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Saturday, August 26, 2017

A New Football Season Begins

I discovered this plaque as I was walking the south side of Birmingham the other day. This is the site of the first Auburn/Alabama football game that was played on February 22, 1893. There were 5,000 people in the stands that day and the "Orange and Blue" won 32-22. Of course, there was no social media on that day and the game has been described as "the greatest football game ever played in Birmingham".  I doubt if those people realized that this game would become one of the biggest rivalries in college football.

Enjoy the season and war eagle! 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Few Questions Remain on Offense

Kerryon Johnson & Kamryn Pettway  photo courtesy OANOW

As I write this, it's just 10 short days until gameday on the Plains. The excitement is building, and reasonably so. Auburn is ranked inside or near the Top 10 in most major preseason polls. 

The QB situation has been sewn up, leaving just the starting offensive line, and the 3rd string Running Back to list before the depth chart on offense is known.

The offensive line is listed among the most experienced lines in the country. Having that experience, and the talent level, leaves little to worry about. The coaches believe any of at least 8 guys have the ability, and have earned the right to start. That is truly great news.

The situation at RB is different this season. No doubt Auburn has a very good tandem in the backfield. Kerryon Johnson, and Kamryn Pettway have proven they can deliver in any game situation. 

Durability has been an issue, although it has been a focus in the offseason for both. Pettway stated in an interview that he has trimmed his body fat percentage from 11% to just 8% and believes he is faster. Good news to say the least.

Because of the issues in the past with durability, there has been a real focus on finding a third man in the backfield. The number 3 is popular in this search as there 3 individuals that Gus Malzahn stated were vying for this spot. Kam Martin, Malik Miller, and Devan Barrett.

Martin has plenty of game experience in a backup role last season.

In his most recent presser, Coach Malzahn talked about the guys in this competition. Give a listen, and thanks for stopping by.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Officially: Jarrett Stidham Named Starter at Auburn

Jarrett Stidham has been named the starting QB for the 2017 football season. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn tweeted the news today after meeting with the three QB's that battled for the starting job this spring.

Stidham arrived at Auburn via the JUCO route, after transferring from Baylor when embattled head coach Art Briles was released. 

Interestingly for Gus Malzahn, the normal tendency was to recruit a true dual-threat QB that could run all of the zone and power read plays in the offense. Only occasionally passing the ball when a defense had forced Auburn to throw. Think Cam Newton, or Nick Marshall.

Stidham is much more a pocket passer, that has the ability to run if need be. This subject has been debated many times. Can Gus Malzahn field a successful offense that has a much more proficient passer, than runner? Before you go all ballistic, I know Chip Lindsey is the Offensive Coordinator, and will have "complete control" of the offense. 

Malzahn has stated on several occasions that he "trusts Chip." 

Let us not forget Lindsey spent time in Auburn in 2013 as an offensive analyst to Coach Malzahn. It's not like Gus hired someone to come to Auburn and scrap "his" offense.

I have every reason to believe we will see an offense that closely resembles a mixture of the run heavy Auburn offense under Gus, and the pass happy Tulsa offense that was also led by Gus.

Now that Auburn has settled on its starter at QB, the team can focus on winning lots, if not all of their games.


Stidham To Lead Tigers in Opener

Jarrett Stidham works under the watchful eye of Gus Malzahn . Photo by: Unknown Source

The other day,I predicted that by Tuesday, Jarrett Stidham would be named the starter for the first game of the upcoming football season. Since that happened, and because of my less than stellar prognostication ability, I can assure you, the starter will not be named on Tuesday. I will say at some point, Gus will name Stidham his starter. 

The vibe coming from the players as they are asked about QB's is the same each time. Their responses feel, and sound, a lot like "This is what they told me to say." 

Sean White did an admirable job as Auburn's starter last season. I don't want to seem ungrateful for his efforts. 

I have carefully studied his film prior to getting injured.  During that 6 game winning streak, White performed very well. A couple of issues I noticed were his throwing mechanics slipping as the season progressed. Plus, he was having trouble moving his feet while running the offense at times.

