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SEC Weekly Award Winner Cooper Mays looks back on his play against Missouri

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A pair of Tennessee Volunteers in quarterback Hendon Hooker and center Cooper Mays earned SEC Player of the Week recognition Monday afternoon following a historic offensive showing on Senior Day against Missouri.

The Vols (9-1, 5-1 SEC) posted 724 yards of total offense, a new program record for a single game. Hooker accounted for 405 of those yards, as the redshirt-senior once again dazzled on the gridiron in front of a national TV audience.

Hooker, garnering his third SEC Offensive Player of the Week honor of the season and fourth of his career, finished his career on Rocky Top on a high note, competing 25-of-35 passes (71.4 percent) for 355 yards and three touchdowns. He didn’t just make it happen in the pocket, picking up 50 rushing yards and scampering into the end zone from 14 yards out for his fifth rushing touchdown of the season, as well.

Mays earned his first-career SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week distinction in the victory, heading up the offensive line for the record-breaking offensive showing. Making his 20th career start, the Knoxville product logged 75 snaps at center and did not allow a sack, a pressure or a quarterback hit against the No. 13 defense in the country, helping the Vols bulldoze their way for a season-high 264 rushing yards and 460 passing yards.

Mays wasn’t as enamored with his play as the SEC.

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“It’s really hard in football,” he said. “People that don’t play don’t really understand it as much, but you could have a great game for like 65 out of 70 plays or 67 out of 70 (plays). You could have three bad plays and it can ruin your whole perspective of the game. Me, getting that holding penalty, I felt like I played terrible the whole game based off of one or two bad blocks. That’s how real competitors will judge themselves.”

The Vol Report with Cooper Mays

The ledger of success continues to grow for Hooker as he became the first UT player with 350 or more pass yards, three or more passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in the same game since Tyler Bray did it against Cincinnati on Sept. 10, 2011. Hooker moved into fifth place at UT in career touchdown passes with 55, and he also rushed for a touchdown and passed for a score in the same game for the ninth time during his time at Tennessee. The Greensboro, North Carolina, native fired touchdown passes of 19-yards, 68-yards and 2-yards, while adding a 14-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Hooker moved into second place in the FBS in QB passer rating at 181.81 and completion percentage with a 71.1 percent clip. He also leads the country in yards per attempt and yards per completion while ranking atop the SEC in total offense per game (329.3).

Mays is the fourth Vol to earn SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week this season, joining Javontez Spraggins, Jerome Carvin, and Darnell Wright. Cooper’s brother, Cade Mays, was a two-time Offensive Lineman of the Week a season ago and was on hand for the offensive spectacle after his Carolina Panthers defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 25-15, on Thursday night. In total, the offensive front has amassed five weekly awards in 11 weeks this season.

A fourth-career SEC weekly honor moves Hooker into a tie for third in career weekly conference honors earned by a Vol. This season, his three weeks on the list put him in a tie for second, just one behind the program record of four in a single season, set by current Philadelphia Eagle Derek Barnett in 2016.

Through the first 11 weeks of the 2022 season, the Vols have earned 13 SEC weekly honors—a program record and the most of any team in the conference this fall.

Hooker, Mays and the rest of the Volunteers take to the road for their final two games of the season. The Big Orange travel to Columbia, South Carolina for a primetime clash with South Carolina on Saturday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

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