Fresno State safety Juju Hughes was honored on Monday as the Mountain West defensive player of the week, the first time in two full seasons and parts of two others that a Bulldogs’ player had earned a weekly honor from the conference.
Hughes, a sophomore out of Hanford High, had six tackles including four solo stops, two tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry in the Bulldogs’ 27-10 victory at San Jose State.
“Juju has been really solid,” coach Jeff Tedford said. “I’m really happy for him. It’s well-deserved. He has been playing very solid all year. He has been very coachable. He tackles well, reads his keys, had a great interception last week.
“He’s running to the ball, practices hard every day, paying attention to all the little things, so it’s nice to see that pay off for him because he has come a long way.”
The interception was the first for Hughes in his Fresno State career.
Linebacker Kyrie Wilson was the Bulldogs’ most recent player of the week, earning defensive honors on Nov. 10, 2014 after recording six tackles, two tackles for loss and one interception in a victory over San Jose State.
That is 34 weeks and 96 players of the week between Hughes and Wilson, though the Bulldogs didn’t exactly do much over that time to merit a player of the week award.
Fresno State had a running back gain 100 yards in a game only eight times and none of them got very close to 200 yards in a game – Dontel James had 169 yards on 27 plays in a loss last season at Nevada.
The Bulldogs had a quarterback pass for 300 yards or more only three times, the most productive game coming from Brian Burrell, who threw for 332 yards in a loss to Boise State in the MW championship game on Dec. 6, 2014 – after the MW handed out its last player of the week awards for the year.
Fresno State had a receiver catch 10 passes in a game only three times, though they did have a receiver rack up 100 or more receiving yards nine times.
Fresno State safety Juju Hughes is the first Bulldogs’ player to be honored as a player of the week in the Mountain West Conference since Kyrie Wilson in 2014, a span of 34 weeks and 96 players of the week.
The one player who figured to gain player of the week consideration: Zack Greenlee, who threw for 285 yards and six touchdowns in a victory at Hawaii in 2015. He did it, though, the same week Boise State wideout Thomas Sperbeck caught a school and conference record 20 passes for 281 yards. The Broncos did lose that game 31-24 to New Mexico.
Fresno State is the only team in the conference that did not have a player of the week in 2016. It also is the only team that did not have a player of the week in 2015.
Wilson was the Bulldogs’ only player of the week in 2014; it had been 11 weeks since Derek Carr was the offensive player of the week on Nov. 25, 2013 after throwing for 527 yards and seven touchdowns in a victory over New Mexico in his final game at Bulldog Stadium.
Fresno State in winning its second of back-to-back conference championships in 2013 had six players earn conference player of the week awards a total of nine times. Carr was the offensive player of the week three times, wideout Davante Adams was the offensive player of the week twice, linebacker Ejiro Ederaine was a defensive player of the week and kicker Colin McGuire, wideout Isaiah Burse and tight end Marcel Jensen were special teams players of the week.
Along with Hughes, this week’s MW players of the week are Nevada running back Kelton Moore (offensive) and Utah State quarterback D.J. Nelson (special teams).
Moore rushed for 216 yards on just 16 plays with five receptions for 46 yards and one touchdown in a 35-21 victory over Hawaii. Nelson had a blocked punt and returned it for a touchdown in a loss to Colorado State.
Hughes was not available for an interview – the Bulldogs’ players are off on Monday during the season.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
NEW MEXICO AT FRESNO STATE
- Saturday: 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium (41,031)
- Records: Bulldogs 3-2, 2-0 Mountain West; Lobos 3-2, 1-1
- Webcast/radio: AT&T, ROOT/KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Of note: New Mexico had a bye week following a 56-38 victory over Air Force, its second win in a row. The Lobos went into the weekend averaging 266.8 rushing yards per game, third in the Mountain West. Running back Richard McQuarley tied a school record with five rushing touchdowns in the victory over Air Force and is leading the Lobos’ attack, averaging 5.9 yards per play and 60.2 yards per game.