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    #StatTiger: The Season In Review

    By Staff

    Post Season Numbers & Thoughts: During the first 7 games of the season the Auburn defense allowed 5.88 yards per play during the first-half and 4.21 yards per play during the second-half. During the final 6 games of the season, the Auburn defense allowed 5.97 yards per play during the first-half and 6.76 yards per play during the second-half.
    During the first 7 games of the season, 49.0% of the snaps defended by the Auburn defense during the first-half, went for 2-yards or less. It increased to 55.6% during the second half of games. During the last 6 games of the season, 43.7% of the snaps defended by the Auburn defense during the first-half, went for 2-yards or less. It decreased to 42.9% during the second half.
    The top-5 play-makers on offense this season based on impact-plays were: Cameron Artis Payne (26), Duke Williams (22), Nick Marshall (20), Sammie Coates (14) and Quan Bray (12). Injuries to Williams and Coates took away from Auburn's explosiveness this season.
    During the first 6 games of the season, Nick Marshall averaged 82.0 yards rushing per game on 6.6 yards per attempt. During the final 7 games of the season, Marshall averaged only 43.7 yards per rush on 3.9 yards per carry. The read-option was nowhere close to last season. During the final 7 games of the 2013 season, Marshall & Mason averaged 257.6 YPG on 6.09 YPC. During the final 7 games of 2014, Marshall & CAP combined for 179.3 YPG on 4.92 YPC.
    Ricardo Louis is a player to watch for in 2015. With the departure of Sammie Coates, Auburn will need him to become a consistent playmaker. During the first 6 games of the season, Louis had 15 offensive touches for 118-yards. During the final 7 games of the season, Louis had 22 offensive touches for 353-yards. Of his 9 impact plays on the season, 7 came during the second-half of the season.
    Duke Williams was No. 12 nationally in generating pass-receptions of 15-yards or more and Sammie Coates was No. 21. The Auburn offense simply wasn't the same without both healthy and on the field together.
    During Auburn's 8 victories this season, the Tigers compiled a pass-rating of 157.1 on first-down and only 117.2 during their 5 defeats. From 1992-2014 Auburn has compiled a pass-rating of 136.0 on first-down and was only 134.9 in 2014. Of Auburn's 332 passes on the season, only 96 (28.6%) came on first down, which was dead last nationally. The national average was 37.9%, which means Nick Marshall was forced to throw more often when the opponent wanted him to, rather than when Malzahn wanted him to throw. I expect that percentage to change drastically with Jeremy Johnson at quarterback.
    In terms of the game day report cards, the Auburn offense had a passing grade in 11 of 13 games, the defense 6 in 13 games and special teams, 7 of 13 games. Last season the offense had a passing grade in 12 of 14 games, the defense 7 of 14 games and special teams 13 of 14 games. Overall the offense improved to 74.9% from 74.6% in 2013. The defense dropped to 47.7% from 49.3% in 2013 and special teams took the biggest dive to 53.4% from 71.7% in 2013.
    During the last 3 games of the season Auburn allowed 3.93 yards per rush during the first-half and 7.58 yards per attempt during the second-half.
    How vital are impact plays? During Auburn's 73 scoring drives this season, 63 involved at least 1 play of 15-yards or more during the possession.
    Last season the Auburn defense registered 32 sacks and 13 interceptions. This season despite only 20 sacks, Auburn intercepted 22 passes. One can only imagine how many picks Auburn could have totaled in 2014 with a more consistent pass-rush.
    During the first 5 games of the season, the Auburn defense forced a "3 & out", 45 percent of the time. During the final 8 games of the season, it dropped to only 18 percent.
    During the first 5 games of the season, the Auburn defense allowed 24-yards per possession and a TD every 37.2 snaps. During the final 8 games of the season, the defense allowed 36-yards per possession and a TD every 16.6 snaps defended.
    During the first 7 games of the season, Auburn scored 75 points from their opponent's turnovers. During the final 6 games of the season, Auburn scored only 24 points off of turnovers.
    Rarely does a player find immediate success after making a position change at the collegiate level. Johnathan "Rudy" Ford moved to safety this season, finishing the year as Auburn's leading tackler with 93 stops. He also had 2.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions and 1 forced-fumble. Look for him to continue to grow into his position under Will Muschamp.
    Rudy Ford was No. 14 in the SEC with 7.15 tackles per game. Cassanova McKinzy was No. 16 and Kris Frost was No. 17. McKinzy was also No. 14 in the SEC with 11 tackles for loss. Fifteen SEC defensive linemen had more tackles for loss than Auburn's leader, Montravius Adams (8).
    Cameron Artis-Payne had some major shoes to fill, replacing Tre Mason. The senior RB, responded with an All-SEC season, leading the conference in rushing and No. 2 in rushing TD's. CAP's 123.7 yards per game was the 5th best average in school history. Cameron Artis-Payne was No. 15 nationally in yards per game.
    Quarterback Nick Marshall improved his passer-rating from 143.2 in 2013 to 150.8. His 150.8 rating is the 4th highest rated performance among the 37 Auburn quarterbacks to attempt at least 150 passes during a season. His TD ratio of 1 every 14.6 attempts was 5th best in school history. Marshall was No. 33 in pass-efficiency during 2013, improving to No. 15 his senior year.
    The Auburn offense finished No. 13 in run-offense and No. 9 in pass-efficiency offense. The Tigers were No. 17 in total-offense and No. 26 in scoring-offense.
    Based on yards per game, yards per play, points per game, TD ratio and strength of schedule, the 2014 Auburn offense is No. 3 among the past 60 Auburn offensive units. The 2010 offense was No. 1 with a 213.5 rating, the 2013 offense was No. 2 with a 209.9 rating and the 2014 unit had a rating of 199.6.
    From 1970-2014, Auburn has compiled a record of 204-6-0, when scoring at least 30 points during regulation. Four of the 6 losses have come during the past 2 seasons.
    From 2009-2014 (79 games), Auburn has allowed 26 PPG, 398.3 YPG and 163.2 yards rushing per game. Of those 79 games, it includes 26 losses, where Auburn allowed 36 PPG, 446.5 YPG and 222.6 yards rushing per game. The second installment of Will Muschamp's defense cannot start soon enough.
    The 2014 season marks the 12th time Auburn has closed a season with only 1 win during their last 5 games of the season since 1950. The Auburn coaching staff has their work cut out for them as Auburn followed up the previous 11 seasons with a win percentage of .622 the following year.
    Looking at only FBS competition, Auburn's 2014 schedule ended up being the 6th most difficult in school history, minus the result of the "Auburn" game.
    10 of Auburn's 13 opponents this season (76.9%) were FBS programs that finished the season with a winning record. It was the 3rd highest percentage of winning opponents faced during a season from 1950-2014. The 1983 team holds the highest percentage (83.3%).
    So what happened to the 2014 Auburn defense? During the first 5 games of the season, Auburn faced opponents that averaged 402.0 YPG, averaging 30.4 PPG. The Auburn defense held them to 24% below their yardage average and 53% below their scoring average. During their last 7 FBS games, Auburn faced offenses that averaged 463.3 YPG, while scoring 35.1 PPG. Auburn allowed those 7 teams to gain 5.5% more yardage than their average, while scoring 7.7% more than the opponent's average. In a nutshell, the competition was better during the second-half of the season, but Auburn's production percentages should not have collapsed as much as it did.
    Time to move onto 2015 and Happy New Year!
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The Auburn Family Gives Back

