Heupel, Anderson, Hooker headline AP’s SEC midseason awards

Oct 11, 2022, 11:48 PM | Updated: Oct 12, 2022, 1:20 pm
FILE - Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright (20) and teammates celebrates a 38-33 win after an NCAA...

FILE - Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright (20) and teammates celebrates a 38-33 win after an NCAA college football game against Florida, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)

(AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)

              FILE - Mississippi quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) throws a pass during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Vanderbilt on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. Mississippi won 52-28. Dart was selected the top first-year transfer in the Associated Press SEC Midseason Awards, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)
            
              FILE - Mississippi running back Quinshon Judkins (4) runs the ball past Troy safety Craig Slocum Jr. (4) during the first half an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. Judkins was selected top first-year freshman in the Associated Press SEC Midseason Awards, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
            
              FILE - Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin is shown during the Tigers' loss to LSU in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Auburn, Ala. Harsin was selected hottest seat in the Associated Press SEC Midseason Awards, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
            
              FILE - Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) kneels in the end zone seconds before kickoff before the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Young was selected the biggest injury in the Associated Press SEC Midseason Awards, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)
            
              FILE - Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher looks down between plays during an NCAA football game against Mississippi State, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Starkville, Miss. Texas A&M was selected most disappointing team in the Associated Press SEC Midseason Awards, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)
            
              FILE - Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel watches his team during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Florida, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. Heupel was selected the top coach in the Associated Press SEC Midseason Awards, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)
            
              FILE - Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker passes against Ball State during an NCAA football game on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. No. 17 Pittsburgh hosts No. 24 Tennessee on Saturday. Hooker was selected the top offensive player in the Associated Press SEC Midseason Awards, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)
            
              FILE - Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) waves to fans as he leaves the field after the team's win over Texas A&M in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Anderson was selected the top defensive player in the Associated Press SEC Midseason Awards, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)
            
              FILE - Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright (20) and teammates celebrates a 38-33 win after an NCAA college football game against Florida, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)

Will Anderson is one of the nation’s top pass rushers. Hendon Hooker has been among the hottest passers.

The Alabama linebacker and Tennessee quarterback headline the midseason Southeastern Conference awards released Wednesday by The Associated Press. Anderson is the top defensive player so far and Hooker grrabbed the offensive honors as the two players head into Saturday’s showdown between No. 3 Alabama and No. 6 Tennessee at Neyland Stadium.

The Volunteers’ Josh Heupel was a unanimous pick as coach of the first half of the season in voting by AP reporters who cover the SEC.

COACH OF THE FIRST HALF

Heupel has Tennessee ranked in the top 10 for the fourth straight week and at 5-0 for the first time since 2016. Led by Hooker and the nation’s top offense, Heupel already has four wins over Top 25 teams in his first season and a half. That’s the most for a Volunteers coach through his first 18 games since Phillip Fulmer also beat four Top 25 teams three decades ago.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER

Hooker has been the SEC’s most efficient QB, passing for 1,432 yards and 10 touchdowns without an interception through five games. He became the first SEC quarterback to post 300 passing yards and 100 rushing yards in a game since 2018 (vs. Florida). He’s eighth nationally and second in the SEC in total offense, averaging 332.6 yards a game.

Also receiving votes: Will Rogers, QB Mississippi State; Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER

Anderson led the nation in sacks and tackles for loss last season. He’s off to an even faster start this season, with 29 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and five sacks, plus a pick-6. Anderson had 11 tackles for loss and three sacks through six games last season, and didn’t have a sack at this point as a freshman. He pressured Texas A&M quarterback Haynes King eight times last week.

FIRST-YEAR FRESHMAN

Ole Miss RB Quinshon Judkins, who has emerged as probably the biggest star in a talented backfield despite not starting. He has run for 581 yards and eight touchdowns, more TDs than any other FBS freshman runner.

Also receiving votes: Malaki Starks, DB, Georgia; Nick Emmanwori, DB, South Carolina.

FIRST-YEAR TRANSFER

Jaxson Dart, QB, Mississippi. Dart started the season rotating with Luke Altmyer after transferring from USC. It’s unquestionably his job now, even before his 448-yard, three-touchdown explosion against Vanderbilt. Dart has passed for 1,358 yards and eight touchdowns while also being intercepted five times. He has run for 256 yards.

Also receiving votes: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama; Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU.

MOST SURPRISING TEAM

Tennessee has risen from just outside the preseason poll and into the top 10, with victories over Pittsburgh, LSU and Florida. The Volunteers showed signs last season of being on the verge of a breakout, even while going 7-6. Their biggest test so far awaits Saturday, though.

