Through eight weeks of the season we’re starting to get a good idea of what we have with the SEC.
There are coaches thriving and building impressive resumes, while others are making fan bases wonder how their assistant got beyond the graduate assistant level.
Here’s a look at the top trending coaches from Week 8 of SEC play:
1. Jeremy Pruitt, Alabama defensive coordinator
How about some love for Pruitt here? We laud Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin to no end, but the Alabama defense is seventh in the nation, allowing 14.9 points per game in Pruitt’s first season as DC. In their 33-14 win over Texas A&M, the Tide held the Aggies to 278 total yards and only gave up touchdowns at the very end of the first half and very beginning of the second half. Pruitt quickly adjusted and held Texas A&M scoreless the remaining 28 minutes of the game.
2. Tim Horton, Auburn running backs coach
Kamryn Pettway wasn’t supposed to be Auburn’s feature back this season, but when Kerryon Johnson went down with injury, Horton had the bruising sophomore ready to go. In Auburn’s 56-3 beating of Arkansas, Pettway carried the ball 27 times for 192 of the Tigers 543 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. In his five games this season, Pettway is averaging 23.6 carries and 139.4 yards per game. Credit Horton for coaching up a guy hardly mentioned before the season started.
3. Jeff Grimes, LSU offensive line coach
Leonard Fournette had a school-record 284 rushing yards on just 16 carries in a 38-21 win over Ole Miss. And while Fournette deserves plenty of the credit for being an absolute freak of nature, the offensive line allowed him to break free on each of his touchdown runs of 59, 76 and 78 yards. The line also kept quarterback Danny Etling upright.
4. Mark Stoops, Kentucky head coach
Believe it or not, Stoops could be in the discussion for SEC Coach of the Year if the Wildcats keep winning. After an 0-2 start, Kentucky has rattled of four wins in its last five games. Stoops deserves a world of credit for keeping his team focused after an opening loss to Southern Mississippi, followed by a 45-7 beating by Florida. Two more wins and Stoops will be bowl eligible for the first time in Lexington.
1. Robb Smith, Arkansas defensive coordinator
It really only took one play to land Smith on this list. Auburn’s Eli Stove took the opening play of the game 78 yards for a touchdown and the Tigers never looked back. The Razorbacks allowed 632 yards of total offense after being demoralized from the start. Smith simply couldn’t adjust, and that’s not a good look for an SEC assistant.
2. Jason Jones, Ole Miss cornerbacks coach
Usually secondaries get torched by opposing quarterbacks, but the Rebels were embarrassed by LSU’s Fournette in a 38-21 loss. Once Fournette broke through the Ole Miss front, he routinely ran by and through the last line of defense for long touchdowns. You can bet Ole Miss is doing double time on tackling drills this week.
3. Jackie Shipp, Missouri defensive line coach
The Tigers likely prepared for Middle Tennessee the passing attack, but it was the Blue Raiders ground attack that beat Missouri 51-45. Middle Tennessee ran the ball 40 times for 311 yards and allowed just 1 sack. When a defensive line can’t create pressure on the quarterback and allows nearly 8 yards per carry, the offense can put up 45 points and it doesn’t even matter. Shipp needs to right the defensive vessel this week to help salvage Missouri’s season.
4. Peter Sirmon, Mississippi State defensive coordinator
The Bulldogs have lost three in a row, and Sirmon’s defense isn’t helping matters. The offense had its second highest points output of the season Saturday, but the defense faltered in a 40-38 loss to Kentucky. The Wildcats we’re able to control the clock and convert six third downs as they piled up 554 yards of total offense. During the losing streak, Mississippi State is allowing more than 35 points per game.
SEC Coach of the Year favorite
Nick Saban, Alabama
Sabin started the year in the pole position and has only widened his lead. A 33-14 win over Texas A&M put him miles ahead of his closest competitor, Kevin Sumlin. The only other head coach with serious momentum is LSU’s Ed Orgeron, who won’t claim this award with the word “interim” in his title.