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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2015 Auburn Swimming & Diving Intro Video

Rebuilding a Defense: Rising From the Ashes

Will Muschamp - photo courtesy of Auburn Athletics

In an earlier post we talked about the exposing of Auburn's defensive weaknesses that became public knowledge in the South Carolina game. From that game through the end of the season, Auburn's defense was torched for over 30 points in each game versus FBS competition. 35, 31, 41, 34, 55, and 34. 

This is the reason Auburn fired Ellis Johnson as Defensive Coordinator, and hired Will Muschamp to replace him.

During that time span I listed that Auburn was letting teams score massive amounts of points, Florida allowed 20, 10, 23, 24, 20. With two of these teams being like opponents, Georgia and South Carolina each scored 20, and 23 respectively. The two division champs of the SEC were the only teams to score more than 40 against the Gators, and nobody scored 50 or more all season on them.

This next chart shows how Florida fared as a scoring defense:
in August/September 3 9 3 9 0 0 72 24.0
in October 3 9 6 7 1 0 81 27.0
in November 5 10 4 8 0 0 80 16.0
in December/January 1 2 2 2 0 0 20 20.0

Compare that to Auburn's defensive numbers:
in August/September 4 8 3 8 0 0 65 16.3
in October 3 11 1 11 0 0 80 26.7
in November 5 22 5 19 1 0 168 33.6
in December/January 1 4 2 4 0 0 34 34.0

There is a remarkable difference in the two. Especially when you look at the November and Dec/Jan numbers.

Before we jump to conclusions, let us look at the recruiting side of the equation. In 2013 Auburn finished 8th nationally in the Rivals final rankings, while Florida finished 4th. The average star rating was separated by just .02 points. The Gators signed 29 that year, while Auburn signed just 23. Below is the finish for each school since 2011.

Year         Florida          Auburn      Diff
2011          12th              7th             .04 - AU
2012          3rd              10th            .08 - UF
2013          4th                8th             .02 - UF
2014          8th                9th             .05 - UF

Basically, recruiting shows us the talent at each school is the same. Maybe we could break it down more closely by defensive players, although my gut says it won't be much different that what we have shown.

The difference is coaching. Auburn's defense was torched by our better opponents

Now that Auburn has "one of the greatest defensive minds in all of football" and one of the best best minds offensively in all of college football, the combination will be lethal for our opponents in 2015. It's time to rise from the ashes.

War Eagle!

Monday, January 26, 2015

National Signing Day Primer

Shon Coleman signs with Auburn University. photographer unknown

It's that time of year again, where we wait in anticipation for the college decisions of 17-18 year old football prospects.

National Signing Day (NSD) is what every recruiting enthusiast waits for. It's Christmas morning all over again with the exception being it's based in hope, not faith.

I wasn't the first, nor will I be the last to say recruiting is the lifeblood of every college athletic program. Simply, this is the most important piece of the puzzle for any championship program.

I use every "FREE" advantage to gain some limited amount of knowledge about the recruiting happenings that surround Auburn football. Using the information from Auburn 247Sports, and Rivals, along with the work of and the Auburn beat writers I gain the majority of my information, and occasionally I'll gain something from a national source.

 To show you how some classes are full of potential, and short on fulfillment read this post by Joel A. Erickson about the 2012 signing class. There are zero guarantees in this business of recruiting. Many factors are involved in whether the majority of the players will become "stars" or even contributors to a successful football program. 

Here is a short rundown of the players already signed by Auburn. From Auburn Rivals:

Signed Letter of Intent
Southside, ALSouthside

4 stars
Apopka, FLApopka

4 stars
Palmetto Bay, FLWestminster Christian

4 stars
Kennesaw, GANorth Cobb

3 stars
Milledgeville, GAGeorgia Military College
5 stars
Marietta, GASprayberry

3 stars
Perkinston, MSGulf Coast C.C.
4 stars

Perkinston, MSGulf Coast C.C.

3 stars

I'll post some of the predicted commits that are thought to be definitely going to Auburn soon.


Auburn Gymnastics 360: Episode 1

Auburn Baseball: The Coaches

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rebuilding A Defense: The Fall

It's not a secret. Really, it's not. Auburn's defense was on a slide from the moment Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks took the field against our Tigers.

That Saturday in Auburn, when we seen the sign that a struggling South Carolina team had figured out the weakness in the Auburn defense, and exploited it to near perfection. Yes, Auburn won the game, but that day, our defensive weaknesses had been exposed for all the world to see.

The Gamecocks completed 30 of 53 pass attempts for nearly a 14 yard per completion rate and 5, count them, 5 touchdown passes. Lots of short passes, and dump screens, kept setting up the long pass for Dylan Thompson, the USC QB.

Next, we will look at the reasons for the defensive collapse and what Will Muschamp may do to change things for our Tigers. Until then....

War Eagle!

Women's Tennis: MTSU Recap

Friday, January 16, 2015

Recruiting and Expectations


This weekend Auburn will hoist the AU Family banner high, and unfold the Welcome mat in hopes of persuading today's High School superstars to continue their athletic endeavors on the Plains.

