BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — With the 2012 college football season officially over, a pair of Hilltoppers found themselves atop two statistical categories when the final NCAA stats were released on Tuesday.
Junior running back Antonio Andrews ranked first in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 132.9 all-purpose yards per game, while senior defensive lineman Quanterus Smith’s 1.25 sacks per game also held the top spot for 2012. It marks the first time WKU has produced an individual national stat leader since joining the FBS in 2009, and the first time at any level of play since 2000 when Bobby Sippio was the I-AA (FCS) leader with 2.7 pass breakups per game.
With 3,161 all-purpose yards in 2012, Andrews posted the second highest single-season total in FBS history, falling just 89 yards shy of equaling the record of 3,250 set by Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders in 1988. Andrews had four straight games with over 300 all-purpose yards to close out the regular season. Additionally, he rushed for over 100 yards 10 times during his first season as WKU’s starting running back, leading the Sun Belt Conference and ranking fifth nationally with 132.9 rushing yards per game. Andrews also led the league and ranked 15th nationally in punt return yards (12.3 per return) and was third best in the conference and 18th nationally with 27.4 yards per kickoff return.
Despite missing the final two games of the season with an injury, Smith’s sack production in the 10 games he suited up for was enough to continue to hold the top spot in sacks per game at season’s end. Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones was right on Smith’s heels, averaging 1.21 sacks per game for the Bulldogs. With 12.5 sacks on the year, Smith fell just a half sack shy of tying the Sun Belt Conference single-season record. Smith owns three of the top 12 single-game sack totals in 2012, and his five sacks in a win over Florida International were the most by any FBS player this season. He also posted 3.5 sacks at Arkansas State, and his three sacks against eventual national champion Alabama were the most the Crimson Tide allowed to an opposing player in 2012. Additionally, Smith finished his final season on the Hill leading the Sun Belt and ranking fifth nationally with 1.85 tackles for loss per game.
In addition to Andrew and Smith leading the nation in their respective statistical categories, WKU produced another individual top-five finish as sophomore defensive back Jonathan Dowling ranked fifth nationally with six interceptions. In the final conference rankings, junior punter Hendrix Brakefield joined Andrews, Smith and Dowling as league leaders, averaging 42.1 yards punt. However, he did not meet the NCAA minimum of 3.6 punts per game to qualify for the national rankings. Junior linebacker Andrew Jackson also ranked second in the conference in tackles (9.4 per game), tackles for loss (1.35 per game) and forced fumbles (0.31 per game).
As a team, the Hilltopper defense finished as the Sun Belt leaders in total defense (346.6 yards per game — 26th nationally), rushing defense (136.8 yards per game — 34th nationally), sacks per game (2.46 per game — 31st nationally), tackles for loss (7.38 per game — 13th nationally) and pass efficiency defense (131.0 rating). WKU also led the conference and ranked 29th nationally averaging 10.6 yards per punt return.