Week 9 of the 2016 college football season produced several big performances and memorable moments from the SEC. Auburn extended its winning streak to five games with a victory over Ole Miss, South Carolina upset Tennessee, and Kentucky moved one step closer to a bowl trip with a win at Missouri. Texas A&M easily handled New Mexico State, Florida used a strong defensive performance to defeat Georgia, and Mississippi State outlasted Samford to round out the Week 9 action.
With the ninth weekend of games in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances from the SEC. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 9:
SEC Week 9 Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Kamryn Pettway, RB, Auburn
Pettway hammered the Ole Miss defense for 236 rushing yards and one score on 30 attempts to lead Auburn to a 40-29 win on Saturday night. Pettway has rushed for 597 yards over the Tigers’ last three games.
Defensive Player of the Week: Jamarcus King, DB, South Carolina
South Carolina’s secondary held Tennessee to just 161 passing yards and did not allow a pass longer than 25 yards on Saturday night. King was a key cog in the Gamecocks’ defensive efforts, as he recorded five tackles, two pass breakups and two interceptions – including a timely pick late in the fourth quarter that helped South Carolina seal the victory.
Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Rhett Lashlee, Auburn
Lashlee earns this award for the second week in a row. Auburn's offense generated 554 yards (7.5 ypp) and 40 points in Saturday night's win at Ole Miss, with eight out of the 10 drives (not counting end of half/game drives) resulting in a score. The Tigers have scored at least 38 points in four consecutive games and recorded 18 rushing scores during that span.
Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Geoff Collins, Florida
Collins and the Florida defense pushed all of the right buttons in Saturday afternoon’s 24-10 victory over Georgia in Jacksonville. The Gators allowed the Bulldogs to only gain 164 yards (3.2 ypp), owned the line of scrimmage with two sacks and eight tackles for a loss, while one drive lasted longer than 26 yards. Additionally, the Florida defense held Georgia to just 21 rushing yards, with standout running back Nick Chubb managing 20 of those yards on nine carries.
Freshman of the Week (Offense): Jake Bentley, QB, South Carolina
Bentley passed on his senior year at high school to join South Carolina this summer, and after not playing through the team's first six games, the coaching staff decided to remove the redshirt after the Oct. 9 loss against Georgia. That decision is paying dividends for coach Will Muschamp, as Bentley is 2-0 as the team’s starter and completed 15 of 20 throws for 167 yards and two scores in South Carolina’s upset win over Tennessee on Saturday night.
Freshman of the Week (Defense): Jabari Zuniga, DL, Florida
Zuniga was part of a strong all-around effort by Florida’s defensive front against Georgia. The freshman recorded three tackles (two for a loss) and four quarterback hurries.
Team of the Week: South Carolina
The Gamecocks scored the biggest win of coach Will Muschamp’s first year with a 24-21 victory over Tennessee. The decision to play true freshman Jake Bentley at quarterback has paid dividends for the offense, while South Carolina’s defense limited the Volunteers to just 4.6 yards per play and forced three turnovers in Saturday night’s win.
Unsung Hero of the Week: Benny Snell, RB, Kentucky
South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley earned Athlon’s SEC Freshman of the Week honors, but let’s give a tip of the cap to Snell for his strong performance against Missouri. The freshman led the way for Kentucky’s ground attack by recording 192 yards and two scores on 38 attempts.