Auburn (AL) - There are two popular phrases that echo within Auburn’s student body; these are the Auburn Family and the Auburn Spirit. An outsider unfamiliar with these phrases might ask what the Auburn Family and Auburn Spirit are.  And while any given student can give their explanation of what it is, the truth is that the best way explain this spirit of family to someone isn’t to tell them, but to show them. This is what the Auburn student body did last week for Tiger Giving Day. Tiger Giving Day is a 24-hour period in which students rally behind causes and organizations they believe in and are passionate about to raise funds in order to meet their cause’s specific goal. Out of the 29 organizations represented through Tiger Giving Day, 20 of them not only met but exceeded their original fundraising goals. This is an outstanding record of success that makes a bold statement about the giving nature of the Auburn Family.  Student Government Association (SGA) Senator Mason Easterling had this to say about the event and what it says about Auburn University, “Tiger Giving Day shows the faithful support of the Auburn Family. It shows that alumni care about the future of the University, and the future of the students here in giving towards current programs. Rarely do you see so many people, not just big donors, etc., but regular people with a degree consistently give back to a university like the Auburn Family give back to Auburn." David Facteau, an Auburn University junior, echoed Easterling’s sentiment toward Tiger Giving Day stating, “Tiger Giving Day is just a very cool event and definitely epitomizes what it means to be a member of the Auburn Family. What you had on Tiger Giving Day was a large number of students donating their personal time and money to help others and support something to believe in. Things like that make you proud to be a part of the Auburn Family.” Mr. Facteau furthered his stance by speaking about the role alumni played in the event, “Tiger Giving Day also allows young alumni the opportunity to give back, and I think that shows so much about the Auburn Family that people have loved and cherished their time so much at Auburn that they are willing to donate right out of college to make Auburn a better place.” After speaking to a number of students on campus, all who knew of Tiger Giving Day had very positive things to say about it and strongly believe it should continue in the future. A picture is worth a thousand words, and Tiger Giving Day painted a crystal clear image of what it means to be a part of the Auburn Family, to have a spirit that is not afraid, and to be an Auburn Tiger.

WilliamHeartsill

WilliamHeartsill

 

