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.
DERRICK HOPKINS • DT, Virginia Tech
KYLE FULLER • CB, Virginia Tech
Hopkins and Fuller played a game of "Mr. Inside/Mr. Outside" to shut down Georgia Tech's triple-option attack, relying on Hopkins's strength to eliminate dives up the middle and Fuller's quickness to shoot gaps in the line, disrupting the quarterback's rhythm on his second read. The result: The Yellow Jackets managed just 129 yards rushing on 3.1 per carry, barely a third of the way to their season average, in a 17–10 loss that put the Hokies in the driver's seat in the ACC Coastal.
Although Hopkins won on the stat sheet with a team-high seven tackles, Fuller was a gadfly, abandoning his usual role in coverage to shoot gaps, take on offensive linemen and generally harass Jacket QB Vad Lee on every play that wasn't a handoff up the gut. Officially, he was credited with two tackles for loss and a forced fumble that set up Virginia Tech's first touchdown, an incredibly athletic, instinctive play on the game's opening series:
I guarantee Georgia Tech didn't see that in practice, although once opposing coaches see the way Virginia Tech used Fuller in this game, they may have to start.
GEORGIA'S OFFENSIVE LINE
Talented as it may be, clearly LSU's front seven hasn't reloaded as quickly as expected from the departures of Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery, Bennie Logan and Kevin Minter. (After that kind of exodus, it speaks volumes to the reputation of LSU's front seven that everyone just assumed they would.) Still, it's a testament to the starting five–Kenarious Gates, Dallas Lee, David Andrews, Chris Burnette and Kolton Houston–that the Tigers struggled to lay a hand on Aaron Murray in a 44-41 shootout, and that the running game didn't miss a beat in the absence of star tailback Todd Gurley. Since 2007, LSU has averaged seven tackles for loss per game; against the Bulldogs, it only managed two.
BRADLEY ROBY • CB, Ohio State.
Roby spent the non-conference schedule paying his dues, showing contrition for an offseason arrest by sitting out one game and coming off the bench in two others. With slightly higher stakes on Saturday, Roby was back to All-American form against Wisconsin, accounting for eight tackles (one for loss), three passes defended and the only takeaway of the game, a third-quarter interception that set up Ohio State's final touchdown. As per his scouting report, Roby stands out from the handful of elite cover corners in the 2014 draft class by proving equally valuable against the run.
CHRIS BORLAND • LB, Wisconsin.
Not to be outdone, Borland picks up his second Lowsman nod of the year for a 16-tackle performance against the Buckeyes that sounded as impressive in real time as it looks in the box score:
I don't know if I believe Borland is 5'11"/246, as Wisconsin claims, but I bet Carlos Hyde does.
HA'SEAN CLINTON-DIX • S, Alabama.
Clinton-Dix led the Crimson Tide with eight tackles (six solo) and a pair of passes broken up against Ole Miss, which failed to score in Tuscaloosa after putting up 39 points at Vanderbilt and 44 at Texas. The Rebels managed a grand total of 205 yards of total offense on 3.6 per play, and also turned the ball over on downs on all three trips inside the Alabama 30-yard line, thereby becoming the 19th team Bama has held without an offensive touchdown since 2008.
OUTSIDER OF THE WEEK: Antonio Andrews • RB/KR, Western Kentucky.
In 2012, Andrews led the nation in all-purpose yards and came within 100 yards of breaking Barry Sanders' single-season record. Through five games in 2013, Andrews is back on top after accounting for 252 yards and both of the Western Kentucky's touchdowns in a 19–7 upset over Navy. Altogether, Andrews touched the ball on half of the Hilltoppers' offensive snaps (37 of 74) and was responsible for the majority of the team's yards from scrimmage. Just another day at the office in the classroom.
The Lowsman Trophy Watch was created by Robert Weintraub. Want to nominate a player for the Lowsman? Drop us a line.
Matt Hinton writes about college football for Football Outsiders and SB Nation's Football Study Hall. Follow on Twitter, @MattRHinton.