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Monday, November 28, 2016

Bowl Prep Part 2: Running Back U

photo from Facebook

All day long we can talk about Auburn Running Backs. I can throw accolade after accolade, with out  being over stated, just how good they are. Auburn is after all Running Back University.

After the loss of Roc Thomas to transfer, and Jovon Robinson to dismissal, Auburn relied heavily on Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway.  Johnson was rated the #2 Athlete in the country. Pettway meanwhile was rated a consensus 3 star out of Prattville, Alabama. 

After Johnson sustained an injury early in the season Pettway became the bell cow at RB. He delivered an impressive 1123 yards on a 6.1 yards per carry average. 

On the season Pettway only lost a total of 14 yards on 185 attempts. All in just 9 games. A staggering set of statistics that would indicate just how effectively Auburn ran the football with Pettway. 

Johnson meanwhile, playing in 11 of the 12 games gained 881 yards on 173 carries for 5.0 yards per carry. 

Combined the two top RB's gained 2,004 yards.

 Throw in the other participants and Auburn's line looks like this:
12 games with 599 attempts and a total of 3,342 yards gained at 5.6 yards per carry. Scoring 32 Touchdowns on the season via the ground game averaging 278.5 rushing yards per game.

True Freshman Kam Martin had extensive game experience this season playing in 10 while gaining 340 yards with a 7.3 yard average per carry.

Gus Malzahn maintains that Auburn is a run first play action team. With the ratio being 599 rush attempts and only 262 called passing plays I'd say he intended to prove how much Auburn was a run first team.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Future of the Auburn Defense

Well, another "Iron Bowl" has been played and Auburn came out on the losing end for the 3rd straight year. I am just as disappointed with the outcome of this game as the rest of the Auburn fan base. Of course, I am in Birmingham these days caring for my mother so this loss stings a little more than usual since Tuscaloosa is about an hour down the road and I tend to see a lot of Crimson in this town. The record for this rivalry now stands at 46 wins for Alabama, 35 wins for Auburn and 1 tie. I think that most of us will agree that the Auburn defense played well enough to win this game; however, they were just worn down by being on the field too long due to the anemic offensive effort. It is difficult to win a football game if your opponent keeps the ball for over 40 minutes.

Auburn is now waiting to hear where they will go bowling and it could be raining "sugar". Auburn will know their destination after the SEC Championship game next weekend. Auburn could be playing Oklahoma and we will finally get that game that should have happened in 2004. 

I wanted to look at the future of the Auburn defense. Auburn is currently ranked number 21 in total defense in the NCAA. Auburn will be losing the following defensive players:

1) Montravius Adams, Carl Lawson, Maurice Swain and Lawrence Devaroe on the defensive line. 

2) Josh Holsey and Johnathan Ford will be leaving the defensive backfield. 

3) T. J. Neal will be the only linebacker that is leaving.

Auburn will return another solid defensive unit next season. I am going to assume that the junior players will remain at Auburn 1 more year.

1) The defensive line will have Marlon Davidson, Dontavious Russell, Derrick Brown, Andrew Williams, and Jeff Holland.

2) The linebackers will be Darrell Williams, Richard McBryde, Deshaun Davis, Tre Williams and Montavious Atkinson.

3) The returning defensive backfield will be Javaris Davis, Stephen Roberts, Tray Matthews, Carlton Davis, Nick Ruffin, Markell Boston, and Daniel Thomas.

The "hard" 2017 defensive commits for Auburn are: Tadarian Moultry (ILB), Kenney Britt (ILB), Carlitos Gonzalez (S) and Jordyn Peters (S). 

I will just have to hope for some offensive improvement next season to support this defensive unit. 


Bowl Prep & Analysis Part 1

Schmid Elementary honored at JHS

Randy Comer and I have decided to take sides. No, we are both pulling for Auburn. Always have. Always will. 

He will rate and relay his opinions of the Auburn defense, while I take the offense. Seems I have the tough task, at least from the discussions on social media the day after the Iron Bowl.

Some of the items I will go through include position play, statistical analysis, and overall scheme. 

Let me preface all of this discussion with this very clear point: I am not a qualified coach. My entire coaching career consist of one year of Pee Wee Football. The powers that be asked me not to come back. There you have it.

According to the experts, the biggest difference in the SEC and the rest of college football is along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. 

This is where we will start. 

Auburn started the season with Xavier Dampeer at the Center position. After a leg injury against Louisiana Monroe, a switch was made to allow Darius James to play Left Tackle.

Austin Golson returned to Center where he played during the 2015 season.

In several games this season the number 2 unit, as Coach Malzahn calls them, were able to gain significant playing time. Against teams like Arkansas, and Mississippi State. This is in fact, important. 