Những món ăn Đài Loan được yêu thích nhất

1. Bánh kẹp
bánh hamburger Đài Loan đây là tên người ta hay gọi cho món bánh kẹp này. Đây là một món ăn vặt nổi tiếng khá ngon và khá là phổ biến ở Đài Loan nó trông chẳng khác bánh hamburger nổi tiếng ở Mỹ. Bánh nhìn khá là hấp dẫn bên ngoài được phủ một lớp vỏ bằng bột mì và bên trong của bánh là nhân thịt lợn. 2. Thịt viên
Dù chưa nếm thử mùi vị của bánh nhưng chỉ nhìn thôi là cũng đủ sức làm bạn thèm rồi vì thịt viên được bao bởi lớp bột trong suốt. Thịt viên được làm chính sau đó sẽ được chấm với nước dùng thơm lừng có vị ngọt dịu. Nếu bạn đã có cơ hội thưởng thức món thịt viên chắc chắn bạn sẽ nhớ mãi hương vị của món ăn này. Cách làm thịt kho ngon đơn giản tại nhà 3. Bánh bao chiên
Món bánh bao chiên cũng được biết đến rộng rãi tại Việt Nam nhưng tại Đài Loan thì món ăn này lại được chú ý nhiều hơn vì nó là đặc sản của nơi này vỏ của bánh được làm bằng bột mỳ, nhân của bánh được làm bằng thịt heo bánh sẽ được hấp chính trước khi tiến hành chiên. Bánh bao được chiên vàng trong rất đẹp mắt bên cạnh đó là mùi thơm thoang thoảng đưởng toả ra từ món ăn này. 4. Bánh tiết lợn
Đây là loại bánh khá là độc đáo nó độc đáo ngay từ tên gọi đầu tiên. Bánh này được làm từ gạo và tiết lợn. Nhiều vị khách khi nghe quá món ăn này đều tỏ vẻ sợ hãi và từ chối chọn nhưng những ai đã vượt qua được những điều này sẽ cảm thấy đây là một món ăn ngon có một không hai và sẽ thật khó để có thể bỏ qua nó. 5. Hàu ốp lếp
Một đặc sản nổi tiếng của vùng ngoại ô Đại Nam ở An Bình. Hàu là nguyên liệu chính của món ăn này sau những mùa thu hoạch số lượng hàu sẽ rất nhiều vì thế người ta thường nghĩ ra món ăn này để góp phần tạo thêm sự phong phú của món ăn Đài Loan. Hàu sẽ được ốp lếp cùng một số nguyên liệu khác nữa như trứng, khoai tây và bột mì với một chút rau diếp. Theo thời gian món ăn này càng nổi tiếng và đã có mặt ở hầu hết những khu chợ đêm của Đài Loan. How to get a Vietnam visa for Indian citizens

codespot

codespot

 

Best5Zach's Best 5 SEC Coaches (and more)

