It’s usually easy to award CIC MVP to someone on the offense.
After all, Donald Hammond III did toss three scores and grab a rushing TD as well Saturday against CSU. For Army, Kelvin Hopkins came in and rushed for over 200 yards on the ground and a touchdown in their win over VMI. Connor Slomka added three TDs of his own in that game.
However, across all three service academies this year, it has consistently been the defense that has kept the teams in games. In fact, all three schools have scoring defenses in the top 35 in the country. Guys like Cole Christiansen and Elijah Riley for Army are having monster seasons. Tre Bugg, Demonte Meeks, Kyle Johnson, and Zane Lewis are doing the same for Air Force (shoutout to Lewis for that 99 yard pick-six to help the Falcons cover on Saturday!). Jacob Springer and Diego Fagot have been critical to Navy’s defensive resurgence.
The fact that all three schools sit in the Top 35 for scoring defense is pretty dang impressive, and to be honest, we haven’t given them their due here in our CIC MVP Awards, but that’s not the case this week!
It’s always really cool when a senior player who has fought for his chance over the course of four seasons emerges in a game down the stretch to put on the performance of his career as that career is winding down and nearly complete.
Senior Jake Ksiazek did just that this past weekend in Air Force’s game against Colorado State. He entered Saturday night’s game having never recorded a sack in his career. His most tackles ever before Saturday-three against Navy earlier this year. In fact, he recorded one tackle all of last year, also against Navy, and two tackles with a tackle for a loss the year before that.
All Jake Ksiazek did Saturday night was grab career highs in tackles, sacks, tackles for loss, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries in the game against CSU.
In a game in which his team was playing from behind for the first three quarters, he anchored a defense that kept them in it until the offense could get things going in the fourth.
He ended the game with four tackles, three sacks, two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. That was enough to earn him Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week honors, and it was more than enough to earn him CIC MVP honors here at AAE for this week! Congrats Jake!