DALLAS (FWAA) – West Virginia safety Karl Joseph picked off three passes and came up with four total turnovers as the Mountaineers rolled to a 44-0 season-opening win over Georgia Southern. Joseph’s domination on defense earned him the AutoNation FWAA Defensive Player of the Week honor.
Joseph, a 5-11, 197-pound senior from Orlando, Fla., had more interceptions (3) than Georgia Southern had completions (2) in the game, all of them coming in the third quarter. Joseph killed the Eagles’ first two possessions of the second half with picks inside Georgia Southern territory, the second of which the Mountaineers punched in for a 23-0 lead that broke the game open.
When Georgia Southern threatened the shutout late in the quarter at the West Virginia 28, it was Joseph again who ended the drive with his third interception. Joseph’s line for the third quarter was 4.5 tackles and three interceptions. He also recovered a fumble in the first quarter, and finished the game with seven solo tackles (eight total).
“I have never given anybody a game ball, but I gave him one down there in the locker room,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “He’s the inspirational leader with what we are trying to do. It’s been fun to watch him mature and grow up. He has played over 3,000 snaps in three years, and for him to take the next step to be the inspirational leader on defense and be the guy that I trust to stand in front of the room and talk and motivate everyone is great. He’s a pretty motivated young man.”
Joseph, a three-year letterman, doubled his career total in the game to six interceptions. Those were his first picks since the 2013 season, and Joseph is the first Mountaineer to nab three interceptions in a game since 2004. West Virginia finished with four interceptions in a game for the first time since 2003.
As part of AutoNation’s history of charitable involvement, AutoNation will donate $1,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) in Joseph’s name. This charitable college football initiative culminates with the AutoNation Cure Bowl, a new post-season NCAA football game that kicks off bowl season at the Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla., and will be aired by CBS Sports Network. The aptly named AutoNation Cure Bowl also serves as a fund raiser for the BCRF, CharityWatch’s only A+ rated breast cancer organization in the country.
“We want to celebrate the very best of college football, while also helping to raise awareness for the importance of finding a cure for cancer,” says AutoNation CMO Marc Cannon. “This season-long partnership with the FWAA, leading up to the AutoNation Cure Bowl, puts a spotlight on a cause that we’re determined to tackle.”
“In our 75th season of existence, this a marvelous platform to get our players and the team of the week series excellent exposure as well as helping AutoNation in its effort to fight cancer and contribute to the educational funds of deserving student-athletes,” said FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. “It is very exciting to be able to help our organization as well as others in this splendid effort.”
The FWAA National Defensive Player of the Week and National Team of the Week, both sponsored by AutoNation for the first time this year, have been determined collectively by a group of FWAA officers and the FWAA All-America Committee for several years. The AutoNation FWAA Offensive Player of the Week has been added this season. Nominations are taken from game performance all over the country each week and then those nominations are reviewed by the FWAA, which determines the actual recipients.
AutoNation is also the new sponsor of the 2015 FWAA All-America Team, which will be comprised of 26 first-team and 26 second-team selections as nominated by the membership and chosen by the FWAA All-America Committee. The 2015 AutoNation FWAA All-America Team will be announced at the AutoNation Cure Bowl on Dec. 19.
Coincidentally, the 2002 and ’03 FWAA All-America teams were honored on the floor of the very same Citrus Bowl Stadium. Over the years, the FWAA’s All-America teams have been honored in different locations and on various media platforms during the second-longest continuous annual selection of an All-America team in major college football.
2015 AutoNation FWAA Defensive Players of the Week
• Week of Sept. 5: Karl Joseph, West Virginia