I guess you can’t complain too much. Tennessee football had two players recognized in the SEC’s Weekly Awards Monday after their 34-27 overtime win at the Pittsburgh Panthers, and they were two outright winners as well. No other school had that.
Hendon Hooker was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for 325 yards, two touchdowns and rushing for another 27 yards while committing no turnovers. Byron Young was named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week with a sack, two tackles for a loss, three hurries and four tackles, three of which were solo.
The Arkansas Razorbacks and Kentucky Wildcats each had players win two weekly awards as well, but only one, Kentucky receiver Dane Key earning SEC Freshman of the Week, won it outright. Although that’s a testament to Tennessee football, they should have had more players on here.
In fact, the Vols should have had three other players share with other weekly awards winners, twice with themselves. Let’s start with Offensive Player of the Week. Yes, Hooker accounted for more of the yards, but he should have shared it with Cedric Tillman.
When you have nine catches for 162 yards and a touchdown, as Tillman did, it’s pretty clear that Tillman had as much to do with Hooker’s success as Hooker, so they both should be on the list. Giving it to Hooker just doesn’t seem right without Tillman also being honored.
That also holds true on Defensive Lineman of the Week. Yes, Young earned it. However, Tyler Baron should have been on there with him. Although Baron had the same number of tackles, sacks and tackles for a loss with two less quarterback hurries and one less solo tackle, his sack was a strip-sack.
Baron’s play resulted in a fumble at the end of the first half that Omari Thomas recovered, and it allowed the Vols to get three more points going into halftime. Young’s sack was critical too, but it didn’t have the difference in the game that Baron’s sack had. As a result, Baron should have been on there with him.
Speaking of that field goal to go into halftime, Chase McGrath should’ve been on there as SEC co-Special Teams Player of the Week. It’s fine to put Alabama Crimson Tide place kicker Will Reichard on there, as he didn’t miss an extra point and hit both attempts, one a 52-yarder and the other a game-winning field goal.
Reichard’s kick being a game-winner and him kicking off five times, three for touchbacks, when McGrath doesn’t handle kickoff duties, made the difference. However, McGrath did hit a 51-yarder, which is basically as impressive as a 52-yarder when you break it down.
Also, while Reichard hit a game-winner, that field goal was from 33 yards. McGrath’s other field goal was from 37 yards, and he also didn’t miss a field goal or an extra point. He hit four extra points too, so he finished with 10 points, not just eight.
More points and a higher distance average when both players made the same number of kicks and there was only one yard separating their longest field goal is a strong case fo McGrath. None of these omissions are egregious, and Tennessee football definitely played sloppy at Pitt, but all five of these guys deserved recognition.