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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

QB Stew



I decided to give this idea time to stew. Like any stew, the best flavors don't come by instantly mixing every ingredient, and turning the stove eye on. Some things take time.

I use this to help you understand why it has taken so long to write about T.J. Finley and his transfer to Auburn. 

Understandably, there are many "what ifs"  and many more predictions about the situation. Most are guessing. They have zero ideas as to what's going on inside the athletic complex. I'm sure several have guessed correctly, still, it does not mean they "Know" anything. 

I'll go over what I do know. Then we can talk about the "what ifs."

Things I know.

It was VERY CLEAR Auburn did not have a lot of QB competition at the starting QB spot. It has been Bo's job since he stepped on campus. Talk about pressure!


Bo Nix certainly has the competitive fire to be great.

The gap between Bo Nix and Dematrius Davis is wide. It's not a talent gap, it's an SEC game experience gap. After all, Davis just arrived at Auburn. 

Here is a snippet from Davis' bio on the official websiteOutstanding dual-threat quarterback who led North Shore High to a 14-1 record and the state semifinals in 2020 … 3,553 yards passing with 38 TD and 875 yards rushing with 22 score

It's worth noting these numbers were achieved in the highest echelon of Texas high school football. Enough said.

I am not going to discuss the other QB's that are in the room because they have very little chance of seeing action this season. 

SEC game experience. This is the main reason Auburn went after T. J. Finley when he entered the transfer portal. Finley has tremendous upside and elite arm strength. Two more factors that made Finley a great target for the Auburn Tiger QB room.

The "What Ifs" 

These are my thoughts. They are not known quantities, but just my personal opinions and guesses. 

Nobody on the current coaching staff cares who starts for Auburn at QB. They want the best guy to prove it's his team.   

Bo may have the highest upside of any QB other than the two currently in the NFL. 

There is a caveat. None of the QB's recently recruited out of high school made significant improvement year to year. Including Bo. 

For some QB's it takes a couple of seasons. Their bodies are still growing. The strength and conditioning programs are unlike anything they have done previously. Then there is coaching. 

Finley was thrust into the starting role at LSU as a true freshman. Usually, this is not a recipe for success. It wasn't. It was not a failure either. Finley had some very impressive moments that should translate well to the new Auburn offense. 

Much like Bo Nix's first campaign.

If Auburn for some reason had to start Dematrius Davis, it would not be an ideal scenario. Over the years, very few true Freshman QB's have played at a championship level. 

However, Now Nix, Finley, and Davis have proven QB developers in their corner.  Hopefully, we see major improvement this upcoming season. 

The big plus to this comes from knowing the best teams have a QB ready to come off the bench and keep the championship drive alive. For example, Ohio State used three QB's one season they won the BCS Championship. 

Adding Finley was good common sense and a prudent move. If he wins the starting job, good on him. If not, he will be ready whenever Nix decides to take his game to the next level.

Either way, Auburn wins! 

War Eagle!

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Auburn & The 12 Team Playoff

photo by Tiger Pixel Pusher
@Tiger3P on Twitter


News has leaked recently that a 12 team playoff is the move within the CFB Playoff committee. Let me insert that this author has long clamored for more teams in the playoff for the national championship each season. 

Never in my wildest dream did I think the committee would be considering a 12 team playoff. One caveat leaked is these first-round games might be "on campus" games. 

That is a huge piece of information, and a tremendous incentive to have a good record which would mean an additional home game each season for any team that didn't make the Top 4 spots. 

Now to Auburn. It is far too early to know for certain if Coach Bryan Harsin will have Auburn in the playoff race any time soon. However, this author can dream, and dream big, so let's dive in.

Our first look will be at the upcoming season. 2021 will be the most difficult season for this staff and this team to climb the mountain and make the fall dance if you will. 