Even after a dismal performance in the Iron Bowl, Auburn finished the regular season 6th in the country in Rushing Offense. The Passing Offense finished 112th. Leaving me with at least a partial understanding about why the Tigers finished 49th in Scoring Offense. 

The Tigers also finished 35th in Sacks Allowed at 19 total. Compare that to Troy at #1 who only allowed 6 sacks all season. Not all of that falls on the offensive line. As we will discuss later.

Auburn ran the ball 599 times this season for a whopping 3,342 yards. Good enough for a 5.58 yards per carry. They converted 42.51% of their 3rd downs.  The Tigers offense was 71 for 167. On 4th down the percentage isn't as big. 38.89% while converting 7 of 18 attempts.

The offensive unit scored 387 points in 12 games, had 5,391 yards of offense with 861 plays. At one point in the season someone released a statistic stating 84% of Auburn's offensive production came via underclassmen. This is a very young Auburn offense.


Auburn Hobbles Away From Iron Bowl

staff photo from Vanderbilt game

It was brutal watching our Tigers in the latest Iron Bowl. Still, Auburn was in the game had they been able to figure out how to move the ball offensively.

Special teams play was great. The defense was stellar, at least in the first half. A big surprise was Daniel Thomas who played in relief of Rudy Ford.


What was missing from the party was the Auburn offense. The very offense that got them into position to possibly make the playoffs with only November in front of them.

Alas, it wasn't meant to be. Whether it was injuries or not, the coaches need to figure out where the team goes from here. 

Clearly our depth at some positions on offense is not what we had hoped for this far into the campaign. 

Figuring that out will be paramount for the coaching staff. I am glad it's not up to me.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Auburn Soccer Advances Again

This Auburn team has exceeded any of my reasonable expectations. Currently on a three game  winning streak, Auburn has qualified for the NCAA Quarterfinals. The Elite 8. It's the "first time ever" in Auburn Soccer history. 

The Tigers hosted South Alabama in the first round and dispatched a good Jaguar club 4 nil. Then in the second round at Gainesville, FL Auburn took down UConn 4-1. All that stood in the way of the Sweet 16 were the Florida Gators.

Auburn had defeated the Gators earlier in the season in another "first time ever"  in Gainesville. 

The Tigers will play The Southern Cal Trojans at 3:00 PM Central Time on Friday November 25th. You can watch the Live Stream here:

War Eagle!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

All Hands On Deck!

Auburn Marching Band entering JHS. staff photo

Auburn lost to Georgia in a way unlike any we have ever seen. It was an unusually ineffective Auburn offense that performed in Sanford Stadium last weekend. The likes of which are mind boggling.
Zero offensive first downs in the second half. 0 for 7 on 3rd down conversion attempts in the second half. It seems unfathomable yet the facts hit home like a hammer. 
Not much we can say that hasn't already been covered by the Auburn beat writers and the national media.
"We aren't going to make excuses" said Gus Malzahn after the loss. "We got our butts kicked out there." 
Really difficult to discern if UGA played well above their season tendencies, or Auburn played that poorly. Whatever the reason, Auburn must find a way to rebound. 

The upcoming game with Alabama A & M should allow the coaches to come up with some sort of game plan that might be effective against Alabama the next week. 
It's all hands on deck.  At one point in the season, we saw that nearly 80% of Auburn's offensive output was achieved by Redshirt Sophomores and younger. That being the case, we will have few experienced offensive players participating Saturday.

War Eagle!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Auburn Football: Every Day: Episode 9

This Is Auburn Basketball: 2016 Signing Day

If you haven't heard by now, Bruce Pearl and the Auburn basketball program went out and snagged a Top 5 basketball recruiting class. The early signing period went as well as anybody could have dreamed. 

Watch the video below, and get caught up in Coach Pearl's excitement.

War Eagle!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Best Auburn "Orange Jersey" Football Game

Here is a short video on the time that Auburn wore the orange jerseys to get you ready for the "South's Oldest Football Rivalry" on Saturday afternoon. I was fortunate to attend the 1978 Auburn/Georgia football game that ended in a 22-22 tie. Auburn was not expected to win and Georgia was headed to an SEC Championship. I was helping one of my professors work at one of the gates to the stadium and he told me to go watch the game.  The Georgia players were in a state of shock as the Auburn players entered the stadium in the orange jerseys.

Of course, there was no social media at the time and there were only a few channels on TV so it seemed that it was just me and the rest of the Auburn and Georgia fans that were able to witness this incredible football game in Jordan-Hare stadium that afternoon. All of the players on both teams were exhausted at the end of the game and the Auburn fans gave the Auburn players a standing ovation.  

War Eagle!

