SEC Football: Game Balls, Top Performers from Week Nine
Hello there. Welcome to our weekly “Game Balls” column here at Southbound and Down. In this column, we will give you our picks for who the top performers on offense, defense, and special teams from SEC Football were this week. Though some overlap may occur, this is not a re-posting of the SEC’s Players of the Week.
In addition to the top performer, we will also give you two “Honorable Mentions” for each category. If you are reading the article and think that someone was snubbed, or even omitted entirely, then please let us know in the comment section.
Below their names, I will attempt to tell you a bit about the player’s performance this week. That way you can see why I felt they deserved a Game Ball. But again, if you think someone else performed better, let us know.
This week there were several big games happening across the conference, and thus there were many players who performed at a high level for their teams. This did make it tough to decide who should get the “Game Balls” this week. Nevertheless, we here at Southbound and Down have powered through and will give you what you came to see.
- 11/1 – SEC Football: Game Balls, Top Performers from Week Nine
- 10/31 – SEC Football: Three Things We Watched for in Week Nine
- 10/30 – SEC Football: Impressions from Around the Conference, Week Nine
- 10/29 – SEC Football: Week Nine TV Viewing Guide
- 10/28 – SEC Football: Three Things to Watch for in Week Nine
Some players on losing teams perhaps deserve to be on this list. However, if a player can’t lead his team to a win, then that is a pretty big knock against them. For a player on a losing team to make our list he must perform virtually flawlessly.
Well, without further ado, let’s just dive on in. We will start with the offensive “Top Performer” and the two offensive “Honorable Mentions.” Click on the handy link below to see who gets the offensive “Game Ball” this week.
Offense: Benny Snell Jr., RB, Kentucky
I have praised Stanley Williams in this column before. And I stand by that praise, for the man called Boom is a talented SEC running back. What he isn’t, however, is a physical, battering-ram of a running back. But Kentucky has found one of those running backs.
Benny Snell Jr. is just a freshman, but the coaches already trust him to handle a full workload. Against Missouri on Saturday, Snell carried the ball 38 times for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Snell saw a great many of his snaps come via the Wildcat formation. He would charge into a stacked box and emerge five yards downfield. It truly was a great performance for the young man.
Kamryn Pettway, RB, Auburn
Speaking of battering rams, nobody in the SEC embodies that more than Kamryn Pettway. Pettway is big, but he’s also surprisingly quick. Against Ole Miss, Pettway carried the ball 30 times for 236 yards and a touchdown.
Prior to the season, after Jovon Robinson’s dismissal, I wrote an article where I suggested that Gus Malzahn feed the big man. And feed the big man he has. Pettway has rumbled for 933 yards and seven touchdowns on the season, despite splitting time with Kerryon Johnson. He is a special talent.
Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State
Nick Fitzgerald had a phenomenal game against Samford, racking up over 500 yards of total offense. He completed 20 of his 35 pass attempts for 417 yards and five touchdowns. Plus, he rushed for 119 yards and two more touchdowns on 19 carries.
It has not been a good year for Mississippi State. The loss of Dak Prescott, along with other key players, has proven difficult to overcome. However, Fitzgerald looked like a good quarterback on Saturday.
Defense: Jamarcus King, DB, South Carolina
Jamarcus King was a force in the Gamecock defense against Tennessee. His two interceptions were vital in helping South Carolina secure the upset. He also added five tackles and broke up two more passes.
South Carolina’s upset of the Volunteers was by far the biggest story in the SEC Football world last weekend. While Jake Bentley and the offense performed admirably, most of the credit should go to the stout Gamecock defense. They held a potent Tennessee offense to just 21 points and got the win for Will Muschamp. King was the single most important player on that defense on Saturday.
Tray Matthews, DB, Auburn
The Auburn defense got lit up by Chad Kelly on Saturday. That means that there were lots of wide receivers running loose all over the field. The man who was responsible for tracking them down was safety Tray Matthews.
Matthews led the team in tackles with 11, six of which were solo. Since transferring from Georgia, he has been a standout in the Auburn defensive backfield. He could go pro after this season, but may be better served by returning for his senior year.
Blake McClain, DB, Kentucky
Another individual who was responsible for cleaning up wide receivers running amok was Kentucky’s Blake McClain. McClain made eight tackles against Missouri, all of which were solo. McClain is small, at just 5’11” 200 pounds, but the senior is a sure tackler.
Special Teams: Daniel Carlson, K, Auburn
Another week, another honor for Daniel Carlson. I feel like he wins a Game Ball every week. The man is absolutely automatic. Against Ole Miss he made all four of his field goal attempts, including a long of 47, and all of his extra points, giving him a total of 16 points on the day.
Carlson is only a junior, but I genuinely feel that he should declare for the NFL Draft a year early. Someone will take him. He’s that good.
Johnny Townsend, P, Florida
Johnny Townsend is a great punter, and he showed it against Georgia. Townsend punted six times and averaged 48 yards per attempt. That’s a great number. Punters are largely undervalued by the fans. However, a great punter can be the difference in a game.
Take this game for example. Georgia’s offense was struggling to move the ball. Therefore, the farther they had to move the ball in order to score, the less likely they were to successfully do so. Townsend made sure that the Dawgs would have to drive a long way against his defense. Georgia could not do so, and the game was won.
Christian Kirk, WR/PR, Texas A&M
Having Christian Kirk returning punts against New Mexico State just isn’t fair. He returned both of his chances for touchdowns. One from 70 yards out, the other from 73. That’s about as good of a day as a punt returner can possibly have.
Thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed the article. If so, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Also, share your own top performers in the comments below. Finally, check in again next week to see who gets a “Game Ball” in Week Eight.