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here. The Auburn Realist: Overview Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter! It's all the rage! Somebody somewhere did their annual ranking of all coaches in college football, starting with a complete ranking of the SEC coaches. Pundits have an issue with their rankings. You have an issue with their rankings. Me? Yeah. I take exception to them, too. I'm not going to post their rankings up here on my blog. Why? Well, because I am too lazy, mostly. But also because they don't link my stuff and I am spiteful. I will say that they took the easy way out and voted Saban first and Mason last. Big surprise. 1) Nick Saban- Yeah, it's the easy way out. Even though I could play my Auburn Tiger card and put him last, without really feeling bad about it. I could easily point out how he has been out-coached when it really matters. It's true, and don't deny it. When Saban doesn't bring his A-Game (specifically when he is overlooking a game), he looses. I point to South Carolina and Auburn in 2010. How about his 2 different Sugar Bowl meltdowns. Look no further than Kick 6 or how about that loss last year to Ohio State and a 3rd string QB? That's enough beating up on him, for now.....so let's move on to why he is number 1. One of Two coaches to win National Championships at Multiple schools. 4 Overall. That's a feat in and of itself. And, he has done it in under 15 years.
He revolutionized recruiting, across the board. Recruiting has always been the avenue to winning games, but it wasn't in the spotlight until Saban came to the Capstone. He has never finished outside the top 5 and is becoming an annual #1. ESPN really needs to write him a large check for the solid he did them in making recruiting what it is.
He churns out an impressive number of NFL talent on defense. And, while the offense turns out its fair share of draft picks, it's becoming impossible to deny that his process is making players appear better than they really are.
He may lack at coaching prowess in some games, but his ability to assemble top notch coaches and make them better is undeniable. Much like the Bear pipeline of the 60s and 70s, in 10 years, there won't be a top coaching staff in the country that doesn't have a Saban legacy member.
Despite all the groaning by his own fans, his "process" may not be glamorous, but it is the most stable one in the country. Even in years without elite talent and with massive NFL turnover, his process is good for 8 games a season.
2) Steve Spurrier-South Carolina is the 3rd stop of this coach where he came to a dreadful program and turned it into a really good program. Keep in mind that several top coaches had turns at SCAR and couldn't do the job. By the time Dr. Lou had left, it didn't look possible to win in Columbia, SC. He has proven otherwise. Obviously his time in Florida is what puts him in the discussion of all-timers and number 2 on this list, I can't help but stress that the job he has done at SCAR. In my opinion, you take the opening game loss to TAMU last year out of the occasion, and the "bad" 2014 season is a slightly down year to the 3 straight 11 win seasons (best in the SEC, mind you). He has recruited exceptionally well for the top recruits(Lattimore/Clowney/Jeffery) and if he could close the gap on the middle of the road recruits, he will start winning the east. The only gripe I have has been his inability to consistently get to Atlanta in a down period of the East. His ability to develop QBs is most impressive, turning in average guys into clutch QBs. Until 2014, he had coached 3 straight 11 win seasons. While SCAR doesn't have a NC to show for it, that kind of streak is something that Auburn hasn't has never done, despite their NC appearances.
Produced a number 1 NFL Draft Pick in Clowney. Obviously, that's a big deal.
Has beaten a #1 ranked team. Not many coaches can boast being a Number 1. And, beating a #1 ranked Saban team is something that should really stand for something.
Has produced a Heisman winner
Has won a National Championship. Again, Championships really mean something. He has 1 NC and 6 SEC Championships, which is more than a lot of SEC programs. If he didn't have them, we might be naming the #3 guy on our list as the #2.
3) Mark Richt-Other than Chris Peterson and his stint at Boise State, I don't think there has been a more undervalued coach than Mark Richt. He has the longest tenure in the SEC, having arrived to the Hedges in 2000 and has compiled a 136-48 record, which is good for nearly 0.750. He has 6 SEC-East and 2 SEC Titles. The largest difference in he and the two above him is the ominous parity in being in the big game. He has stood toe-to-toe with Spurrier since Spurrier came to SCAR, splitting the series 5-5. Against Saban, Richt has been 1-1 in regular season, losing a crucial SEC-Championship game on the very last play. Though Saban has consistently recruited for that top spot on the board, Richt has been a stalwart recruiter who finishes extremely well every single year. In my opinion, he has matched the rest of the SEC in the ability to churn out NFL draft picks. Though Saban has gotten "over the hump" more than any other coach, Richt is on the same level of program stability. To top it off, he runs a clean program, in that any trouble makers are booted off the team without question, regardless of their talent level. Recruits extremely well. Richt has quietly been a perennial top 10, having finished no lower than 15th in the last 10 years.
He has an incredible win-loss record in the SEC, even against the top tier coaches and programs.
He has an impressive resume of producing NFL-talent.
In terms of stability, he ranks 2nd only to Saban.
He simply can't close out a season and make it to the big game.
4) Dan Mullen - Unlike the coaches listed above, I don't determine Mullen has the #4 based upon just wins/losses/championships. If I did, I would have to list Les Miles as the #4. But I think that Les Miles isn't here because Mullen does so much more with less. Also, there have never been gaping holes at MSU nor the absolutely bone-headed calls that plague Les Miles. Let's start from the beginning, where he was the QB coach at Utah under Meyer, producing QBs that went on to finish 27-0 in a 2 year stint, which produced a 1st rounder pick in Alex Smith. With Meyer at Florida, Mullen turned a struggling Chris Leak into a National Championship winning QB while developing Tim Tebow, who would be a perennial Heisman finalist (and winner). Tebow would become one of the most iconic players in all of college football. At Mississippi State, he is 46-31 and 22-26 in the SEC. While those numbers are not on the level with the coaches preceding him (and following), he became a coach in the SEC-West during its most competitive era. Since his entry as head coach, the SEC-West has been a legitimate 5-team league and while LSU, Auburn, and Alabama have been the representatives for the division, he has been on their heels, alternating between 4th and 5th in the league until 2014, where he finished 2nd with a 10-win season, only the 2nd in program history. Thought that looks pedestrian, he has been 3 plays away from beating Auburn teams, including two squads that would make the NC game. Despite being bracketed on all sides by talent-rich pools that are gobbled up by other bordering SEC competitors, including a high water mark for Ole Miss recruiting, Mullen has been able to recruit...and develop....impressive talent. While he isn't a top-10 recruiter, as per recruiting services, he is recruiting at a higher level than MSU has been accustomed to, perhaps better than ever DESPITE having borders with Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Louisiana has been a talent-rich area that most major SEC programs continue to dip into, despite having an LSU program who recruits in the top-10 annually. Alabama as two top-tier SEC programs and few top talent players leave Alabama. Conversely, both schools recruit Mississippi heavily, with success. Even their own in-state rival is recruiting at an all-time high. It is impressive that Mullen can pull Top-20 talent, despite this.
Despite solid finishes in recruiting, he has had a single 5-Star player (which he kept in-state), which speaks to his ability to develop average talent into winning seasons.
Though he "got over the hump" in 2014 by winning 10 games, Mullen has been on the cusp of being a top SEC-West team since he came into the league. As mentioned, he has been 3 plays away 3 different years from finishing in the top 3 in the division (in a division that featured eventual SEC and National Champs).
It bears mentioning that he had MSU at #1 for the majority of the 2014 season, which is an accomplishment in and of itself, something that had never been done before. And, he did that by beating a #2 Auburn team.
He has been able to assemble a balanced and impressive coaching staff. Unlike some of his competitors, State has been good on both sides of the ball, never relying on one side or the other, something that his divisional competitors have done.
In terms of stability, have you heard of any behavioral issues in Starkville? I didn't think so.
There is hardly a coach out there who has done more with less, and in the toughest division in college football.
