Week 9 of the 2017 college football season produced several big performances and memorable moments from the SEC. The weekend slate featured Georgia's 42-7 blowout win over Florida in Jacksonville, Mississippi State's 35-14 road victory against Texas A&M, along with Kentucky's last-minute win over Tennessee. Additionally, South Carolina knocked off Vanderbilt, Missouri easily defeated UConn and Arkansas rallied to beat Ole Miss.
With the ninth weekend of the 2017 season 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 College Football Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State
Fitzgerald carried the Mississippi State offense in Saturday night’s win at Texas A&M. The junior completed 12 of 21 throws for 141 yards and two touchdowns and led the offense with 105 yards and a score on the ground. Fitzgerald accounted for 246 of the Bulldogs’ 369 total yards.
Defensive Player of the Week: Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia
A couple of Georgia defenders deserve consideration here after Saturday’s standout performance against Florida. Carter gets the nod after leading the team with nine tackles (one for a loss) and one sack in the 42-7 victory over the Gators.
Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Eddie Gran, Kentucky
Kentucky’s offense managed 371 yards and 29 points in Saturday night’s win over Tennessee, but Gran won this award thanks to his play-calling on the final drive. The Wildcats went 72 yards on 10 plays in just over four minutes to score the game-winning touchdown. Kentucky also tacked on a two-point play to extend the lead to three, which was more than enough to score the program’s second victory over Tennessee in seven meetings. The Wildcats scored touchdowns on three drives of 70 yards or more and had two other drives extend 50 or more yards.
Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Todd Grantham, Mississippi State
Mississippi State’s defense continued its impressive 2017 season under first-year coordinator Todd Grantham by limiting Texas A&M to just 14 points and 285 overall yards. Additionally, 184 of the Aggies’ 285 yards came on the final three drives when the outcome was no longer in doubt. Grantham’s defense also racked up three sacks, six tackles for a loss and three turnovers (with one interception returned for a score) in the 35-14 victory over Texas A&M.
Freshman of the Week (Offense): Cole Kelley, QB, Arkansas
With Austin Allen sidelined once again due to a shoulder injury, Kelley made his third consecutive start under center. The redshirt freshman was instrumental in the win over Ole Miss on Saturday, connecting on 19 of 30 throws for 189 yards and three scores and rushing for 22 yards and one touchdown. Kelley also guided the offense on a 12-play, 62-yard drive to get into position for kicker Connor Limpert to connect on the game-winning field goal with less than 10 seconds remaining.
Freshman of the Week (Defense): Erroll Thompson, LB, Mississippi State
With Dez Harris limited due to injury, Thompson played significant snaps in Saturday night’s game against Texas A&M. The freshman recorded seven tackles (four solo and one for a loss) and one pass breakup.
Team of the Week: Georgia
Georgia was a heavy favorite entering Saturday’s game against Florida, and coach Kirby Smart’s team wasted no time jumping on their struggling rival. The Bulldogs opened up a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and tacked on 21 more points in the second half to win 42-7. Georgia’s offense made the most of its 42 plays, averaging 9.4 yards per play and 8.3 on rushing attempts. Smart’s defense limited Florida’s offense to 249 overall yards, with 71 coming on the game’s last drive. Additionally, the Gators had four three-and-outs and only two drives went longer than 30 yards. Even though Georgia was a heavy favorite, Florida had a history of knocking off the Bulldogs in an underdog role. But Smart and his staff had this team prepared and focused, while the outcome was never in doubt.
Unsung Hero of the Week: A.J. Turner, RB, South Carolina
With Rico Dowdle sidelined due to a significant leg injury, Turner has assumed a bigger role in the backfield over the last two games. In Saturday’s win over Vanderbilt, Turner posted 121 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and caught four passes for 24 yards.