The fact that the offense overall was astounding has not slipped my memory. Quite the opposite. I wanted to see just how good Sean was when he was healthy verses when he wasn't. 

Let us not forget about his coach this season. Chip Lindsey is heralded as a tough, smart coach with a proven record of coaching up quarterbacks . This being the case, we should see a remarkable improvement in White's footwork, and passing mechanics. 

This begs the question: How long will it take for White to change his bad habits into better performances? White was among the nation's best at one point last season.

["He has a 77 percent completion rate over the last three games, and his overall 69.7 percent rating and 9 yards-per-pass average leads the SEC and is the eighth best in the country." ] from Track 'Em Tigers by AubTigerman

Durability, and mechanics may be in question when it comes to White. what you can't underestimate any longer are his leadership, and willingness to do whatever it takes to win. Even if it means playing with a broken arm. These mean more to his team than any perceived flaws. 


Friday, August 11, 2017

Daniel Carlsons' Legacy

Not since Sebastian Janikowski at FSU has a kicker been so dominant in college football. This season, college football will witness the best kicker, maybe ever! 

I'm talking about Daniel Carlson of Auburn University. There is Single Season:

Carlson will break many if not all of the previous Auburn football records as a kicker. 

Plus, Carlson is tied with Auburn & NFL great Al Del Greco in single game FG's made with 6 each.

Auburn Tigers: 2017 Hype

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

At A Glance: Defensive Line

Defensive Line/Associate Head Coach Rodney Garner

I've seen enough game film to say this; Auburn Football will have a very good defensive line. 

Much has been made about the loss of notable talent. With good reason. Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams, Maurice Swain Jr., and Devaroe Lawrence, all left to pursue their NFL dreams. 

That's a lot of experience. 

Coach Garner has a reputation of "hard nosed" coaching. It's true. He can be really tough on these guys. Coach Garner also has a habit of rotating many guys along the defensive line during games.  

When we add the recruiting that this staff has managed to accomplish, we begin to see there is plenty of game experience and talent in this group. No less than 13 names are on the official roster along the defensive front. At least 7 of those men have previously played. 

Here is the group of fine young men who will carry on the tradition:
Marlon Davidson
Derrick Brown
Byron Cowart
Paul James III
Tashawn Manning
Jaunta'vius Johnson
Andrew Williams
Nick Coe
Alec Jackson
Tyler Carter
Tyrone Truesdale
Dontavius Russell
Gary Walker


Friday, August 4, 2017

"Faith" & Auburn Football

Traditions at Toomer's Corner

With the release of the Amway Coaches Poll this week, we find that Auburn is ranked inside the Top 15 at #13.

For some, expectations are through the roof. Others aren't sold on the Tigers. 
Earlier this week, Lauren Shute of SEC Country quoted Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated. Staples said: "The team we seem to be putting the most faith in, without evidence, is Auburn."

It's easy to understand the "faith" part of that statement when we read an article by Andrew Lopez of The Times Picayune &

"Probably the biggest thing that's standing out to me about this team is that they're hungry," Malzahn said at SEC Media Days on Thursday. "They're hungry and they've got something to prove. And really the last time I felt this was 2013. So that's a good comfort for me."

Another reason for "Faith" is the QB situation at Auburn this season. With the transfer of QB Jarrett Stidham, comes an undeniable presence of talent at the QB position. 

Take a look at these highlights. A video created by the artist known simply as "Footballer."

First thing I noticed is the timing on the crossing routes. Where Stidham has to complete his pass to a receiver running across the field, rather than down the field along the sidelines.
Nearly all of the throws are on the money. Jarrett seems to have a quicker release than Sean White has shown thus far in his time at Auburn. 
The upside to the arrival of Stidham? Whether he wins the job or not, Auburn has quality experienced depth at this position for the first time since Gus Malzahn has been named head coach.

One thing is sure. Auburn football is just around the corner. It's going to be an exciting season. I have faith in that.