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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

My open letter to our Coach

Dear Coach Malzahn,

I feel I have to apologize for the over-reaction to the LSU loss. You were right it was not the end of the world and as I previously thought it may not even be the end of a National Championship run.

The coaches have an opportunity to lead these players to achieve what every true Auburn Fan believes we can. We believe that we have the talent to win every game when we take the field. We believe that our players put into the right position have the potential to win every engagement against the opposing team. We have seen them have the speed, the skill, the passion and the perseverance when led to get the job done.

What is amazing is that even though the playoff rankings came out today. For the Auburn University Tigers, the next game is the first playoff game. The most important game left on our schedule is always the next one.  If we lose, if we find ourselves being more arrogant than confident and let one slip away like we did in Baton Rouge, that dream comes to an end. Yes, you are right it may not be the end of the world. What it will be though is a memory that will always be haunted by a "what if" or "we could have" or "we should have" done something better or different. Don’t let that happen.

It is this program’s opportunity to show the rest of the country how special the Auburn Family is and what we stand for even when others are stating that we can’t do it, that we are not good enough, that we lack the skill. This team has a ton of talent, a ton of players that have a passion and drive to achieve greatness.

Adjust, lead, be unpredictable, leverage all your assets and never take your foot off their necks. The next quarter of football has to be won and then the one after that and after that…

Seize this opportunity, second chances do not come often but we have been given one here.

War Eagle!

Rushing Through Amen Corner

Auburn's RB tandem healthy for Amen Corner. Photo via
***Editors note: Kamryn Pettway has a broken scapula and is out indefinitely per Gus Malzahn.
"It's that one-two punch." said one guy. Another stated: "It's difficult to scheme against. Every week they put in new plays, and only one has been in enough games to get some kind of idea what play might be run." 

This is what a healthy Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson bring to the offense for Auburn as they prepare for "Amen Corner."

This is the second half of the Bye Week assessment of our Auburn Tigers. Here at ATB we have looked at the Special Teams, the Offense, and the Defense.

Now, let's have a look at our Running Backs and the ever changing Offensive Line. First, I'll post the rushing stats through 8 games:

Rushing                   Games      Attempts     Gain   Loss   Net   Avg     TD  Long    avg/g
Kerryon Johnson       6            137                752     29     723   5.3      14    60      120.5
Kamryn Pettway        5              76                313       8      305   4.0       6     38        61.0
Kam Martin                8              33                268       4      264    8.0      1     61        33.0
Eli Stove                      8              13                195       0      195  15.0      0     45        24.4
Malik Willis                4               12                170     14     156  13.0      1     67        39.0
Malik Miller               8               28                117       2      115  4.1        0     9          14.4
Jarrett Stidham         8               54                194    119      75   1.4        2     18          9.4
Devan Barrett            8              11                  63       2        61    5.5        0     13          7.6
Noah Igbinoghene    8               1                   11       0         11   11.0      0     11          1.4
Devin Adams             1                2                  6          0         6       3.0      0      5            6.0
Total                            8             372               2089   187     1902  5.1     24    67      237.8

Opponents                8              307               1213   218       995   3.2      5    70      124.4  

Secondly, I'd like to post the national rushing positions of our next 4 opponents. 

7th.   Alabama  377 attempts, 2,390 yards and an average of 6.34 per carry.
10th. Georgia    378 attempts  2,272 yards with a 6.01 yards per carry.
40th.  ULM        319  attempts  1,541 yards with an average of 4.83 yards per carry.
42nd. Texas A & M  347 attempts 1,528 yards with an average of 4.4 yards per carry.

In Comparison, Auburn stacks up nicely at 19th in the country. 

It's no secret Auburn is throwing the ball more this season. Mix that with what should be a potent rushing attack, and the table is set for an interesting finish to the season. 

With depth at Running Back, and Wide Receiver the best it's been since maybe 2004, the offensive line is where the biggest concern looms large.  

Austin Golson has proven he can play anywhere, although it would be great if he could settle in at one spot. Here's to hoping the Offensive Line remains healthy through the finish. Some reports of Darius James practicing this week are welcome news as well. 

Coach Lindsey utilized many formations including putting Tackles outside of Tight Ends on the line. I wonder what he may have dialed up in his Bye Week. One thing is sure, the next 4-5 games are an opportunity for our Tigers to show the world what they can accomplish.

The players are saying the right things. One example is: "You can't win 5 in a row, if you don't win the first one."  This tells me they won't let up on anyone again. The team is focused and determined. Now they must take that attitude to the field, and perform well. I believe they can, and will.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Not so serious! Happy Halloween Auburn Family!

