Davidson, Taylor Named Pac-12 Players of the Week
SAN FRANCISCO, – Sun Devil Football defensive lineman D.J. Davidson and defensive back D.J. Taylor each earned Pac-12 Player of the Week honors, the conference announced Tuesday morning.
Coming off a season-opening 41-14 victory over Southern Utah, Davidson and Taylor take home two of the six available Player of the Week awards in the initial week of play. The duo had a significant impact in Thursday's dominant win, the 22nd consecutive victory in a home opener for the Sun Devils (2020 excluded due to unusual circumstances across the country).
After collecting four Player of the Week awards a season ago despite playing in only four games, Sun Devil Football continues to add to their trophy case under Head Coach Herm Edwards. Since he arrived in Tempe prior to the 2018 season, Arizona State has had an incredible 25 Pac-12 Player of the Week selections, fourth-most in the conference. It is the seventh time that two Sun Devils have earned the distinction in the same week over the past four years. This is the first-career weekly conference award that Davidson or Taylor have received. Since 1983, Sun Devils have won a total of 138 Pac-10/12 Player of the Week Honors.
D.J. Davidson – Defensive Lineman of the Week
Senior defensive lineman D.J. Davidson was a disruptive force in the middle of the Sun Devil defense. He was a big reason why Southern Utah only managed 78 yards rushing, making six stops (three solo) from his nose tackle position. Despite seeing double teams for a majority of the game, it did not stop Davidson from being extremely productive. He finished with two tackles for loss, batted down a pass, and recovered a fumble during an excellent season debut.
According to Pro Football Focus, he was the Pac-12's highest-graded defensive lineman in run defense this week (90.5) and had the second-best overall run defense grade in the conference behind Oregon's Noah Sewell. He finished as the sixth-highest graded overall defender in the Pac-12 for week one. Davidson was part of 5 defensive stops, the second-most in pac-12. He was involved in 27 snaps, with 15 of those regarded as "key plays" by PFF. Davidson was the 8th-highest graded player nationally on run plays and second in the country among defensive interior players.
D.J. Taylor – Special Teams Player of the Week
Redshirt freshman defensive back D.J. Taylor picked up right where he left off last season, electrifying the Sun Devil fans for the first time in person with several brilliant returns. Not only did he collect 55 kick return yards, he added 87 punt return yards, the highest total by anyone in the conference during week one. He only needed three attempts to collect those 87 yards, averaging 29 yards per return. Taylor's 47-yard punt return is the longest of any player in the conference this season. He went over 100 all-purpose yards for the third time in five games as a Sun Devil. Taylor by himself finished with more punt return yards than any other team at the FBS level.
Taylor was the highest-graded player in the entire country on punt plays this week (83.6) according to PFF. The 83.6 rating was actually 10 points higher than any other player nationally. His elusiveness was on full display, as he forced three missed tackles despite only touching the ball five times. Taylor teamed up with Rachaad White to form a dynamic punt return duo, with the two combining for 123 punt return yards, the 53 more yards than any other team in the nation after week one.
Next up, the Sun Devils will take on UNLV on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. PT. The game will be televised on ESPN 2, with Beth Mowins, Kirk Morrison, and Dawn Davenport on the call.