A closer look at Amari Cooper's 2014 season, why it's the best by an SEC WR
By the time Amari Cooper’s junior season came around in 2014, everyone knew what he was capable of, but no one knew he would show that virtually every game.
He started the season with four straight 100-yard games and actually saved his best performance of that stretch for Florida, which got burned by Cooper’s 201 receiving yards and 3 TDs.
The 6-foot-1, 211-pound All-American put up at least 70 yards in eight of the last 10 games to cap the best season by a receiver in SEC history, and this piece will point at some incredible things to support that claim.
First, here’s a look at his numbers that year and how they stack up in the conference record book.
Amari Cooper in 2014, Single-Season SEC Ranks
Cooper was a cornerstone of the Capstone’s offense, recording at least eight catches in 12 of 14 games. His 124 receptions are 12 more than any other SEC pass-catcher and only the second 100-reception season the league has ever seen.
As for those 1,727 receiving yards, they’re only 13 fewer than LSU wideout Josh Reed’s conference mark in 2001. Cooper had 100 yards in exactly half of the Crimson Tide’s 14 games.
Meanwhile, the Fun ‘N Gun produced the only two players to notch more receiving touchdowns: Reidel Anthony in 1996 and Chris Doering in 1995.
However, let’s take a step back and dissect his production in receiving yards.
KEEPING IT 200
Cooper had not one, not two, but three 200-yard games. That’s completely unheard of. Consider this: there’s only one SEC player who’s had three 200-yard games over the course of an entire career.
Players With Three Career 200-Yard Receiving Games
|PLAYER||GAME 1||GAME 2||GAME 3||SEASON(S)|
|Amari Cooper, ALA||201 vs. Florida||224 vs. Tennessee||224 vs. Auburn||2014|
|Earl Bennett, VU||204 vs. South Carolina||220 vs. Kentucky||223 vs. Richmond||2005, 2006, 2007|
That’s amazing in itself, but we can look at this from another perspective.
There are six SEC teams that don’t even have a player with two career 200-yard games (Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and South Carolina).
Plus, those three performances alone give Cooper as many or more than four SEC teams have had — total — in their entire history (South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Ole Miss). Alabama only has two from players not named Amari Cooper.
It’s never easy for a receiver to win college football’s most prestigious award, but Cooper came as close as any since Michigan’s Desmond Howard took it home in 1991.
Cooper finished third in the Heisman voting behind Oregon QB Marcus Mariota and Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon, but being third is still a noteworthy accomplishment.
Only one other receiver has placed among the top three in the Heisman voting since 1992 — a span of a quarter-century — and that was Pittsburgh’s Larry Fitzgerald in 2003 (second to Oklahoma QB Jason White).
WRs to Finish Third or Better in Heisman Voting in Last 25 Seasons
|CATEGORY||2014 AMARI COOPER||2003 LARRY FITZGERALD|
Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook was fourth this past season, and USC’s Marqise Lee (2012) and Marshall’s Randy Moss (1997) were also fourth during that stretch.
BRINGING HIS A-GAME FOR THE BIG GAMES
Cooper’s fearlessness was evident early in his career. Even as a freshman in 2012, the bright lights of a national championship game against Notre Dame was not going to intimidate Cooper.
Firstly, the game in Miami was being played in his backyard. Secondly, anyone who had watched the poised and polished wideout throughout the season could’ve figured that out. He was a monster against Tennessee (162 receiving yards, 2 TDs), Texas A&M (136 yards, TD), Auburn (109 yards, 2 TDs) and Georgia (128 yards, TD).
Against the Irish, Cooper had 105 yards and TD grabs from 34 and 19 yards out during a 42-14 spanking in which everyone was rolling for the Tide.
After topping off his 2013 season with big games against Auburn (178 yards and a TD) and Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl (121 yards), Cooper took his big-game potential to a new level in his final season.
Cooper played against five teams that finished the season ranked in the AP Poll, and he led the SEC by a wide margin in those type of games with an amazing average of 10.2 receptions and 111.4 receiving yards, and he added 6 TDs.
The highlight of those handful of matchups was his 13 receptions for 224 yards and 3 TDs (from 75, 39 and 17 yards) against Auburn in the Kick-Six revenge game.
These contests don’t include efforts against Texas A&M (140 yards, 2 TDs) and LSU (83 yards, TD), two opponents that were both ranked at the time of the game but not in the final poll. Cooper also shredded rival Tennessee for 224 yards and 2 TDs in Knoxville.
Give us your take in the comments below and make your case for the best season by an SEC receiver.