For Halloween I decided to find some classic drawings of what some of us "COP"s grew up with and "Aubernize" them. Oh what is a "COP" term a "Cool old People" 🤣 Hope you enjoy them and if you have an idea for one leave a comment and I will see what i can come up with!

War Eagle and Happy Halloween! 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

How Special are the AU Special Team Units

photo by Julie Bennett & sports

Punt Returns –
In the past 8 Seasons, Auburn has only had 2 seasons where we returned a punt for a TD. In 2014 we returned 2 and 1 in 2013. With the lack of returns yardage and TD's it is easy to conclude that this has not been a strong part of Auburn's game for some time and maybe just not the coaching staff's focus.

Punt Coverage –
2017 marks our worst year for punt coverage – our punt coverage teams are yielding 13.4 yards per return on 8 returns so far, this year. The only other time we were above 10 was in 2015 when we yielded 12.43 on 19 returns. Our opponents have only returned 2 for TD's since 2010 – this year against LSU (1) and 1 in 2015. 

Kickoff Returns and Coverage –

From 2010 – 2013 Auburn returned 6 Kickoffs for a TD. Since then Auburn has not returned a Kickoff for a TD in the past 51 games. The good news is we are averaging 24.75 yards on the 12 Kickoffs this year we have returned. The bad news is… our opponents on 8 returns are averaging 29.88 yards per return with one TD. Auburn has only given up 3 Kickoff return TD’s in the past 100 games and the most Kickoff TD returns in any year was 1 so let’s hope that the Arkansas return is out of our system with the Arkansas TD.

Punts –
Again, there is some good news and some bad news. First, the good news, we are only averaging 3.5 punts per game. The bad news is the average is at 39.36 yards on 28 punts. The only other time we averaged below 40 yards in a season was the 2010 Season where we won the Natty. Now we can spin this but watching the games this year we do lack that field position changing punter. On the other side though due to our dominant defense the opponents have punted 55 times and averaged 41.55 per kick.

Kickoffs –
Legatron is the bright spot of this special teams units as would be expected. His whopping touch-back percentage is at 84.48% 58 total kickoffs, 49 touch-backs and …oh yeah one of those went out of bounds we can forgive him for that 😊 It should be noted though back in 2015 we did have 3 get kicked out of bounds. The next stat really puts into perspective just how good our defense really is. Our opposition have only kicked off to us 29 times with 16 touch-backs at a 55.17%. Legatron at this point is #1 in average yards per kickoff @ 64.78 and his 49 touch-backs are also the most in the country.

Place Kicking –
Finally, to finish off with the best part of the Special Teams Unit we continue with Daniel Carlson and the place kicking. 176 Extra points in a row! That is right Auburn has not missed an PAT in 47 games. This year so far Carlson is 15 of 19 for a modest 78.9% for Field Goal %. His past two years were 87.5% and 85.2% respectively and his Freshman year was 75%. An interesting fact though is Daniel is 6 of 10 inside Jordan-Hare and 9 of 9 away from Jordan-Hare. His 4 misses are 53 and 46 yards against GA Southern, 26-yard FG vs Mercer and a 51-yarder vs Mississippi State. Carlson is currently 10th in scoring with 80 points. He also became the All-Time SEC scoring leader this year and continues to pad his legacy which is at 434 points as of this article.

Hope you liked the stats - all in all we have work to do in the punting and the coverage and return units but we are solid with Daniel Carlson doing what he does....

Wouldn't these be nice for a Christmas Lamp this year?

War Eagle y'all and always interested in hearing your thoughts on the stats thoughts.

Auburn's Offense Ready For "Amen Corner."

Jarrett Stidham & Coach Lindsey reflecting after Auburn's victory over Georgia Southern.  photo by Julie Bennett
After the first game of the season against Georgia Southern we attempted to look objectively at the performance of Auburn's QB Jarrett Stidham. Fair or not, the hype that had proceeded Stidham's first game as an Auburn Tiger demanded a critical look

Now that Auburn is 8 games into the 2017 season, and resting on their bye week laurels, it's time we look again at Stidham, and the entire Auburn offense. So, here goes. 

In our first assessment two key points were made.

"At least three passes were dropped, one for an easy TD. Some of his passes were behind the receivers in route. That's a timing issue, that should get better as the season progresses."

"Still, there was a lot to like when looking at the overall passing performance. Stidham was mobile, and made some key throws while moving around inside the pocket, as well as when he rambled outside his protection."

With those points in mind, let's take a look statistically where Stidham has come in his progress. 

Jarrett has a completion percentage of *65.8% on 193 attempts & 127 completions. * touchdowns, 3 interceptions, with a 151.58 passer rating. 

Obviously, there has been improvement in his choices of where to throw the ball, and a higher percentage of passes being caught by his receivers. 

