Cal Football: Bears Win a Pair of Conference’s Weekly Awards

Cal Football (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Cal Football (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Following Cal football’s win against the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday, a pair of Golden Bears have taken home Pac-12 weekly awards.

For the third time in their last four games, a Cal football player has been named the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Week. And for the first time this season, a Cal player earned the conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week honor.

Junior safety Ashtyn Davis earned the defensive award for a career performance against the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday, while senior punter Steven Coutts got the special teams award.

Davis was part of the turnover party in the first half. He picked off Colorado quarterback Steven Montez on the sixth play of the game, recording Montez’s second interception of the day. Elijah Hicks made the first interception and returned it for a touchdown, then Davis followed in his footsteps. Davis also went for six, his second touchdown of the season along with a kick return score, putting the Bears ahead 14-0 less than two minutes into the game.

Davis had another interception later in the first half, recording what would be the Buffaloes fifth turnover of the game. When Montez overthrew a receiver in the middle of the field, Davis was ready and waiting to make his second pick of the day. Later on, Davis would seal the game for the Bears. On Colorado’s final offensive play of the afternoon, Montez threw deep down the right sideline to Juwann Winfree, but Davis came over and knocked the ball away before it got to Winfree, finishing off the game for the Buffs. The safety also recorded three solo tackles.

In his first season as a full-time starter, Davis has become a reliable presence in a strong defensive backfield for Cal. His two interceptions on Saturday give him four on the season, a total that leads the Bears and is tied with two others for the most in the Pac-12. His 48 total tackles ranks third on the Cal defense, as do his five pass breakups. He also has 1.5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery while starting all 11 games.

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Coutts was instrumental in the field position game on Saturday. While Cal’s offense struggled to gain any yardage time and time again, Coutts was able to bail them out with good punt after good punt. He booted eight times against Colorado, averaging 46.4 yards per punt, and five of his kicks were downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Three of those kicks were downed inside the 10-yard line.

Two of Coutts’ punts also resulted in turnovers that gave Cal the ball back. On his first kick early in the first quarter, cornerback Traveon Beck forced a fumble that safety Quentin Tartabull recovered. In the second quarter, K.D. Nixon muffed Coutts’ punt, and Daniel Scott fell on the ball inside the Colorado 20-yard line.

Coutts has quietly been excellent all season long, consistently helping out a staggering offense. Rather than giving opponents good field position drive after drive when the offense fails to pick up a first down, Coutts’ punting prowess has allowed the defense to work with big fields. The Queensland, Australia-native has punted 58 times on the season, and he has pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line 30 times, by far the most in the Pac-12. His longest punt this year is 73 yards, the biggest boot in the Pac-12 this season.

Davis and Coutts are the third and fourth Cal players, respectively, to win weekly Pac-12 awards this season. The previous two were both defensive players, with linebacker Evan Weaver winning the award last month after Cal’s upset win over the Washington Huskies, and defensive end Luc Bequette taking it home following their streak-breaking win against USC.

Next. Bears Take Advantage of Colorado Miscues. dark

While the regular season is over for the rest of the conference, Cal will have another chance to take home some hardware, as will their rivals from across the Bay, Stanford. The two will play their annual Big Game, making up for the game that was postponed last weekend.