There is much ado about this weekend being crucial. With may be the highest rated visitor list in Auburn football history in attendance, the Tiger Coaching staff must make this weekend a memorable one for the recruits.

Wesley Sinor of has compiled a partial list that contains no less than 4 - 5 star athlete visitors HERE.

The expectations are, at least one visitor will commit to play football at Auburn this weekend. Who that will be is anyone's guess. 

Our Tigers are looking for help along the Defensive line, and at Defensive back positions.

If you see any of the visitors around town, be sure to welcome them to Auburn, and give them a big WAR EAGLE!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What Must Happen: Auburn Football

Jordan Hare Stadium: Temple of BOOM! - Van Allen Plexico

We have looked in depth at the defense, starting with the Defensive Backs, the Defensive Linemen, and the Linebackers. Breaking down what we think must happen for our Tigers to reach the level of play we had hoped to see in the 2014 season. 

Today we will look at the exciting possibilities ahead for this Auburn football program. We will take what offensive stats our Tigers had in 2014, couple them with the Florida Gators defensive numbers and try to paint a picture of our future. 

Two reasons we are looking at 2014 offensive numbers are that we passed more while trying become more balanced, and Duke Williams. 

Williams announcing he would return for next season sent a positive flow of emotion throughout the Auburn Family. His numbers are a big reason why. 

    G   Rec    Yds  TD  Lg Rec/G Avg/C Avg/G
  10    45    730   5  62   4.5  16.2  73.0

In 2014 the Florida Gator defense was an impressive unit. Their season ending national rankings bear this out.
Scoring Defense: 19th
Rushing Defense: 13th
Passing Defense: 42nd
Total Defense: 15th

In comparison Auburn's defense finished 66th in Total Defense. That difference would have changed the outcome of several games this past season. 

 Using the logic that the more times a defense stops an opponents drive, the more opportunities an offense has. Taking in consideration that Florida's defense was 16th nationally in stopping opponents 4th down conversion tries, whereas Auburn placed 92nd, we can safely assume many more opportunities for the Auburn offense.

Auburn's offense finished the 2014 season with these rankings.
Scoring Offense: 27th
Rushing Offense: 14th
Passing Offense: 67th
Total Offense: 17th

Each of these numbers, one would presume, would have finished ranked higher with a better defense.

The future is indeed bright at Auburn. Most of the underclassmen return, and experience at the skill positions give our Tigers a leg up on most teams. Include what many deem an improvement in the defensive coaching staff, and the limitations for the 2015 team seem endless.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Auburn Basketball Highlights vs. Missouri

What Must Happen: Linebacker

Former Auburn coach Pat Dye. photographer unknown

This position has been a point of contention, since the days that Josh Bynes, and Craig Stevens roamed Pat Dye Field inside Jordan Hare Stadium. 

It is this writers belief that there has not been a shortage of talent on the team at LB, just a lack of proper technique. The subject has been talked about by almost every facet of the Auburn faithful, from the knowledgeable football nerd to the casual observer. It's easy to blame the players, especially when the same mistakes crop up year over year. 

Consider this: Auburn has hired a total of 4 Defensive Coordinators since the hiring of Gene Chizik in 2009. Four different philosophies, four different emphasis patterns, and four different sets of terminologies. 

Auburn's two leading LB's for 2015 will have played for 3 of them. Kris Frost, and Cassanova McKinzy each contributed in their Freshmen seasons under Brian VanGorder. 

With the introduction of Ellis Johnson, our Linebackers were now cut to 2 most of the time on the field. This proved to be an inefficient style of play. 

So, now we usher in the Will Muschamp era. As of this writing Auburn has not named a coach at this position. 

With both Frost, and McKinzy returning for their Senior seasons, the expectations are that play in this unit will become much improved.

The returning players already on the roster are listed below with this seasons class designation. They are:

Cassanova McKinzy, JR
JaViere Mitchell, SO
Kris Frost, JR
Justin Garrett, JR
Tre' Williams, FR
Kenny Flowers, JR
Daniel Pond, JR
Anthony Swain, JR
Cameron Toney, RS FR
Deshaun Davis, FR
Josh Shockley, FR
Michael Clifton, SO

The most important thing that stands out to me is that Auburn will graduate six players from this position at the end of 2015. That is a very high amount considering there are only 12 listed at this position, and there will be a minimum of a 6 man rotation. 

Another important factor is with the hiring of Will Muschamp, everybody has a clean slate. They are all trying out for the three positions, and the respective rotations. While every position is equally important, this will be the most interesting defensive position to watch and see who emerges as the season nears.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

What Must Happen: Defensive Line

photo courtesy of the official Auburn Athletics website

For one to look ahead, they must understand their past. 

Auburn's Gus Malzahn surely must know this old axiom, if he is to continue his push for the Auburn football program to compete for championships. That is his stated goal, and what he told us that Auburn expects. To "compete for championships."

We have already looked at the DB's so now we will turn our attention to the Defensive Line.