5) Les Miles- Though Nick Saban may have been the best coach to come through Baton Rouge, Miles did something that Saban couldn't do...and did it in his first two seasons. He won 10 games in 2 seasons. And, in 2007, he won 12 games on his way to a National Championship. He has finished with less than 10 wins only 3 times. Additionally, he has 2 SEC Championships. After Saban, Miles may be the best recruiter in the sport, finishing in the top 10 annually. Despite being an offensive-minded coach, LSU has been one of the best NFL-pipelines, specifically for defensive players. Though he doesn't have the rings that Saban has, he could be one of the top 3....if he didn't have some gaping holes in his game. His inability to recruit and develop NFL-caliber (much less college football winning) QBs is simply mind-boggling, despite his background as an offensive play caller. Additionally, he has had some of the most ludicrous clock management and clutch play calling of any major coach I have ever seen. The only time I have ever seen it actually work was against Auburn in 2008 where he went for a TD on the last play of the game instead of a field goal. Perhaps the biggest knock against Miles will be his dreadful rematch performance against Alabama in the 2011 NC game. Again, despite being an offensive mind, he coached his offense into the worst offensive production of the BCS era. That brings us to another point, when he losses, he frequently losses to teams he shouldn't, a la Kentucky in 2007 and Tennessee in 2005. Despite that, I don't think I have ever seen someone who can recruit as many NFL caliber running backs and receivers as Miles. Unfortunately for both, he doesn't get to utilize them to their full potential. The former because he has routinely had 3 NFL backs in a single backfield, all who share carries. In the latter, he hasn't been able to field a QB to throw to the receivers, aside from Mettenburger, who wasn't his recruit to begin with. But, defensively, no one can question he and his coaching staff's ability to prepare young men for the NFL. Aside from Saban, Miles has been the most consistent top-tier recruiter in college football. Despite having the worst NFL turnover in college football, he continues to recruit top talent.
And, he develops them...well, at least defensive players. NFL has churned out defensive backs and d-line more than any other program in college football. When they get to the NFL, they turn out to be just as advertised, something that can't be said for all of Saban's recruits, who benefit from the system more than the development.
Les Miles is the only coach that can constantly go toe-to-toe with Nick Saban. That doesn't mean he has the best record doing it, but he has one better than anyone else, despite losing 4 straight. However, he has been in every game with Saban, which not many coaches can say.
Stability. He has had only 3 seasons with under 10 wins. In the SEC-West, that is a major accomplishment. He has held his coaching staff mostly together, over the years, though the loss of Chavis this year may change all of the above bullet points.
Along with his unconventional play calling and time management, Miles is one of the most fun coaches to watch. That's got to stand for something. At least his isn't Nick Saban.
Just for fun, I asked my wife for her Top 5. Here is what she had to say: 1) Saban 2) Gus 3) Spurrier (although that's more about past than present success) 4) Richt, 5) Les Miles So, I know a lot of you are asking about why I didn't list some other coaches in this top 5. Let's just visit that. Malzahn- The jury is still out, simply because he hasn't been a head coach for 5 years yet. Though he spear-headed the best year to year turn around in college football history in his very first year on The Plains, hallmarked by two plays that will live in infamy, he followed it up much like his predecessor, Chizik, with a disappointing season. There is no doubt that his offensive mind can tear up opposing SEC teams, but can he do what Chizik (despite being a former CD) couldn't do and get am SEC West caliber defense on the field? The proof will be in the pudding,as it was in 2012 for Chizik. If he can develop talent, which signs point to "yes", then he could make this list....one day. Though these lists are all about data points and trending, there simply isn't enough of them to give a real opinion. I sometimes think we haven't seen the best....or worst....from Malzahn. Freeze- Top-notch recruiter? Yep. There is NO DOUBT that Freeze can recruit. Can he bring energy to a program that feeds off it? Yep. However, despite the amazing focus on the team from The Grove, I haven't seen too much in the way of production. There isn't a team in college football that has had the benefit of hype that Ole Miss has received since Freeze came on campus. The fact is that in the last 3 years, no one has started hotter and finished colder than Ole Miss. Yes, I realize that he won a terrific game against the Tide in 2014. How did the season end? The one time top 5 team faltered, just as they had in previous years. My main gripe with Freeze is that he has won games despite himself, many times. In all 3 years, he used Bo Wallace to spearhead his uptempo dual-threat QB attack. And, no one gave the ball away like Bad Bo. Listen, I believed in both of them. So much so that I drafted him in both the last two years in fantasy. Though he may throw for 350 yards and 4 TDs, he would have 3 INTs and a fumble to go with it. He single-handedly lost the two most important games for the Rebels in 2013. So, if Freeze is such a recruiting whiz and a great offensive mind, why are we still debating whether or not another JUCO transfer (Chad Kelly) will be his QB in 2015? Additionally, you cannot win in the SEC West without a run game. It as well might be the 11th commandment. And, Freeze refuses to heed this. And it shows...as he cannot win down the stretch because he can't run out the clock without running his QB (who usually fumbles). Bielema- I really am a Bielema fan. I would love Arkansas to win against everyone but Auburn. Though it isn't really pertinent to this conversation, he runs his mouth a lot and he looks like a whale with his shirt off. What he has done is take an approach very similar to Saban's initially approach at Alabama. He has taken his lumps in his first years, but has focused on player development. Those first 2 years without a divisional win were tough. Tough enough to cry in front of the media......but, it all paid off as there wasn't a hotter team in the SEC by season's end than the Hogs. Believe me, Auburn wouldn't have stood a chance if they would have played them in November rather than September. HOWEVER. Can he recruit? It isn't enough to develop players in this league. You have to get top talent in the West. Similar to MSU, he is bordered by talent rich states in which he has nearly no chance to compete. That's markedly different than Wisconsin where he had ample talent on all sides and few programs to compete with. Also, he had Barry Alvarez standing over his shoulders, whom I think was the man behind the curtain the entire time. I sometimes wonder who was really calling the shots that got them to all those Rose Bowls. Jones- Similar to Freeze, but with less defense. He has created a lot of hype on Rocky Top. He hasn't delivered. All I heard about was the great improvement that was going on. I watched a lot of games last year, specifically those late games where they were trying to win the East. Let's not get it twisted. The East sucks. Take any....and I mean ANY....team in the West and put them in the East ...and you will have your divisional winner. All this hype over the Vols and Josh Dobbs. Are you kidding me? The only good product coming out of Jone's team is the receivers. Which is ironic, because "receiving it" is the only thing the Vols have been doing. In all seriousness, they have pumped out some great ones. There are two that made my list of fantasy must-haves. You can read about that here: Best5Zach's Best 5 Fantasy Receivers for 2015 Recruiting has been solid, but it's time to win games. Can he develop Dobbs? Will Hurd become the dominate game closer? The clock is ticking. That's not something a good coach has to worry about. Sumlin- This guy. I don't know what he is doing. I just don't understand. I have never seen a program win a few games and turn everything we know about college football ON ITS HEAD only to see them melt. Take Manziel's Magical Year. They win all these games they shouldn't, including the Bama game. They STILL don't make it into the SEC Championship...which is what really matters. More of the same in 2013. Then, in 2014, they snapped necks with their first few games with Kenny Trill. We all questioned what was really going on in College Station. The Auburn game aside (which I don't award a win to TAMU, just a loss to AU), THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE. Jokers. It's like those ghosts from Mario Bros 3. When you don't look at them, they get you. When you are watching out for them....just kidding...they aren't real. When it comes to recruiting, he is doing a magnificent job at landing some monster classes. How is he doing it? I'm not going to say he is cheating....but..... Pinkel- Everyone has this guy in their top 5?!?!?! I don't have anything to say about Pinkel. Sure, he has gotten to the SECCG two years in a row.... And lost.... Badly. In case you missed it, I firmly believe the SEC East is garbage, so it's no real feat. Let's keep in kind that if James Franklin were still at Vandy, they might represent the SEC East. In both years, the Mo Tigers have melted down in terrific fashion at some point in the year, something that good coaches (except for Saban) don't allow. His greatest achievement? Getting DGB. His second? Kicking DGB off the team. Oh, and Micheal Sam. Without Frankin at QB late in 2013 and in 2014, the Tigers looked 2nd class. The rest? Who cares. How about her remaining picks? Mullen Freeze, then everyone else is a lump at the bottom, I might list Jones in there somewhere after this next year </p></p></p>

