SEC Studs and Duds: Week 9
There was plenty of shakeup in the SEC last week, as LSU knocked Ole Miss from the ranks of the unbeatens and Mississippi State and Auburn survived tough tests from Kentucky and South Carolina, respectively.
Who made our list of SEC studs and duds in Week 9? Let’s find out.
1. Jonathan Williams: Arkansas’ star tailback torched UAB to the tune of 153 yards and a touchdown on just 18 carries, resulting in an average of 8.5 yards per attempt. Yes, UAB was a non-conference foe with an overmatched defense, but that shouldn’t take away from Williams’ brilliance Saturday in Fayetteville. For comparison’s sake, Mississippi State tailback Josh Robsinson ran for 29 fewer yards in the Bulldogs’ game against UAB in September, and he did so with two more carries than Williams received last weekend. Robinson now leads the SEC in rushing, proving what Williams did Saturday against a common opponent is nothing short of amazing.
2. Patrick Towles: Kentucky’s first-year starting quarterback had the best game of his career in a near-upset of No. 1 Mississippi State Saturday, throwing for a career-high 390 yards in addition to rushing for a career-high 76 yards in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs. Towles threw the ball all over the field, and created big plays through the air with three completions of at least 55 yards. He also ran the ball to pick up first downs in a number of key situations against MSU, keeping drives alive in a high-scoring game. The Cats may have lost, but their quarterback showed he has a future in the SEC.
3. Ronald Martin: The LSU safety shined bright on Saturday night, recording five tackles, a forced fumble, a pass breakup and a huge interception in the Tigers’ 10-7 win against then-unbeaten Ole Miss in Death Valley. Martin’s fumble was recovered by the Ole Miss offense, but his interception on the Rebels’ last offensive snap sealed a Tigers’ victory. Many will remember the play for Wallace’s untimely throw, but had the throw fallen incomplete Ole Miss could still have kicked the game-tying field goal as time expired. Instead, Martin made an amazing play on the ball to add to his career night, cementing the Tigers’ biggest victory of the season thus far.
1. The South Carolina defense: Saturday night was a bad night for the South Carolina defense, which allowed Auburn to score touchdowns on six straight possessions while giving up 551 total yards and 395 yards rushing to the Tigers potent offense. The Gamecocks defense was so bad, it inspired South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier to leave his offense on the field for five fourth downs in addition to attempting a surprise onside kick in the middle of the game. When a coach goes to that great of lengths to keep the defense off the field, you know that defense must be some kind of awful. South Carolina’s was, as it truly could not stop Auburn for most of the night. The Gamecocks scored 35 points on a top 5 team on the road and still lost because of their defense. That’s a tough loss to swallow, especially for defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward.
2. Bo Wallace: Wallace didn’t get any help from his run game in facing a nasty LSU defense at night in Death Valley, but he didn’t help the Rebels cause either with his poor play under center last weekend. The senior completed just 14 of 33 passes (42 percent) for a mere 176 yards in the loss, and his interception at the end of the game cost Ole Miss its first loss of the season. The pick was Wallace’s first in SEC play, and his first in the second half of any game this season, but it came on a play in which he blatantly disobeyed coach Hugh Freeze and threw the ball downfield instead of taking an easy check down to Laquon Treadwell. His lack of accuracy and consistency hurt, but his loss of composure and lack of mental fortitude are what cost Ole Miss a shot at a perfect season.
3. Maty Mauk: Mauk did throw for two touchdowns in a 24-14 win over Vanderbilt, but Missouri’s inconsistent quarterback continued to struggle against the SEC’s worst team in 2014. Vanderbilt has ranked in the bottom half of the SEC in passing defense and total defense all season, yet the Commodores limited Mauk to just 11 of 23 passing for only 141 yards in the win. Mauk has now completed less than half of his passes for fewer than 150 yards in four straight games, and the Tigers were tested by Vandy on their home field in Columbia thanks in large part to Mauk’s lackluster showing. The sophomore’s struggles have been well-documented, and Saturday’s performance was just another woeful outing in a tough season for Mauk.