The SEC has more than its share of quality quarterbacks, each with a superlatives. AJ McCarron is the winner. Aaron Murray is the career achiever. Johnny Manziel is the most dynamic.
After Saturday, it would be tough to argue against South Carolina’s Connor Shaw as the toughest.
Shaw sustained a knee injury in the loss to Tennessee, making him an emergency-only quarterback against Missouri. With backup Dylan Thompson struggling, South Carolina couldn’t afford to hold Shaw out any longer. Steve Spurrier turned to Shaw in the second half as the veteran quarterback led a 17-point comeback to beat Missouri 27-24 in overtime.
The effort earns Shaw Athlon Sports National Player of the Week honors.
“I went over and asked him if he could play and he said sure,” Spurrier said. “I said we had to make the move now. Dylan was just a little off here and there. I thought he had a few guys open and he zinged them out, but he threw some good balls. It just wasn't his night and Connor gave us a little sharpness in there.”
Shaw finished 20 of 29 for 201 yards with three touchdowns to keep South Carolina alive in the SEC East race.
Athlon Sports Week 9 Awards
National Offensive Player of the Week: Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Shaw, nursing a knee injury, came off the bench in the third quarter with his team trailing 17-0. About two hours later, the Gamecocks walked off the turf at Faurot Field with an improbable 27-24 win in double-overtime. Shaw was the man most responsible for Carolina’s season-saving win. The senior completed 20-of-29 passes for 201 yards with three touchdowns — despite not playing the entire first half. The Gamecocks tied the game when Shaw connected with Nick Jones on a 2-yard touchdown with 42 seconds remaining in regulation and sent the game into a second overtime when Shaw found Bruce Ellington for a TD on 4th-and-goal from the 15.
National Defensive Player of the Week: Trent Murphy Stanford
Murphy, much like the rest of the Cardinal defense, was all over the field against Oregon State. Murphy posted eight tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks against the nation's leading passer. He leads the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss after back-to-back stellar showings against UCLA and Oregon State. The Cardinal's defensive performance — holding the Beavers to a season-low 288 yards — on the road was a championship-style performance.
National Freshman of the Week: John O’Korn, Houston
Houston has been one of the biggest surprises this season that has gone virtually unnoticed. The Cougars eclipsed last season’s win total by picking up their sixth win of the season with a 49-14 victory over Rutgers. Making the start more unlikely has been the play of freshman quarterback John O’Korn, who stepped in to replace injured starting QB David Piland. O’Korn completed 24 of 30 passes for 364 yards with five touchdowns in the rout of Rutgers. O’Korn arrived to Houston from South Florida high school powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas.
National Coordinator of the Week: Jim Knowles, Duke
The Blue Devils’ defense had some help from a sluggish Virginia Tech offense, but for the second week in a row, Duke’s defense has stepped up when it mattered. The Blue Devils didn’t allow a point in the second half of last Saturday’s victory over Virginia and held the Hokies to just 55 yards in the fourth quarter, which was just enough for Duke to score a 13-10 win in Blacksburg. The Blue Devils forced four interceptions off Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas and generated four tackles for a loss. Duke has held its last three opponents to five yards or less per play, and only one team in the last three games against the Blue Devils has scored more than 10 points. Knowles has pushed the right buttons this season, and the key stops on defense are a key reason why Duke is 6-2.
Athlon Sports Week 9 Conference Awards
Offense: Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Defense: Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
Freshman: Jeremy Johnson, Auburn
Coordinator: Mark Snyder, Texas A&M
Offense: Duke Johnson, Miami
Defense: Kelby Brown, Duke
Freshman: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Coordinator: Jim Knowles, Duke
Offense: Desmond Roland, Oklahoma State
Defense: Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
Freshman: Shock Linwood, Baylor
Coordinator: Josh Heupel, Oklahoma
Offense: Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Defense: Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
Freshman: Tyvis Powell, Ohio State
Coordinator: Matt Limegrover, Minnesota
Offense: Tyler Gaffney, Stanford
Defense: Trent Murphy, Stanford
Freshman: Scooby Wright, Arizona
Coordinator: Derek Mason, Stanford