Lowsman Trophy Watch: Jadeveon Clowney Arises

Each week, Football Outsiders recognizes the most outstanding college linemen, defenders and other darkhorses from the previous weekend who are habitually overlooked in the hype for that other award (whatever it's called). These are the Lowsmen.

LAMARCUS JOYNER • DB, Florida State
Jameis Winston was the headliner, but the initial spark in FSU's 51-14 obliteration of Clemson came from Joyner, who caused a pair of fumbles in the first quarter that led directly to the Seminoles' first two touchdowns–one of them an easy scoop-and-score for DE Mario Edwards caused by Joyner's blindside sack of Tajh Boyd off the corner. For the game, Joyner finished with eight tackles (all solo) and an interception that set up another score, at the head of a defense that held Clemson to arguably its worst offensive game since Boyd took over as the starting quarterback in 2011.

MICHAEL SAM • DE, Missouri.
For the second week in a row, Sam stood out in a validating upset for the Tigers, looking every bit the prototypical Ess Eee See pass rusher with three sacks in a 36-17 win over Florida. (Fellow end Kony Ealy made his mark from the other side as well, with a sack, a forced fumble and three QB hurries.) Unable to deal with the rush, the Gator offense crossed midfield just once and finished with its worst output in terms of total yards (155) since the 1999 SEC Championship Game.

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WILL SUTTON • DT, Arizona State
Through ASU's first six games, Sutton was another preseason All-American who looked more like a bust, coming in for criticism from scouts over the "bad weight" he put on over the offseason and his rough night at Stanford opposite NFL-bound guard David Yankey. Against Washington, he was back to his old, disruptive self in the middle of the line, keeping the Huskies in the red via three tackles for loss, a sack and a pass broken up in a 53–24 rout. Through its first six games, Washington averaged 248 yards rushing on 50 carries, including 268 yards against Boise State, 244 against Arizona and 194 against Oregon; against the Sun Devils, the ground game finished with -5 yards on just 25 carries, including -55 yards on seven sacks. (Individually, UW tailback Bishop Sankey–who woke up Saturday as the nation's leading rusher in terms of both yards and attempts, averaging 31 carries per game against FBS defenses–ran 13 times for 22 yards, his lowest total in 18 games.) Altogether, the Huskies finished with negative yardage on seven of 16 offensive possessions and went three-and-out on 11.

JORDAN RICHARDS • S, Stanford
Richards was credited with a team-high 10 tackles and a pair of interceptions against UCLA, both leading to short-field touchdowns for the Cardinal offense in a 24-10 win. For the game, the Bruins managed just 266 yards of total offense, less than half of their season average through the first five games and their worst single-game output since October 2010. Seven of UCLA's 11 offensive possessions ended in a punt, and six ended without a single first down.

JADEVEON CLOWNEY • DE, South Carolina
Finally, college football's answer to Paul Bunyan lived up to the legend for the first time this season, recording three tackles for loss and generally harassing the Tennessee backfield throughout a 23-21 loss. He even turned in a highlight-worthy hit on the Vols' Rajion Neal, who later denied Clowney another TFL in the box score by awkwardly pitching the ball forward for an incomplete pass on his way to the turf. Any other backs who think about trying that might want to work on getting the pass out before they get rocked.

OUTSIDER OF THE WEEK: Davante Adams • WR, Fresno State
Adams went 75 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the game against UNLV, the first his four TD receptions–all from more than 25 yards out–in a 38-14 blowout that moved the Bulldogs to 6-0 on the season. A week after recording a career-high 16 catches for 185 yards against Idaho, Adams finished with eight for a career-high 221 yards against the Rebels, accounting for the majority of quarterback Derek Carr's 412-yard total.

SEASON STANDINGS
1. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
2. Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
3. Michael Sam, DE, Missouri
4. Jake Matthews , OT, Texas A&M
5. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
6. David Yankey, OG, Stanford
7. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
8. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
9. Dante Fowler, DL, Florida
10. Hroniss Grasu, C, Oregon


The Lowsman Trophy Watch was created by Robert Weintraub. Want to nominate a player? Drop us a line.

Matt Hinton writes about college football for Football Outsiders and SB Nation's Football Study Hall. Follow on Twitter, @MattRHinton.