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2022 College Football Awards: SEC Performers of the Year

Who were the best in the league?

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Alabama Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing our ballots for the 2022 College Football Awards. If you missed one:

SEC Offensive Player of the Year

Herndon Hooker, QB Tennessee

It’s hard to argue with the impact that was had by the super-super Senior portal import out of Virginia Tech — and his production in Knoxville, once given an offense to flourish in, is all the more damning indictment of Justin Fuente’s time with the Hokies.

We think of the Vols’ offense as one that slings it all over the yard, 45-50 times a game. It’s not. It doesn’t have to be and part of the reason is because Hooker has been so good. It is fast to be sure, but Hooker makes the best of his shots. He only has 29.9 attempts per game (14th) — Alabama throws the ball more.

Hooker leads the nation in yards per attempt among full-time starters (69.5%), interception rate, interceptions thrown (2). He is 6th in completion percentage (69.5%) and T-13th in TDs thrown despite missing two games (27). He is second in the country in QBR, despite having a far tougher schedule than CJ Stroud.

For the season he threw for 3125 yards with 27 TD, 2 Ints and went 3-1 vs. ranked teams before exiting the Sakerlina game. But he undoubtedly will be known as the triggerman for the first relevant Vols team in a decade, and the most successful one in almost 20 years. He added SEC OPotY for a reason.

Setting aside rivalry disdain, if you’re honest with yourself you know the fact that Stetson Bennett is in New York rather than Herndon Hooker is a damned travesty.

SEC Defensive Player of the Year

Will Anderson, EDGE Alabama

Compared to his literally-generational season in 2021, any output Will Anderson had in 2022 was going to almost certainly pale in comparison. He was our Heisman nominee last year for a reason.

True to that conventional wisdom, Will Anderson’s numbers did see a drop-off this season — and all he did was have the 5th highest sack total season of any Alabama defender in the Saban era. In fact in six of Saban’s top sack seasons, he has two of them: last year, and this one.

So, what did that season look like? Will had 1 blocked kick, 1 PD, 1 PBU, 1 INT, 1 TD (Int. Return 25 yards), 12 QB hurries, 17 QB hits, 17 TFL (72 yards), 10.0 sacks (54 yards), 51 tackles (27 solo). He recorded a sack and a TFL in eight of 12 games this season, and he recorded a negative play in every game except Austin Peay. God only knows how many bullshit offsides flags his speed drew, much less how many uncalled holdings were committed against Will.

He completely changed offenses, forcing teams to run away from him, into quick screens, and more 1- and 3-step drops than we’ve probably ever seen. Teams did not have the luxury of three seconds, and they knew it.

For all the grousing of Will “disappearing” he had 25% of Alabama’s sacks; 33% of the Tide’s QB hurries; 33% of the Tide’s QB hits; and 20% of Alabama’s TFL — if he’s invisible, he’s the most highly visible vanishing man ever.

He was our Chuck Bednarik ballot runner-up, and our Bronko Nagurski ballot nominee. Seems a lot of folks agreed: Last night, Will became just the third player in history to win national defensive player of the year back-to-back with a second Nagurski award. And today he was named the SEC DPotY.

Yeah that guy really sucked.

SEC Coach of the Year

Shane Beamer

Before the season began, I was somewhat bullish on South Carolina. I don’t recall who it was that I had this discussion with in the comments, but we thought people were quick to write off the Gamecocks. However, where we thought USC would field a stout defense and a balanced offense, that was not how the season played out. Instead, USC would have a rebuilding defense and an offense that was predicated on cobbling together opportunistic plays from Spencer Rattler.

Somehow, someway, a team with one of the league’s worst defenses and most erratic signal callers finished the year 8-4, impressively going 5-2 against teams that were or had been ranked in the season. Sure, there were some one-sided pastings (48-7 UGA comes to mind), and stout defenses could handcuff an already limited offense (23-10 Mizzou). But if you gave USC a chance, more often than not, they took advantage of every little misstep along the way. “Improbable” does not even begin to describe the one-sided molly-whompin’ USC put on Tennessee at home, or ending Clemson’s 40-game home winning streak and playoff hopes in back-to-back wins over Top 10 teams.

Tennessee was expected to be good, and they were good. South Carolina was expected to fight for the cellar in the East and maybe come to Birmingham. Instead, they’re heading to the Gator Bowl to spend New Year’s weekend against No. 19 Notre Dame.

Very few expected that, much less predicted it. And that’s why Shane Beamer is our 2022 SEC Coach of the Year.


Who’s your 2022 Coach of the Year

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Shane Beamer
    (153 votes)
  • 29%
    Josh Heupel
    (88 votes)
  • 8%
    Brian Kelly
    (27 votes)
  • 11%
    Other / Below
    (35 votes)
303 votes total Vote Now