Pitt'swas our Panther of the Week for his monster game against Louisville and on Monday, he was recognized by the league offices as well, winning the ACC's Defensive Lineman of the Week award. This is the second time he's won the award - he also was honored after the Notre Dame game.
Price's big game at this point doesn't really need to be repeated, but it's a little hard to put into context just how dominant he was. He finished the game with five sacks, and that was the most of any Pitt player with at least 4 1/2 in nearly 20 years (1987).
The five sacks he had were the most by an FBS player all year and nearly doubled his sack total on the season. The 11 1/2 sacks he now has is the most by a Pitt player since 2000. He is now averaging just over a sack per game, which ranks him first in the ACC and fourth in the nation. Price had six tackles for losses in that game and that also vaulted him among the nation's leaders. He now has 18 tackles for losses on the year and that ranks him sixth in the nation.
In retrospect, this was one of the biggest defensive performances of the season. By anybody.
I typically don't pay too much attention to these things, but it will be interesting to see if he garners any national attention at season's end for awards. He wasn't anywhere on the radar for anything but ranking so high up in sacks and tackles for losses now, I'm wondering if he could at least get some consideration for defensive player awards where possible - particularly if he puts together a strong game against Miami. The quandary is if he needed to be named as a finalist for them, which he certainly wasn't have been before this weekend. He's basically thrust himself into that position on the strength of a single game. That might be a reason he is sort of dismissed at the end of the year, but the Louisville game really pushed him near the top of some pretty important categories.
Noteworthy, too, was that Price was mentioned quite a bit by head coach Pat Narduzzi in his press conference on Monday. "Ejuan keeps getting better and better," Narduzzi said. "And I said this a long time ago, but I wonder what would've happened if he played that second half of Iowa. He got a little dinged up, I don't know if it was an ankle or whatever it was. It was so long ago. But he can rush the passer, he can stop the run, he has a motor, he's fast. He's not the tallest guy in the world, but he can move and he's not easy to block."
Interestingly enough, Narduzzi said that his being among the leaders in sacks wasn't based on the strength of one game. That's true to a degree, but considering that he got nearly half of his sacks in one game, the work he did against Louisville was obviously a huge chunk of that.
Narduzzi also mentioned that they cannot petition for his sixth year of eligibility (something that they have already stated they will due because of all the time he's missed due to injuries) until the season (including the bowl game) is over. It was already assumed that getting him back next year would be big but after getting a taste of what he did against Louisville, it's safe to say that it's even more important the Panthers get that extra year for him.