Coached by Rodney Garner a former Auburn player, and a top recruiter, this unit lost one of it's starters preseason, and was hit by the injury bug throughout season. 

In 2013 Auburn's scoring defense was ranked 47th nationally, this past season it dropped dramatically the last 5 games to 63rd nationally. This happens when your opponents each score over 30 points in that 5 game stretch.

The Tigers defense went from 31st nationally to tied for 94th in sacks. Also, Auburn was ranked 23rd in tackles for loss in 2013 but fell to 42nd this season.

For the defensive line to turn things around, and perform at a higher level, two things must happen. 

One, A commitment must be made by the players to get stronger, and faster. That comes with dedication in the off season. 

Two, schematically changes must be made. The hiring of Will Muschamp as DC has insured that will happen.   

Multiple formations along the front, with a strong rotation of players to keep them fresh should give Auburn an advantage when facing the better offensive lines in our league.

Our returning linemen are listed below with this past season's class recognition.

Montravius Adams, JR
Gimel President, SO
Keymiya Harrell, JR
Carl Lawson, SO
Raashed Kennion, FR
Greg Hall, SO
Alec Brown, RS FR
Andrew Williams, FR
DaVonte Lambert, JR
Justin Thornton, FR
Devaroe Lawrence, SO
Dontavius Russell, FR
Aaron Garrison, RS FR
Elijah Daniel, SO
Brian Walsh, JR

An up field  push, and a consistent pass rush without the need for blitzing is the goal here. Yes, blitzing is required at times, although it shouldn't be the only way to get sacks and TFLs. 

As you can see, there is a great mix of youth and experience returning. My hope, and yours as well I'm sure, is that these young men have much better success in what will be the 3rd different scheme for this season's Junior class.

War Eagle!

Monday, January 5, 2015

What Must Happen: Defensive Back

photo courtesy of official Auburn Athletics site

For one to look ahead, they must understand their past. 

Auburn's Gus Malzahn surely must know this old axiom, if he is to continue his push for the Auburn football program to compete for championships. That is his stated goal, and what he told us that Auburn expects. To "compete for championships."

When Auburn won the BCS title in 2010 it did so with a great offense, and a mediocre defense between the 20 yard lines, but very good in the Red Zone.

Looking back over the past two seasons, we see a steady decline in our Red Zone performance, and a complete about face in our defensive statistics as a whole. Changes needed to be made, and made they were. Changes at the Defensive Coordinator position, and subsequently at the DB coaching positions have brought the total of Auburn coaches being replaced to three.

Since the days of Ted Roof, Auburn has been lacking in DB play, and it's this writers belief that it has nothing at all to do with talent. Auburn has consistently recruited inside the Top 10 of every recruiting service rankings. 

Think back to how many times our DB's went diving at the opponents feet with head down, and shoulder first, just to completely miss the ball carrier. In the crucial last drive in the BCS Championship game, that very scenario played out allowing a 49 yard gain, that set up FSU in scoring position.

Since you were in Pop Warner you never taught to tackle like that. So, I ask, did coaching teach them that technique? If not, the bigger question is, why didn't coaching break them from that style of tackling?

Former DC Ellis Johnson, and Head Coach Gus Malzahn repeatedly told us that they were teaching our guys proper techniques in practice. It never manifested itself on the field.

With Will Muschamp being named DC, and his hiring of Travaris Robinson, our DB's are about to go to school. These two coaches have a proven track record of creating very good DB play. It can't happen soon enough.

 Auburn will return 15 players at DB next year. They are listed with this season's class recognition.

Jonathan Jones, JR
Markell Boston, FR
Mack VanGorder, JR
Stephen Roberts, FR
Joshua Holsey, JR
Nick Ruffin, FR
Mackenro Alexander, SO
Khari Harding, SO
Johnathan Ford, SO
T.J. Davis, SO
Joe Turner, JR
Michael Sherwood, RS FR
Kamryn Melton, SO
Tray Mathews, SO
Kalvarez Bessent, FR

We want to wish each of these young men the very best, and let them know that you are going to be coached by the very best. Learn as much as you can, and trust what you learned on gameday.

War Eagle!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Auburn Basketball Highlights vs North Alabama 1/3/15

Auburn continued their current win streak as they put North Alabama away with a strong second half performance.

 War Eagle!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Outback and More

Auburn lost the Outback Bowl in the same fashion they have lost games during the second half of the season. Losses to Texas A &M, Georgia, Alabama, and now Wisconsin could all be described in one way. Here are the highlights of the game:

Even with three interceptions, and a very good day offensively, our men in Orange and Blue didn't have it in them to secure victory. Coach Malzahn would later say during his press conference, that his expectations would always be to "win the SEC."

Kris Frost still hasn't dcided whether he will return for his Senior season.

Coaching changes are already underway in Auburn as news broke that Coach Melvin Smith would not be retained by new Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp.

We will look more deeply into where Auburn needs to improve during the off-season, and what changes will be made at the coaching positions.

For now, our Seniors have only the season ending banquet to attend. The rest of the team will be preparing for the improvement that is almost certain to come in 2015.