Best5zach

Best5zach

 

Best5Zach's Best 5 Offensive Questions Heading Into Spring

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here. The Auburn Realist: Overview Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter! Spring practice is HERE and I am DYING to read, write, and talk Auburn football. That being said, I am going to try and avoid repeating the same stuff you have undoubtedly read from our beat reporters. Those guys get paid to give you their opinions, and those opinions are already all over the web. If I say the same thing, why would you want to come on the blog and read what I have to say? I want you coming here to read a differing opinion. Ok ok ok. So a lot of it WILL be similar. After all, it's easy to see some of the glaring holes and huge story lines. It's easy to get SUPER HOPPED UP ON JEREMY JOHNSON. K. Well, I'm getting ahead of myself.... Let's talk offense, and before I get started...let's cherry pick what you have already read about. Try and read past a lot of the sarcasm in some of these bullets. CAP (SEC-leading rusher) is gone. Auburn will have to decide between Roc Thomas and Jovon Robinson. Coates is gone. Duke returned. Whoop. Whoop. Jeremy Johnson is a better QB than Marshall. Golson is going to slide over to center and replace Rimington Award winner, Reese Dismukes. I have to admit, the flavor I get from all of the articles I have read is that Auburn is upgrading errrwhere and that the offense will be bigger and better than ever. But Auburn losses almost all of its offensive production and *perhaps* the most valuable interior lineman in the modern era. It also losses guys like Uzomah and Fulse, who provided stability at their position for 4 years. Toss in a bonus early departure in Pat Miller and you have an offense that losses more men than it returns. Let's talk it out. Click the link. Read. Comment. http://best5zach.blo...-questions.html

Best5zach

Best5zach

 

Best5Zach's Best 5 Offensive Questions Heading Into Spring

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here. The Auburn Realist: Overview Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter! Spring practice is HERE and I am DYING to read, write, and talk Auburn football. That being said, I am going to try and avoid repeating the same stuff you have undoubtedly read from our beat reporters. Those guys get paid to give you their opinions, and those opinions are already all over the web. If I say the same thing, why would you want to come on the blog and read what I have to say? I want you coming here to read a differing opinion. Ok ok ok. So a lot of it WILL be similar. After all, it's easy to see some of the glaring holes and huge story lines. It's easy to get SUPER HOPPED UP ON JEREMY JOHNSON. K. Well, I'm getting ahead of myself.... Let's talk offense, and before I get started...let's cherry pick what you have already read about. Try and read past a lot of the sarcasm in some of these bullets. CAP (SEC-leading rusher) is gone. Auburn will have to decide between Roc Thomas and Jovon Robinson. Coates is gone. Duke returned. Whoop. Whoop. Jeremy Johnson is a better QB than Marshall. Golson is going to slide over to center and replace Rimington Award winner, Reese Dismukes. I have to admit, the flavor I get from all of the articles I have read is that Auburn is upgrading errrwhere and that the offense will be bigger and better than ever. But Auburn losses almost all of its offensive production and *perhaps* the most valuable interior lineman in the modern era. It also losses guys like Uzomah and Fulse, who provided stability at their position for 4 years. Toss in a bonus early departure in Pat Miller and you have an offense that losses more men than it returns. Let's talk it out. Click the link. Read. Comment. http://best5zach.blogspot.com/2015/03/best5zachs-best-5-offensive-questions.html

Best5zach

Best5zach

 

