The FootballScoop Coaches of the Week Awards - Week 8
Head Coach of the Week - Gus Malzahn, Auburn
The job Gus Malzahn is doing on the Plains has turned into the standard for which first-year coaching turnarounds will be measured from this point forward. This is a team that won three games last season and looked awful doing it. Malzahn needed all of seven games to double last season's win total, and no game serves as a better metaphor for the 180 this program has spun than yesterday's.
On October 27, 2012, Auburn hosted Texas A&M and were so uncompetitive it was an insult to the Aggies. The Tigers were behind 28-0 before they got a first down and allowed seven touchdowns on eight defensive possessions en route to a 63-21 flattening. While the Aggies still passed the 600-yard barrier on offense, but defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson's strategy of rotating defensive linemen allowed the Auburn defense to stand up the one time it absolutely had to, sacking Johnny Manziel on the deciding 4th-and-13.
Offensively, the SEC's top rushing offense had its way with the SEC's worst rushing defense, toting the rock 60 times for 379 yards and four touchdowns, and Malzahn found the holes he needed (particularly on the wheel route) in the Texas A&M back seven to make the most of Nick Marshall's 11 completions for 236 yards and two scores.
But this is about the big picture, and it's a picture whose colors have completely changed from last season. A year after finishing dead last in the SEC West, Auburn find itself in second place the division and the only thing standing between Alabama and a fourth trip to Atlanta in six years.
Honorable Mention: Gary Pinkel, Missouri; Jimbo Fisher, Florida State; James Franklin, Vanderbilt; Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss; George O'Leary, Central Florida; Butch Jones, Tennessee; Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech.
Offensive Staff of the Week - Missouri
In his first collegiate start, Maty Mauk accomplished something Johnny Manziel, Aaron Murray, Connor Shaw and Zach Mettenberger could not - top 21 points on Florida defense. The Tigers blasted their way past the Gators' SEC-leading 14-game 21-or-under streak with a 36-17 triumph that moved them to 7-0 on the year. Gary Pinkel's staff coaxed 295 passing yards with a touchdown and a pick on 18-of-36 passing out of Mauk, while generating 205 rushing yards and two scores (one from Mauk) on the ground.
All against the nation's No. 2 total defense (235 yards per game) and No. 4 scoring defense (13 points per game).
Texas A&M wishes it had a backup quarterback that could step in as seamlessly as Missouri's, and the credit for that goes to the Missouri coaches.
Honorable Mention: Baylor, Northern Illinois, Michigan, Arizona State, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Oregon, Central Florida, Iowa.
Defensive Staff of the Week - Florida State
Jeremy Pruitt's defense made Chad Morris, Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and company feel like they were sitting on a recliner made of thumb tacks Saturday night in Florida State's 51-14 destruction of Clemson. If we can pretend the Tigers' 16-play, 71-yard garbage time scoring drive didn't happen, the Seminoles held Clemson to 245 yards and seven points on 70 plays, while scoring seven of their own. While Florida State's freshman quarterback played like a senior, the 'Noles made Clemson senior Tajh Boyd play like a freshman, completing 17-of-37 passes for 156 yards (4.2 yards per attempt) with a touchdown and two interceptions to go with 14 rushes for eight yards.
Florida State forced four turnovers, including a 37-yard fumble return by Mario Edwards, Jr., that made the score 17-0, held the Tigers to 5-of-15 on third down and, perhaps most indicative for what kind of a night it was, a goal line stand that kept the score at 48-7.
Honorable Mention: Stanford, Ole Miss, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Temple, Colorado State, Notre Dame, Louisiana-Lafayette.
Special Teams Unit of the Week - Tennessee
Trailing 21-17 heading into the fourth quarter, the Vols' defense shut down Steve Spurrier's offense, the Tennessee offense got the ball into the red zone, and Michael Palardy knocked in both of his chances - including a 19-yarder at a tough angle on the last play of the game - to give Tennessee a 23-21 triumph over No. 11 South Carolina. The win ended Tennessee's 19-game losing streak against ranked teams and gave Butch Jones his first major skin on the wall in Knoxville.
In addition to his kicking, Palardy had an excellent day punting the ball, booting eight kicks for a 40.4-yard average against only eight return yards, including a 64-yard bomb and six tries pinned inside the 20-yard line.
Honorable Mention: Ole Miss, LSU, Oklahoma State, BYU