As it happens every week, everyone looks to point the finger when their team loses, and divide praise when they win.
With Week 9 in the books, here’s an updated look at SEC coaches who deserve a a gold star or swift kick in the pants for how their units performed:
1. Gus Malzahn, Auburn head coach
Malzahn isn’t calling the plays, but he still runs the show for the Tigers. And in a 40-29 win over Ole Miss, he kept heads cool through 10 lead changes. The Auburn offense is clearly clicking and Saturday was the first game the defense allowed more than 16 points. If those two units remain effective and Malzahn keeps steering the ship with poise … look out, Alabama.
2. Kurt Roper, South Carolina quarterbacks coach
Roper deserves to be here another week after putting freshman Jake Bentley in a situation that allowed South Carolina to upset Tennessee. The Gamecocks ran the ball more than twice as much as they asked Bentley to put it in the air. And when called upon, Bentley delivered — going 15 of 20 for 167 yards and two touchdowns.
3. John Schlarman, Kentucky offensive line
The Wildcats ran it down Missouri’s throat in a 35-21 win with 377 yards and three touchdowns on 59 carries. Kentucky’s front manhandled the Tigers at the point of attack and also protected Stephen Johnson, allowing just one sack. Schlarman’s work with the offensive line has been integral in Kentucky’s turnaround this season.
4. Jeff Banks, Texas A&M special teams coordinator
It’s no surprise Texas A&M hung 52 points on New Mexico State, but it wasn’t expected that 22 of those points came from special teams. Christian Kirk was the highlight of the day with two long put returns for touchdowns. The team even averaged 38.5 yards on two kickoff returns. Credit goes to Banks for having his units prepared to give playmakers space.
1. Barry Odom, Missouri head coach
It’s falling apart for Odom in Columbia. The Tigers lost their homecoming game to Middle Tennessee State and followed it with Saturday’s loss to Kentucky. The passing game with Drew Lock stumbled against the Wildcats and the offensive line couldn’t great any push for the ground game. A bowl game is pretty much out of the question. Focus for Tigers fan should be shifted to next season.
2. Bob Shoop, Tennessee defensive coordinator
The talent level for the Volunteers alone should have been enough to handle South Carolina, but the defense allowed the Gamecocks to control the game. South Carolina won time of possession by nearly 12 minutes and didn’t turn over the ball. Entering the game it seemed unfathomable South Carolina would outgain Tennessee with a freshman quarterback facing his first SEC defense.
3. Terrell Buckley, Mississippi State secondary coach
Nick Fitzgerald led Mississippi State to a 56-41 win over Samford as his team needed just about every bit of it. The Mississippi State defensive backfield was torched by FCS quarterback Devlin Hodges for 468 yards and four touchdowns. Hodges also threw three interceptions, but one could argue it should have been more considering he threw 69 passes. Buckley has some work to do if this team wants a chance against Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss to close the season.
4. Doug Nussmeier, Florida offensive coordinator
Regardless of the 24-10 win over Georgia, the Gators offense looked rough as they totaled just 231 yards. Luckily for Florida, Georgia’s offense was even worse with 164 yards. The defense can carry the Gators through most of it’s schedule, but with games remaining against LSU, Florida State and a possible SEC Championship Game, the offense needs to do better.