Punter at "X"
From Josh Dowdy @heartofauburn
available here: 
https://teespring.com/shop/punter-at-x?pid=2&cid=576


First, Coach Harsin and his Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo are creating their offensive playbook. Included in this will be the language used for play-calling. Other items may include route designation for each receiver position. What the former staff called the "X" position may not be what this staff decides to name it. In fact, the two coaches creating this offense may not even have called this position the same thing prior to coming to Auburn. 

Obviously, I gave away my main concern with this season by mentioning the offense first. It is, in my opinion, the biggest question mark on the entire team. The questions start with the head coach and trickle down throughout the entire offense. 

I am confident the defense will be at the very least serviceable, and most likely very good. 

So, back to the playoff picture. Nobody knows when this new 12 team playoff will begin. When it does, Auburn "should never have a season they are not in the playoff picture. Unless it starts this coming fall. Let me expound.

Once the schedule was announced, and the university announced Auburn football games will be played at full capacity attendance, I went back through our opponents to see what I thought was plausible record-wise for this team. 

My firm belief is 8 wins should be the pivot point for this team. The only way I wouldn't be disappointed with a 7 win season would be a rash of injuries or each loss was by one score (6 points) or less. That would mean there is hope for the future. 

8 wins would be a good signal that things are trending up. Unless the losses are complete blowouts. Double-digit losses to 4 teams would not be a good indicator of improvement. Basically, that would be treading water, and we are all tired of treading water at this point. 

9 wins. Now, 9 wins would mean we took down someone on our schedule that everybody else has written us off as losing to. Whether it's finally winning at Redstick, or knocking off UGA or Bama. 

3 losses, even with one of the toughest schedules in the country probably wouldn't get Auburn in a 12 team playoff. 

Then again...


WAR EAGLE!


***editors note Minutes after this article was published, news broke that this 12 team playoff would begin at the end of the 2023 football season. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The #EverythingSchool & Championships

 

photo courtesy of the AUfficial website 
taken by Michael Wade

The Auburn Women's golf team started their chase for a national championship yesterday at the par 72, 6,384-yard Grayhawk Golf Course in Scottsdale. ("yo, that's some hardcore hood." - Robin Williams in the movie RV)

"We were hoping to take advantage of the early morning tee time, but that was not to be," head coach Melissa Luellen said. "The rough is very penalizing on this course and we were in it far too often. Thankfully, we have many more holes to go to climb the leaderboard."

Team Standings
1. Texas – 289 (+1)
2. Oregon – 290 (+2)
3. Stanford – 291 (+3)
T4. Arizona – 292 (+4)
T4. Kent State – 292 (+4)
T4. Duke – 292 (+4)
T4. Wake Forest – 292 (+4)
T8. LSU – 296 (+8)
T8. Ole Miss – 296 (+8)
10. Oklahoma State – 297 (+9)
11. Florida State – 298 (+10)
12. Kentucky – 299 (+11)
13. Arizona State – 300 (+12)
14. Michigan State – 301 (+13)
T15. Virginia Tech – 302 (+14)
T15. UCLA – 302 (+14)
17. Michigan – 304 (+16)
18. AUBURN – 305 (+17)
19. Maryland – 306 (+18)
T20. Georgia – 307 (+19)
T20. USC – 307 (+19)
T22. Baylor – 308 (+20)
T22. Alabama – 308 (+20)
24. South Carolina – 312 (+24)

Graphic courtesy of the AUfficial website. 

Here's hoping for our Ladies to climb up that leaderboard.

War Eagle!

Friday, May 21, 2021

Auburn Dominates Missouri Baseball 15-6


photo by Bob Altemarie of High Seas Photography


 In a must-win situation. 

On the road in the toughest conference. 

Playing our best baseball of the season, the Auburn Tigers took their show on the road to Missouri and dominated the first game of the series. 

Building upon 6 shut-out innings and an 8-0 lead, Auburn exploded in the 8th inning adding 6 more runs. Winning the game 15-6.

"Nobody has seen the ball as good as Rankin Woley has the last three weeks, and Ryan Bliss is consistent as all get out. Kason Howell pokes his head out tonight and hits two home runs on breaking balls with two strikes," head coach Butch Thompson said.- From the AUfficial website.