Auburn Volleyball Highlights vs Ole Miss

Monday, November 7, 2016

Auburn Soccer || NCAA Tournament Reaction

Breaking The Hex(s)

Gliding In. Staff photo
I was thrilled about the opportunity to watch this game in person. The last few games I attended were nail biters, or a loss. I had predicted a blowout. Whew! Was I wrong?! Again!

The good news:
 Auburn once again won on an early kickoff. Gus has found a way to have this team ready for the early games. What ever it is, I hope he keeps doing it. 

 Vanderbilt came into Jordan Hare Stadium riding a two game win streak over our Tigers. The Commodores left with the loss. AU 23 Vandy 16 was the final.

I was shocked as John Franklin III took the field to start the game for Auburn.  I realized that Sean White must have been bruised a bit from the Ole Miss game the week before. 

In the limited passing plays that were called, JF3 went 2 for 4 at just 9 yards total. Franklin threw a screen pass to Kamryn Pettway that would have been a 1st down. The play however was negated by a penalty against Vandy that Auburn accepted. Thus it goes down as "no play."

Another pass that would have resulted in a first down was dropped by an Auburn receiver. 

From my perspective, I thought the pass play calling was limited. The reasoning as to why, is known only to the coaching staff. Of course, I could be wrong. Your thoughts on this are welcome.

Sean White played the second half, and Vanderbilt had a hard time stopping the Auburn offense. The Commodores got some much needed help from the SEC officials. At one point, I yelled: "Maybe you should at least watch a football game, before you try to officiate one." 

Auburn won as Gus said, while "facing adversity." 
Video courtesy of Auburn Plainsman

Now all of the Tigers focus is on Georgia. This game has been tabbed by CBS as one of their two game lineup. " The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" will be the marquee game set at 2:30 Central Time. 

Impound the 'Dawgs! 


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Auburn/Vanderbilt 2016

I was hanging out at Pepper Place in Birmingham talking to other Auburn fans on Saturday morning listening to the Auburn Network when I heard the news about the starting QB change for Auburn. You could tell that Rod Bramblett, Stan White and Ronnie Brown were all surprised to hear the news just like the rest of the Auburn fan base. Of course, no one had heard any news of an injury to Sean White in the Ole Miss game so I just assumed that Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee were going to give John Franklin some playing time. Of course, Auburn does have a tendency to start slow at the 11:00 A.M. games so I was not surprised that the game was closer than the talking heads had predicted. Also, Vanderbilt has a good SEC style defense and their QB just happened to get a "hot hand" in this game.

Here are some of my observations from this game.

1) It was obvious that John Franklin was given a limited play book when he did start at QB on Saturday. He ran the ball 7 times for 59 yards and passed 4 times and completed 2 passes for 9 yards. The Auburn offense needed a boost in the second half so Sean White started and led Auburn to their 6th straight win this season. It is evident that the Auburn offense has been built around Sean White's abilities and he does know where the receivers are located on the field. If he was injured you could not tell by his play on the field. 

2) The referees are still not calling targeting consistently. Deshaun Davis was ejected early in the game for hitting a Vandy receiver. This ejection was a huge blow for Auburn's already thin linebacker unit. I have seen similar hits in other SEC games that could have been targeting, but were not called. Players just need to learn to pull up before making the hit. It does appear that targeting will continue to be a judgement call just like pass interference.

3) Kamryn Pettway rushed for 173 yards and has now entered the 1,000 yard rushing club at Auburn University. He did have a 60 yard run late in the 4th quarter that would have been a TD, but was stopped after having an apparent leg injury. Auburn was unable to score a TD and a 35 yard field goal attempt was blocked that would have put Auburn ahead by 10. 

4) Josh Holsey had another key interception with 36 seconds left in the game that ended Vandy's attempt to win from Auburn's 30 yard line.

5) Tre' Williams was injured and Deshaun Davis was ejected early for targeting which left Auburn thin at the linebacker position. Montavious Atkinson and T.J. Neal came in and played well. T.J. Neal, the graduate transfer from Illinois made a critical stop on a fourth and one on the Auburn 38 yard line in the first quarter and finished the game with 5 tackles and 4 assists. Darrell Williams led the defense with 9 tackles and 2 assists.

6) Darius Slayton is destined to be a great receiver at Auburn. He did catch a nice 21 yard TD pass from Sean White in the third quarter that put Auburn ahead 17-13.

Auburn's "Amen Corner"  for this season continues with a game with Georgia in Athens. Auburn has lost the last 4 games in Athens so it is time for Auburn to put a complete game together and win to even this series. It is called the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" and Georgia leads the series 56-55-8. These teams first met on February 20, 1892 and was played in Piedmont Park in Atlanta. It was at this game that the team cheer "War Eagle" allegedly started. I did witness one of the best football games between these two teams in 1978 when Auburn tied Georgia 22-22 and prevented them from winning the SEC title. Auburn wore orange jerseys in this game.

War Eagle!