Not only did Tom Zbikowski score two touchdowns against Tennessee on Nov. 5, he tied for the team lead in tackles with nine and recorded the first sack of his career.

Zbikowski Earns Master Coaches Survey Game Ball For Performance Against Tennessee

Nov. 7, 2005

Junior safety Tom Zbikowski, currently in the running for two player of the week awards, has received a game ball from the Master Coaches Survery this week. The MCS Game Balls are announced each week of the season, with awards given to offensive, defensive and special team players, along with accolades to offensive coordinators and defensive coordinators.

The official release by the Master Coaches Award follows. Zbikowski, who also is a nominee for the USA Today player of the week and the Cingluar/ABC Sports All-America Player of the Week, will be Notre Dame’s special teams captain for the third time this season when the Irish face Navy in Notre Dame Stadium Saturday, Nov. 11 (1:00 p.m. kickoff).

Master Coaches Award release –

Atlanta, Georgia (November 7, 2005)–In Saturday’s premier match-up between No. 3 Virginia Tech and fifth-ranked Miami, it didn’t take UM assistant coach Randy Shannon’s defense long to prove why it ranks No. 1 in the nation in both total and pass defense. Led by linebacker Rocky McIntosh, the Hurricane defense shut down the run and harassed Hokies quarterback Marcus Vick into some bad decisions … ultimately knocking Virginia Tech from the previously unbeaten ranks and out of the national championship picture.

For Shannon’s and McIntosh’s roles in Miami’s dominating 27-7 victory over the Hokies, the Master Coaches Survey has awarded them MCS Game Balls for their respective selections as Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Player of the Week. North Carolina State running back Andre Brown, Notre Dame punt returner Tom Zbikowski and Arizona offensive coordinator Mike Canales also will receive game balls for their respective performances in games over the weekend.

Special Teams
Tom Zbikowski, Notre Dame

When describing Notre Dame safety’s Tom Zbikowski’s complete-game performance against Tennessee Saturday, Irish head coach Charlie Weis said, “I think every time he touches the ball, there’s a chance that something good’s gonna happen.” Zbikowski proved his coach right by returning a punt 78 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, then putting the finishing touches on his team’s 41-21 victory with a 33-yard interception return for a TD late in the game. The safety has now contributed some kind of return for a touchdown to each of the Irish’s last three games, becoming the first defensive player in program history to post four touchdowns in a three-game span.

Andre Brown, North Carolina State

Andre Brown was determined to make the most of his first career start for North Carolina State against ACC rival Florida State on Saturday. The 19-year-old running back delivered on the second play of the game, bursting through an opening and sprinting 65 yards for a touchdown to give the Wolfpack an early lead over the Top 10-ranked Seminoles. “To do something like that on the second play of the game, it ignited a spark,” NC State head coach Chuck Amato said. “They found out in a hurry that he is for real.” In all, Brown rushed for 179 yards on 26 carries in NC State’s 20-15 win.

Rocky McIntosh, Miami

Miami linebacker Rocky McIntosh’s fumble recovery at Virginia Tech’s 29-yard line with just over five minutes into the contest started the ball rolling, so to speak. By game’s end, the Canes’ defense was credited with six turnovers–all by Hokies quarterback Marcus Vick, who also was sacked a season-high five times. McIntosh led the charge for Miami’s defense with 10 tackles, two sacks and his fumble recovery, as Vick was limited to only 90 yards on 8-of-22 passing and Virginia Tech was held to 167 yards of total offense.

Offensive Coordinator
Mike Canales, Arizona

According to Arizona offensive coordinator Mike Canales, one of the keys to the game in the Wildcats’ 52-14 victory over previously unbeaten and seventh-ranked UCLA on Saturday was “we were able to jump out front, get a lead and play with some confidence.” Thanks to Canales’ excellent play-calling, Arizona accounted for 519 yards of offense, including 320 rushing yards, in the rout over its Pac-10 rival. Willie Tuitama, an 18-year-old freshman in his second college start, threw for two early touchdowns, including a 48-yarder over the middle to fellow freshman Mike Thomas which put Arizona ahead 21-0 in the first quarter.

Defensive Coordinator
Randy Shannon, Miami

With his team facing the nation’s second-rated passer in Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick, Miami defensive coordinator Randy Shannon figured his squad needed to make the Hokies one-dimensional. His strategy worked to perfection, as Virginia Tech managed a mere 53 yards during the first half, with Vick completing just one six-yard pass in 10 attempts. Miami’s defense also turned four lost fumbles by Vick and two interceptions into 17 points, and held its opponent to less than 200 yards for the fifth consecutive game.

About the Master Coaches Survey

The Master Coaches Survey, an advisory poll comprised of 16 former college football coaches, includes 10 College Football Hall of Fame members and represents five national championships and over 2,900 all-time victories combined. Based on the MCS system, the voters review all relevant game tapes following each week of competition, discuss the teams’ performances during a weekly conference call, then establish a ranking of the Top 25 teams. The results are released to the media each Wednesday afternoon and to the public on ESPN Classic’s Classic Now later that evening. The MCS Top 25 also can be found on the MCS website (, including a breakdown of how the coaches voted.

As part of their Top 25 selection process, the coaches not only attend games across the nation, but spend countless hours reviewing DVDs of the previous weekend’s match-ups. Through this extensive process, the expert panel of coaches also selects the top players and assistant coaches who will be awarded MCS Game Balls each week.