.’s 15 runs Thursday are the most runs the Tigers have scored in an SEC series opener since they won 19-5 at Alabama on April 20, 2018. #WarEagle


Our Tigers must win the series and hope that Texas Aggies baseball doesn't win the series against LSU in order to advance to the final spot in the SEC Baseball tournament.

War Eagle!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Farewell & Thanks to Our Seniors


Right to Left
Jack Owen, Steven Williams, Peyton Glavine,
Cody Greenhill, Rankin Woley, Judd Ward
Coach Butch Thompson


Auburn finishes its 2021 home baseball season against North Alabama tonight May 18th at 6pm. It will be the final home game for the Seniors who were honored this weekend during a game with Texas A & M.

Aubie seeing you at Plainsman Park



Come out to the ballpark tonight. See Aubie and enjoy some good weather. 

War Eagle!

Brief Recap of the Final SEC Homestand.

 

Bryan Harsin throws out the ceremonial 1st pitch.
Picture by Bob Altemarie

A crucial homestand against the Texas Aggies went about as well as we could hope.

Auburn 21-25 & 7-19 in SEC play, won the first game in what can best be described as a dismal SEC campaign with its bullpen in the final 4 innings. A theme that has been sorely missing.

Ryan Bliss smiles after a home run
 game 2
photo by Bob Altemarie


Game 2 saw the Tigers jumped out to an early lead only to see it disappear. Auburn hit 6 home runs and only committed 2 errors but the Aggies clawed their way to the win by the score of 11-9.

The final SEC homestand was won on the 3rd day with Auburn scoring 3 runs in each of the first 2 innings. The Tigers then added another in the 4th and also in the 8th innings. Winning the game 8-5 and claiming the series.


War Eagle!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

From The Office of Dr. Jay Gouge

 

 


Dear ,

Tomorrow we will officially introduce Auburn’s new football coach, Bryan Harsin. It’s an exciting time for the Auburn family, one we can all get excited about. We have every reason to be confident about a future where our football team consistently competes at the highest levels and makes us proud on and off the field.

Let me begin by saying thank you to Coach Malzahn for some great “highs” in Auburn football. Coach Malzahn is a man of great character, his student-athletes performed well athletically and academically, and his teams always played by the rules. In every regard, he represented Auburn with class and distinction. Thank you, Gus and Kristi. You are forever members of the Auburn family.

When this process started, I asked Athletics Director Allen Greene to select a small group of Auburn men and women to advise and support him as we looked for a new football coach. We had a singular focus – to find a coach who will succeed in the toughest conference and who will represent Auburn well. Allen and the advisory group aimed high and hit high. They found the right man at the right time, and we welcome Coach Harsin.

We are fortunate to be members of an Auburn family passionate about our university. In the past couple of weeks, we received countless emails and notes with suggestions on selecting our next coach. Let me add that I read every one, and I appreciate your enthusiasm. Every Auburn voice is important.

It is also important to remember that not everything that is reported or posted on social media is accurate when it comes to coaching searches. In fact, some of it is disruptive, inaccurate and malicious. In our coaching search for example, no candidate was told that there were stipulations on who would serve on his coaching staff – not one. Only one trustee, who actually served on the search advisory group, had any part in the search process. Some candidates who reportedly “turned down” the Auburn job were never even offered the job. One candidate that made these statements never even had an interview, much less an offer.

Coach Harsin and I agree on many things and one thing is that much of what you see and read on social media are opinions or statements that are simply not based on fact. I regret that these comments hurt our university and many good Auburn people. Free speech is a treasured American right, but the Auburn family should also have the right to know the facts.

Tomorrow we start a new chapter for Auburn football. We wish to thank all of those who gave their input about our university and our football program, and we especially thank the Auburn family for their enthusiasm, loyalty and passion for our university. Let’s join together as we unite behind Coach Harsin and use this experience as a time of excitement and growth.