Upon Further Review: Auburn's Understated Need at Center

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here. The Auburn Realist: Overview Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter! Yesterday was National College Football Fans Watching ESPN In Their Office Day. Also known as National Signing Day. Or #NationalSigningDay or #NDS2015 or a handful of other names. I was right there with you...sorta. I took half a day off for termite inspections for my old house, which I just sold. Nope. No termites, thanks for asking. After the bug man left, I headed to work. That was shortly after Auburn nabbed Holland. At that point, Auburn was smokin' hot and had several huge recruits left to announce. But after I got to work, Auburn whiffed on the remaining big names. Maybe I should have stayed home, eh? There are two topics I want to discuss in this post, which go back to articles I wrote last week (that few people read). There two were: Auburn's Understated Needs of 2015 Signing Day: Center Auburn's Understated Needs of 2015 Signing Day: Wide Receiver I will happily discuss the rest of the recruiting class, but I felt that these two positions were two positions that the Auburn coaching staff didn't seem to be able to fill, despite having needs. Today, let's talk about the need at center. In regards to center, Auburn lost a rarity in a 4-year letterman and future NFL player, Dismukes. Coming out of highschool, he was an obvious SEC-talent with his high motor and mean streak. He was a player that I felt could have come out last year after the road grater performance that was the 2013 Auburn Offense. I felt that Auburn needed him back worse than even Tre Mason, and I even wrote a whole piece on it. However, nothing could keep him another year, with his eligibility expiring. Losing him is one thing, but not having a capable replacement for him is another thing entirely. Auburn has been unable to develope a replacement center for Dismukes in 3 years. Dampeer may turn into a good one, but he is not a premier SEC-player.....yet. And, who does Auburn have behind him? No one. Auburn needed a smart, athletic, and tough recruit. Personally, I wanted someone fit for the position coming out of high school, not a converted player. Initially, Auburn had no one on the list going into signing day, though they had a chance with Kaleb Kim from Georgia. Kim at 6'3" 280, is the 5th best center on the 247composite rankings. He was the last uncommitted premier center on the group and Auburn landed his signature. You know that I don't really care for stars, so I decided to watch some of his highlights. My quick thoughts? The first thing I noticed was that his highlights showed him playing tackle, not center. Kim was bigger than 95% of the kids he lined up against on film, almost comically so. This presented some issues when it came to pad level. Ideally, I would like to see linemen utilize hand placement and arm strength to beat opposing players who aren't in the same size range. Doing so allows more efficient movement. That is, once the player on the first level is defeated, disengage and move to the 2nd level. Furthermore, using this technique keeps opposing players from locking up in close quarters and using superior size as a leverage. Instead, I saw Kim constantly leaning on players. While his superior size easily overwhelmed other players, it frequently came at a cost of him falling on top of his opponents during the play. Instead of being able to engage multiple players every play, he would take himself out of the play. When he played against someone in his weight class, he was frequently out-leveraged. Again, he tried to use his mass by leaning on a player. If the player was strong enough, they could defeat Kim by using his 6'3" frame against him. I thought he struggled more with pass protection than run blocking. During pass plays, he frequently let defenders engage him too close to his core. I want to see a lineman engage a pass rusher at the maximum distance and dictate where they go. However, he has very good speed when pulling on run plays, frequently setting an edge easily and efficiently. At times, his footwork was very good. There were many plays were it was designed for him to engage a player and then pull. This required him to utilize choreographed steps. When substance such as this was required, he did very well. Unlike highschool, most every play will be like this in college, so it was good to see a player who understood footwork. Despite seeing his reliance on size and weight in engagement, I did see an aggressive player who wants to finish plays. The footwork and hand placement can be taught. What can't be taught is the cerebral needs of the position. That is, all of the presnap stuff such as coverage calling and snap count....not to mention the snap itself. Without seeing him at center, I can't judge him. Additionally, being bigger isn't always the best thing. Auburn can't change the fact that the kid is 6'3". Typically, coaches want a center to have a lower center of mass, which is not something Kim has. Post snap, the body automatically raises. Kim will present an easy target for a DT or noseguard to out-leverage. Additionally, you aren't looking for a 300 pounder. You need a player who can move on their feet well. That being said, every single one of the top center recruits listed were over 6'2" and over 270 pounds. Kim, at 280, was the second lightest. Now, all of these kids will reshape their bodies over the next year. Of the guys I have seen, he has one of the better chances of transferring into a lean center capable of superior footwork and multi-level blocking. Remember, these kids have to block 320 pound nose tackles and 225 pound speeding linebackers equally well. I can't complain too much.Designated centers are getting rare these days, especially in the form of SEC-caliber size and talent recruits. Coach Gus Malzahn nabbed one of the few ones out there and the only one that was in the Top 5 at the position, as per recruiting services. He has the physical edge and motor. Will he be teachable? Coach did exactly what he needed to do. Despite a list of committed centers, he managed to go out and get one of the best. I do think the kid needs a lot of work, but Auburn had a need in this recruiting class and it was filled with one of the better players in the country.

Best5zach

Best5zach

 

