Dec. 7, 2009
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - Arizona senior defensive tackle Earl Mitchell has been named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week, the league off announced on Monday.
Mitchell, who was earlier named Second Team All-Conference, was stellar on the interior of UA's defensive line last Saturday in the Wildcats' 21-17 upset at No. 20 USC. Mitchell finished the game with six tackles (five solo) three tackles for loss and two sacks.
Perhaps no tackle was more important than Mitchell's sack of USC quarterback Matt Barkley on the Trojans' second to last possession. The Wildcats had just reclaimed the lead, 21-17, in dramatic fashion, but over three minutes remained on the clock for a potential USC drive. Mitchell's sack on first down put the Trojans behind the chains and they could never recover, turning the ball over on downs after failing to get a first down.
Arizona's offense nearly ran the clock the out on its final possession, but three seconds remained for USC as it took over at its own 21-yard line. Mitchell abruptly ended any possibility of a miracle play for the Trojans as he again sacked Barkley, ending the game.
The victory secured UA a berth in the Holiday Bowl and capping UA's 12th eight-win regular season in school history. The Wildcats returned to the national rankings on Sunday at the same time the Trojans dropped out of the polls for the first time in 130 weeks, including 102 games played.
Mitchell, who has 44 tackles, including 12.5 for loss and 6.5 sacks, is the fifth Wildcat to win a weekly honor from the league office this season. Previously, Devin Ross (defense), Nick Foles (offense), Cam Nelson (defense) and Alex Zendejas (special teams) were recognized.
Arizona's Pac-10 Players of the Week (Under Stoops)
2004: Antoine Cason vs. Northern Arizona (defense)
2005: Michael Johnson vs. Oregon State (defense)
Nick Folk vs. Oregon State (special teams)
2006: Antoine Cason vs. Washington State (defense)
Antoine Cason vs. California (defense)
Nick Folk vs. BYU (special teams)
Nick Folk vs. Oregon (special teams)
Spencer Larsen vs. Oregon (defense)
Antoine Cason vs. Oregon (special teams)
Aelx Zendejas vs.Arizona State (special teams)
Earl Mitchell vs. USC (defense)