War Eagle!

Jay Gogue

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

An Open Letter

 December 22, 2020


To Whom It May Concern,

It is to my horror that I must write this letter to you. Knowing full well the words I have so carefully chosen will fall upon deaf ears. 

My beloved Auburn is in the middle of a crisis, and it pains me to watch knowing the answer is simple, yet very complicated to get to.

You see, we are looking for a football coach. A coach that has a very high IQ and great knowledge of the sport. He must own the mental fortitude to stare deep into the eyes of the enemy, and find the way to victory. Unfortunately, at this time, the enemy is us.

For reasons one could only speculate, the hiring process has become a national disaster. Bringing with it a light on the process that paints an eerie glow of impending doom. How could this happen? Why would anyone want this to happen? Again, I can only speculate. 

It seems we have a leak in our plumbing system, and we are telling the plumbers we interview which tool would work best to repair the leak. In that, we have turned away many qualified plumbers. Even fired the one we had on retainer. 

Or better yet.....

Our carpenter we want to hire has a great plan, including building materials, to carry out what we all want. 

Instead of agreeing to a price, and letting the carpenter work, we are dictating which building products to buy, where to buy the product, and who can work beside him to build the finished product we dream of.

I understand the concept of hiring contractors to do work. You might give the plumber or carpenter the keys to the house, but not the safe where the money is.

I am pleading with the football committee to hire a great contractor, and give him the keys to the house. Let the contractor decide which tools he'll use, and which products.

Then, and only then, will Grand 'Ole Auburn return to glory.

War Eagle!

Sincerely, 

Klell Lawrence

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Whoopin' Dogs & Takin' Names

Bo Nix
AP photo by Butch Dill
Beat down. Crushed. Destroyed.

I could go on, although I think you get the idea. The way this game unfolded was unlike anything any one of us expected. Auburn flat out handled Mississippi State in J.H.S. for a 56-23 victory Saturday night.



Every mistake the Bulldogs made in the first half was punished with an Auburn touchdown. The Tigers took their first five possessions and scored. 

Everything seemed to work to the home teams advantage. Except the a few suspect rulings on the field, and the dreaded fumble bug. 

Auburn turned the ball over 3 times. All fumbles. With an asterisk, one fumble really wasn't a fumble. It was dubiously ruled a fumble, and the replay booth did not get the call right. 

There are still many things for this team to improve on. 

I would love to see improvement in our pass defense. Some weakness has been exposed the last two games. I mentioned in a tweet during the game that Auburn still has to face some high quality QB's on the schedule. The best teams in particular, Florida, which Auburn plays next week, Georgia, LSU and Alabama are very efficient passing the ball.

While there are a ton of things I liked in this game, Auburn still has the toughest road to Atlanta in the conference. All still ahead of them. Which matches the Auburn Creed well.

Work. Hard work!

War Eagle!

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Tiger's Victorious at Kyle Field 2019 Edition


Auburn took a varied offensive game plan and a stingy defense on the road to victory against #17 ranked Texas A& M Saturday. The Aggie defense was slow to adjust as the Tigers jumped out to a 14-3 lead and never looked back winning by the score of 28-20.

The Tigers defense was very effective against the run. Especially in the first half, as indicated in the chart below.

Image
Chart courtesy of @AUGoldmine 

Auburn's defense didn't allow the Aggie access to the end zone until the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile the offense came out with some different play calling. A creative mix of passes, sweeps, and Run/Pass options were effective in opening hole in the Aggie defense. Auburn took full advantage of it.

One area the offense needs to get better is the deep pass. Nix had multiple opportunities to connect downfield, yet didn't. When that part of the offense gets in rhythm, this will become very difficult unit to defend.

A very good conference win coupled with a solid team performance is what was needed. Auburn did just that.

It's great for the fans to see our Tigers go on the road, and come out victorious. A tip of the hat goes out to Sal Cannella. His perimeter blocking was outstanding, and a huge key in this win.

War Eagle!