Speaking of those receivers, this group has made the biggest improvement from game one up until now, of any on the offensive side of the ball.
Downfield blocking is critical in any offense, and that is where I see the most development by this group.

Coach Lindsey stated in his presser this week: "Those guys as a group have played better. Much better actually." "I think the future is really bright for them."

Name                  Year                                Games     Receptions/Yards/Average                   TD                    Yds/Gm
Ryan DavisJRWR8413819.293
Will HastingsJRWR817357213
Darius SlaytonSOWR71130227.452
Kyle DavisSOWR57210300
Nate Craig-MyersSOWR8918420.441
Eli StoveSOWR81616810.50
Kerryon JohnsonJRRB68577.130
Kamryn PettwayJRRB533210.670
Sal CannellaSOTE733110.330
Noah IgbinogheneFRWR862440
Devan BarrettFRRB86223.671
Kam MartinSORB82157.50
Chandler CoxJRRB83113.670
Malik MillerFRRB81330
Griffin KingSOWR81000


While catching the ball is only a small part of a WR's life, the above chart really displays how much Coach Lindsey likes to spread the ball around, and how the WR's are taking advantage of their opportunities. 

In our next post we will look at the offensive line, and our dynamic running back duo that seems healthy at just the right time.


*Statistical source:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Auburn Defense Prepares for "Amen Corner"

photo by Julie Bennett of sports

It is no secret what the next chapter of Auburn's schedule means. Auburn is now 6-2 and is only two TDs from being undefeated this season.  Of course, I consider the game in College Station against Texas A and M a week from Saturday to be the beginning of Auburn's quest to navigate "Amen Corner" successfully. I really believe that the early kickoff will favor the Auburn Football team. 

Video courtesy of Justin Ferguson & SEC Country

Here are some of my views on the Auburn defensive unit going into the game with the Aggies:

Auburn is now 14th in the USA in total team defense. They are allowing 302.8 yards a game and 15.6 points a game which ranks 11th in the USA.

Auburn has 25 sacks for this season and Jeff Holland leads the team with 8 sacks. I expect Jeff Holland and Nick Coe to continue to perform well coming from the edge. Derrick Brown continues to harass opposing QBs and seemed to be in the backfield on every play in the Arkansas game. I would watch for Dontavius Russell at defensive tackle. I have noticed that he is often double teamed which allows an Auburn linebacker to make a play. I counted at least 27 tackles by the defensive line against Arkansas which is much higher than average in the SEC.

The linebacker unit is led by Deshaun Davis who has 19 solo tackles and 21 assists and Darrell Williams who has 17 solo tackles and 21 assists. Tre Williams has been injured, but was able to play a few series in the Arkansas game. This line backing unit is one of the best in the SEC when they are all on the field together. 

In the secondary, Javaris Davis and Tray Matthews were not able to play in the Arkansas game.  I hope that both players are back by the Texas A and M game. Their leadership will be needed in future games. Nick Ruffin, Daniel Thomas, and Jamel Dean have played well in their absence and have made some key tackles and provided good pass protection. 

 I commend Kevin Steele for building and directing this Auburn defensive unit. Here is the current Auburn defensive depth chart.

Jeff Holland , junior 
Paul James III , redshirt-junior 
T.D. Moultry, freshman

Dontavius Russell, redshirt-junior 
Byron Cowart, junior 
Tyrone Truesdell, freshman

Derrick Brown , sophomore 
Andrew Williams, redshirt-junior

Marlon Davidson , sophomore 
Nick Coe , redshirt-freshman 
Markaviest Bryant, freshman

Darrell Williams, junior 
Richard McBryde, redshirt-sophomore

Deshaun Davis , redshirt-junior 
K.J. Britt, freshman 
Chandler Wooten, freshman

Tre' Williams, senior 
Montavious Atkinson , junior

Daniel Thomas , sophomore 
Jeremiah Dinson, redshirt-sophomore 
Jordyn Peters, freshman

Javaris Davis, redshirt-sophomore 
Jamel Dean, redshirt-sophomore 
John Broussard Jr., redshirt-freshman

Tray Matthews, redshirt-senior 
Nick Ruffin, senior 
Jeremiah Dinson, redshirt-sophomore

Stephen Roberts, senior 
Daniel Thomas , sophomore 
Jason Smith, redshirt-senior

Carlton Davis, junior 
Traivon Leonard, freshman

Keep the faith and War Eagle!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A "Hog Roast" in Fayetteville

artwork provided by @AURobUSA

 I was  little apprehensive about this game with Arkansas in Fayetteville after what I saw in Baton Rouge and I was reminded throughout this week that Arkansas could beat an Auburn team who gave up a 20 point lead to LSU. Auburn was a 17 point favorite by kickoff and came away with a 52-20 decisive win. 

