- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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In a season where true freshmen have been regular contributors for SEC teams, last Saturday might have been the biggest weekend yet for the league’s newcomers.
Not only did true freshman quarterbacks Kyle Allen and Treon Harris lead their teams to key conference victories, but their fellow first-year players also made huge differences in all three phases of the game. Heck, the Georgia-Kentucky game alone could have filled out this week’s five most notable performers.
At any rate, here are five SEC true freshmen who stood out last Saturday and then 11 more who deserve recognition:
QB Kyle Allen, Texas A&M
What he did: Making his first SEC start, Allen led the Aggies to an upset win at Auburn by completing 19 of 29 passes for 277 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Allen tossed a touchdown pass on four of Texas A&M’s first five drives.
What it means: The freshman wasn’t great in his first start against Louisiana-Monroe, but he got off to a hot start against Auburn and helped the Aggies save face somewhat after a brutal October slump. It’s safe to say that Kenny Hill put his starting status in serious jeopardy by getting himself suspended and allowing Allen to get some valuable playing time.
OLB Lorenzo Carter, Georgia
What he did: Carter started for the first time against Kentucky, taking Leonard Floyd’s spot in the starting lineup, and had easily his best game as a Bulldog. He posted nine tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and four quarterback hurries in Georgia’s blowout win.
What it means: We’ll see whether Floyd gets back into the starting lineup at some point. He played very little against Kentucky after a disappointing performance the previous week against Florida. Regardless, Carter has already started to make an impact as a pass rusher. He’s second on the team with 3.5 sacks, third with 13 quarterback hurries and fifth with five TFLs.
RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
What he did: In his fourth game filling in for Todd Gurley as the Bulldogs’ starting tailback, Chubb posted his fourth game with at least 140 rushing yards – matching the longest such streak for any back in the nation this season. Chubb ran 13 times for 170 yards and scored on an 18-yard touchdown run against Kentucky.
What it means: Gurley will return this week against Auburn, and Sony Michel is also back from a four-game injury absence, so Chubb won’t have to carry the load alone. By this point, though, he has certainly proven himself as a capable runner, leading the Bulldogs with 895 rushing yards and scoring seven times on the ground.
KR/WR Isaiah McKenzie, Georgia
What he did: The shifty return man took a kickoff back 90 yards for Georgia’s first touchdown against Kentucky and brought back a punt 59 yards for a score in the third quarter. He finished with two kickoff returns for 116 yards. McKenzie also ran once for a 12-yard gain.
What it means: McKenzie continues to breathe life into Georgia’s formerly stagnant return game. The Bulldogs had gone two seasons without a punt return touchdown before McKenzie took one back for a score earlier this season against Troy. He’s averaging 15.1 yards per punt return with two touchdowns and 29.7 yards per kickoff return with one score.
RB/KR Stanley Williams, Kentucky
What he did: Not to be outdone by his opponents from Georgia, Williams also had a big game against his home-state team on Saturday. He ran 10 times for 100 yards and scored on a 56-yard burst in the second quarter. He also caught a pass for a 1-yard gain and returned five kickoffs for 135 yards with a long of 37.
What it means: Williams has established himself as one of the SEC’s top young all-purpose players. He’s averaging a team-best 110.6 all-purpose yards per game and is averaging 6.9 yards per carry while sharing carries in Kentucky’s four-man backfield rotation.
TE Jeb Blazevich, Georgia: Caught three passes for 29 yards and touchdowns of 10 and 8 yards against Kentucky.
S Duke Dawson, Florida: Tied for the team lead with six tackles and also recorded a tackle for loss and a pass breakup in a win against Vanderbilt.
WR Malachi Dupre, LSU: Made a one-handed, 14-yard touchdown catch in a loss to Alabama.
RB Leonard Fournette, LSU: Ran 21 times for 79 yards in a loss to Alabama.
WR Jamoral Graham, Mississippi State: Caught a 44-yard touchdown pass in a win against Tennessee-Martin.
QB Treon Harris, Florida: Completed 13 of 21 passes for 215 yards and ran 10 times for 49 yards and two touchdowns in a win against Vanderbilt.
RB Sony Michel, Georgia: Ran 16 times for 84 yards and scored on a 23-yard touchdown against Kentucky.
WR Speedy Noil, Texas A&M: Caught a pass for 16 yards, returned two punts for 2 yards and returned three kickoffs for 81 yards (with a long of 36) in a win against Auburn.
P J.K. Scott, Alabama: Punted nine times for 437 yards (48.6 per punt) with a long of 66 yards and placed two punts inside the 20 in a win against LSU.
CB Jalen Tabor, Florida: Recorded two tackles, broke up a pass and made a leaping, one-handed interception in a win against Vanderbilt.