SAN JOSE -- San Jose State linebacker Keith Smith's performance against BYU made him the fifth Spartan to win the Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week this season.
The junior matched a career high with 19 tackles. He had two tackles for loss, including a sack, and forced two fumbles. His biggest contribution was a sack and forced fumble of BYU quarterback Riley Nelson that the Spartans recovered with 1:16 left to seal the 20-14 win.
"He's really played well," SJSU coach Mike MacIntyre said of Smith. "He's a big key in our defense. I'm really excited for Keith and how he's doing."
On the play that wrapped up the victory, defensive end David Tuitupou helped kick out BYU's right tackle, leaving an open lane for Smith to fly through on a blitz. He hurdled an attempted block by Cougars' running back Jamaal Williams to deliver the blind side hit on the left-handed quarterback Nelson. The ball flew back five yards and teammate Vince Buhagiar covered it up.
"It was like a dream almost," Smith said after the game of that play. "Especially how it just came my way. The defensive ends had outside contain, kept them in the pocket and it came my way."
Smith joins defensive end Travis Johnson, linebacker Buhagiar and defensive backs Bené Benwikere in earning the WAC honor. Johnson and Benwikere have won it twice, giving the Spartans seven defensive players of the week over the course of their 11 games.
SJSU wraps up the regular season on Saturday when it hosts Louisiana Tech at 7:30 p.m.
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