Also receiving votes: Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and LSU.

MOST SURPRISING PLAYER

Arkansas RB Raheim Sanders, who is the SEC’s leading rusher and top workhorse. He has run for 695 yards and five touchdowns on 125 carries. Sanders also has 185 receiving yards. He had a strong freshman season, too, but has already topped his 578 yards from 2021.

Also receiving votes: Hooker; Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida; Tayvion Robinson, WR, Kentucky.

MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM

Texas A&M is now unranked after opening the season at No. 6. The Aggies are 3-3 with losses to Appalachian State, Mississippi State and Alabama. The offense especially has been inconsistent and quarterback Max Johnson missed the Alabama game with an injury to his throwing hand.

Also receiving votes: Kentucky.

HOTTEST SEAT

Auburn coach Bryan Harsin has never climbed out of the late-season slump or shed the lingering cloud from the school investigation into his program that followed. Auburn has blown a 17-point lead to LSU and been routed by Georgia. The big question: Will he make it to the end of the season?

Also receiving votes: Clark Lea, Vanderbilt.

BIGGEST INJURY

Alabama QB Bryce Young. The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner has missed the last six-plus quarters with an injury to his throwing shoulder. The Tide offense clearly wasn’t the same without him, even though Jalen Milroe flashed a strong arm and running ability. He’s one of several QBs missing time lately with injuries.

Also receiving votes: KJ Jefferson, QB, Arkansas; Max Johnson, QB, Texas A&M; Will Levis, QB, Kentucky, and Jordan Strachan, DL, South Carolina.

___

AP Sports Writers Gary Graves, Pete Iacobelli, Mark Long, Brett Martel, Charles Odum, Dave Skretta and Teresa Walker contributed.

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://bit.ly/3pqZVaF

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill catches a pass during the first half of an NFL football ga...
Associated Press

Tyreek Hill, Dolphins success shows value of elite WRs

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Miami Dolphins running back Jeff Wilson Jr. mostly practices wide receiver drills during his offseasons, partly because running back drills are second nature to him, but also because he understands the importance of being a pass catcher in today’s NFL. “I remember one point in time, it was a running […]
2 days ago
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick walks off the field after the team's 24-10 loss to t...
Associated Press

Questions linger as Patriots’ offense falls short again

FOXBOROUGH, Mass, (AP) — Quarterback Mac Jones was adamant his expletive-laced tirade on the sideline during the Patriots 24-10 loss to Buffalo was about motivating himself and not an emotional plea about the play calling or anything directed at his coaches. Only he knows for certain. What does seem apparent is his vocal outburst had […]
2 days ago
Michigan defensive back Mike Sainristil, left, tackles Ohio State receiver Emeka Egbuka during the ...
Associated Press

CFP deja vu: TCU in third, Ohio State lurking and lobbying

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU has been in this position before, third in the College Football Playoff rankings going into its last game before the final four teams are set. And just like in 2014, there sits Ohio State in fifth, hoping for a chance to move up. Those rankings are the same, but […]
2 days ago
FILE - Portland Thorns FC celebrates with the trophy after the won the NWSL championship soccer mat...
Associated Press

Thorns coach resigns after players ask her to step down

Portland Thorns coach Rhian Wilkinson resigned Friday, just five weeks after she led the team to the National Women’s Soccer League championship. Wilkinson issued a statement that said players had asked for her resignation and she complied. Wilkinson said she was investigated and cleared of wrongdoing by the NWSL and its players union after she […]
2 days ago
Australia's players celebrate their 1-0 victory at the end of the World Cup group D soccer match be...
Associated Press

World Cup Viewer’s Guide: Americans face the Netherlands

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Christian Pulisic became an American star with the winning goal — and the injury he got while scoring it — that lifted the United States into the round of 16 at the World Cup. He injured his pelvic bone, Pulisic insisted, when he collided with Iran’s goalkeeper on the goal that […]
2 days ago
Brazil supporters put up a banner featuring Brazil team legends including Pele prior to the World C...
Associated Press

Brazil fans at World Cup show support for soccer great Pelé

LUSAIL, Qatar (AP) — Brazilian fans showed their support for soccer great Pelé ahead of the national team’s match against Cameroon at the World Cup on Friday. The 82-year-old Pelé, who had a colon tumor removed last year, was hospitalized Tuesday in Sao Paulo to regulate his medication. Doctors said Friday he had a respiratory […]
2 days ago
Heupel, Anderson, Hooker headline AP’s SEC midseason awards