As a long time Auburn fan since my college days, I have learned to accept the good with the bad and this game gave me hope for the remainder of the season.

Here are the highlights of the game and with commentary from Rod and Stan from the Auburn Network. As usual, I turned down the volume of the SEC Network broadcast and streamed the Auburn Network while I watched this game.

1) Auburn finished the game with 629 total yards with 284 yards passing and 345 yards rushing. Auburn moved the ball well and the offensive play calling was much better and more balanced than the prior week. Jarrett Stidham was 19 for 28 with 218 yards and 49 yards rushing with 1 TD. I did feel that Jarrett Stidham was checking off at the line despite claims that he was not in the LSU game. It was pointed out by Stan White and a good friend that Arkansas was not providing help from the safety position on the pass coverage.

 Auburn was able to take advantage of the Arkansas defensive backfield by hitting Darius Slayton on a 62 yard pass in the third quarter on a pass from Ryan Davis. Darius Slayton finished the game with 4 catches for 146 yards and Ryan Davis had 8 catches for 63 yards. Of course, Ryan Davis is Auburn's third string QB and he does throw the ball well.

2) Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway were both able to play in this game and you could see the difference. Kamryn Pettway rushed for 90 yards on 11 carries which did include 3 TDs. He did seem to have that extra step in this game and appears to be on the road to a full recovery from the "plantar fasciitis". Kerryon Johnson rushed for 63 yards on 21 carries and had 1 TD. I still think that he made the first down in the early part of the game. The replay showed that his knee was never down.

3) The Auburn offensive line played well and Jarrett Stidham had time to make his throws and the line opened up some good holes for Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway. 

4) The Auburn defense had 6 sacks and forced 4 fumbles with 3 going to Auburn. The defensive line harassed the Arkansas QB all night long. Jeff Holland seemed to be in the Arkansas backfield on every play and forced two of the fumbles.

5) I continue to be impressed with the QB play of Malik Willis. He entered the game in the 4th quarter and ran the ball two times for 62 yards and threw a TD pass to Devan  Barrett for 4 yards. I see visions of Nick Marshall when he is on the field.

6) Auburn continued to put up points in the second half. They started the second half with a convincing 75 yard drive and went on to score 35 points to put this game away.

Auburn will now have a much needed week off to prepare for the game with the Texas Aggies in College Station. I expect Auburn to be focused and healthy. 

For once, I expect Auburn to be able to play both Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway in the backfield. I consider this game to be the beginning of "Amen Corner" this season. We should remember that Kellen Mond, the freshman QB at Texas A and M was once committed to Baylor. He was recruited by Auburn and the Aggies. 

Have a great week and War Eagle!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Me & Me Alone

The Sun came up over the horizon Sunday morning. Even though I wished it would take a little longer THIS Sunday. It came in it's appointed time. 

It's bright light brought focus to the dark, drab dawn that existed just moments before. The day was revealed in all the lights glorious shining. The day, as it always has, does not care for any one person, nor any one thing. It is simply, the day.

So it is with Auburn football in Baton Rouge. It does not care for any one person, nor, any one thing. It is simply, football. Or, is it?

This game. This time. It meant more to me than it ever should have. It meant "WE" could finally break the hex that Baton Rouge holds over our Tigers of Auburn. It meant we finally had the pieces to tear down all the old tendencies, all the old failures.

I had traveled through Baton Rouge just two days prior to our boys arrival. A good friend, also an Auburn fan, and an alum, traveled through there the next day. The hex, I told myself, it was done. Finished. Gone forever.

And for the first 20 minutes of the game, that awful hex appeared to be destroyed. Blown to a million pieces.  Then, to my utter horror, the hex healed itself. Resurrected, it came upon our boys with a vengeance. 

Suddenly passes were dropped, play calling went haywire, officiating went awry, allowing a killer 75 yard punt return for a TD, while the yellow flags never fell in any of the blocks in the back. It was simply, football in Baton Rouge.

Team TotalsAULSU
First Downs1714
Net Yards Rushing189157
Net Yards Passing165206
Total Offense Yards354363
Fumbles: Number-Lost0 - 01 - 1
Penalties: Number-Yards6 - 267 - 61
Punts - Yards6 - 2407 - 278
Possession Time30:3029:30
Third-Down Conversions3 of 14 (0.214)6 of 17 (0.353)
Fourth-Down Conversions0 of 2 (0.000)1 of 1 (1.000)
Sacks By: Number-Yards4-153-4
Field Goals3-3 (1.000)2-2 (1.000)

I have to resign myself to the fact the Sun does not rise for me, and me alone. Nor does Auburn play football for me and me alone. I just wish Auburn football knew how much beating LSU in Baton Rouge would have meant to me, and me alone.