates.
Take the opening play of the second quarter, for instance.
The Trojans were driving, down only 3-0. Paea drives Reardon and O'Dowd deep into the pocket, pushing Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley to hurry his throw. The pass was intercepted by Beaver defensive back Jordan Poyer and returned 65 yards for an Oregon State touchdown.
Paea was also responsible -- though again indirectly -- for the hit that knocked Barkley out of the game with only seconds left in the first half. Again double-teamed off the snap, Paea attempted to loop around to the right side. Rather than gain freedom, the two blockers assigned to him (Reardon, O'Dowd) followed him. There, they and right guard Khaled Holmes focused on Paea, while the Beavers' other starting defensive Kevin Frahm simply rushed upfield to sack Barkley, pinning his ankle under him in the process.
Scouts knew of Paea's brute strength. That facet of his game has been obvious since he transferred in from Snow Junior College two years ago. Paea has made significant gains this season in terms of his mobility and overall awareness on the field.
There are few 6-1, 312 pound defensive tackles drafted in the first round. Paea, however, could be one of them.