Auburn's Understated Needs of 2015 Signing Day: Wide Receiver

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here. The Auburn Realist: Overview Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter! National Signing Day is only 48 short hours from now. After that...well....it's a long way until Spring Practice. Social media is currently inundated with National Signing Day articles. It is a flood of flips and flops, hopes and dreams of a mythical NSD championship. And, for the 5th year in a row, the rest of College Football is scrambling for the Tide's scraps. Yes, it's true (and hard to admit). Alabama will sign the most ESPN 300 players in history on their way to perhaps the greatest recruiting class in modern recruiting history. Theoretically...of course. Talent sure helps, but it doesn't win trophies. Alas, we must press on. But, no, I don't want to talk about THEM. I want to talk about the Tigers. And, I don't want to talk about the same things all the beat reporters have already told you. In case you missed it, I blogged late last week about the #1 priority that I think Auburn has....and it is has been completely understated. That being the need for a smart and dominate SEC-type center. You can read that article here: Auburn's Understated Needs of 2015 Signing Day: Center But, this isn't the only position that I think Auburn has an understated need. Perhaps even MORE understated is the need for game-breaking Wide Receivers. Now, most of you are rolling your collective eyes. You are thinking, Auburn has potentially the best returning wide receiver in college football and an almost guaranteed first round lock in Duke Williams. No, I am not diminishing Duke Williams. After all, I thought it was IMPERATIVE that he and Sammie Coates return for their senior season, which I wrote about and you can read here: Why Sammie and Duke Should Return for 2015 Of course, I was referring to developing their game and not how they would produce in the 2015 offensive unit. And, Coates didn't listen to me and he finds himself a borderline 1st round pick to POTENTIALLY the World Champion Patriots, who DESPERATELY need someone aside from Lafell as a deep threat. So, I can accept being wrong on that account. Now that we know that Duke is returning, what do we expect from him? Well, he is a terrific big-body target who dominates across the middle and provides a massive vertical target inside the red zone, a la Calvin Johnson. But, Auburn's offense under Guz Malzahn has never been predicated with having this type of receiver. We kind of addressed this in an earlier post. Where Does Auburn Look to Replace Offensive Production in 2015 Looking back at Auburn's offenses under Malzahn, if you look at the breakdown between the more explosive units (2009, 2010, 2013) versus those that weren't (2011, 2014), you will find that the X-factor is always a vertical threat. Under Malzahn, Auburn has featured 2 such receivers in Darvin Adams and Sammie Coates. Though Adams never turned into an NFL talent, he was as good a deep threat as there was in college football. In 2013, Coates was arguably the best. He was extremely limited in 2014 because of injuries and the Auburn offense struggled, despite having capable possession receivers in Williams and Bray. Looking back at 2011, you see the same. Despite having an NFL tight end AND receiver in Lutz and Emory Blake, Auburn had no legitimate deep threat. Defenses were able to limit Auburn's offense by stopping Dyer early in the down and forcing Auburn into 3rd and long situations where they struggled mightily when defenses walked 9 men into the box and into press coverage. Interestingly enough, despite what the recruiting sites tell us about Auburn's recent recruiting prowess, the ability to lure in top-tier wide receivers WHO PAY OFF has eluded Auburn. Though Adams was one of the best receivers in recent memory, he wasn't a Malzhan era recruit. Only Emory Blake has managed to put together an NFL-type career. Along the way, Auburn has signed some huge busts. Now, in the years below, I do recognize that Malzahn wasn't the coordinator in 2012. However, he had a hand in recruiting all of these guys. Let's take a look. In 2009, Auburn signed DeAngelo Benton, a 4-Star who was supposed to be the bookend for fellow new comer Emory Blake, but he turned in a near zero stat line in his time at Auburn. In 2010, Auburn signed 3 4-Star or greater WRs. 5-Star Trovon Reed, who never turned into any resemblance of a star and remains one of the biggest recruiting whiffs in the modern recruiting era. Neither did his fellow 4-Star receivers, Antonio Goodwin and Jeremy Richardson, neither of which contributed. In 2011, Auburn signed 3-Star Sammie Coates, who has worked out marvelously. The same can't be said for 4-Star Jaylon Denson, who has been hampered by injury as he enters his last year. These were the only 2 WRs signed that year. In 2012, Auburn signed 4-Star Ricardo Louis, who despite being a legendary figure for the Prayer in Jordan-Hare, has struggled with the ability to catch the ball. He has turned into a decent running threat and looks to have a breakout year in 2015. His only other WR counterpart, Jaquay Williams, failed to qualify academically. In 2013, Auburn signed the most WRs in recent memory. 4-Star Earnest Robinson and Jason Smith failed to qualify, though 4-Star Tony Stevens has been produced when thrown to. Of the 3-Stars, Dominic Walker and Marcus Davis, only Davis has been effective...in his limited play. In 2014, only Duke Williams provided any stats from the signing WRs, though he was a JUCO guy. Stanton Truitt, a 4-Star guy, hasn't made it on the field though the coaching staff has been impressed. It's obvious that Auburn hasn't had trouble recruiting for stars. The problem is, there hasn't a relationship with expected talent level and production. The two game-breaking receivers who make the Gus Malzahn offense work were both 3-star receivers in Adams and Coates. Of the 14 4-Star and 5-Star receivers that Auburn has signed since 2008, only Emory Blake has gone on to the NFL, though Duke Williams seems to be a future NFL lock. And, only Duke has turned in any sort of expected production. I do admit that I believe, in some cases such as Marcus Davis and Tony Stevens, it has been the play calling and not the performance. After all, both of these guys have caught every pass thrown their way. Fast forward to NSD. Auburn currently has only 3 guys committed who are most likely to play receiver. Both McGriff and Smith (who signed back in 2013 and is supposedly going out for QB) are listed as 4-Star Athletes. Though Smith has stated that he wants to play QB, and the coaching staff has promised him the chance, it would take a most impressive push for him to bump Johnson and White from starters. Kerryon Johnson comes to Auburn listed as a RB and has made it clear he wants to play RB. However, KJ was the centerpiece (thus far) of the 2015 class and, as I stated months ago, keeping him...even by promising a shot at RB....was imperative. Keeping KJ: The Recruitment and Retention of Kerryon Johnson With Roc Thomas poised to take over the position vacated by Corey Grant and with Jovon Robinson ready to be the bruiser, I see Kerryon as a Reggie Bush type player. He reminds me of Bush with his hybrid abilities. I firmly believe that without a lot of coaching, he will never be a 1st and 2nd down back with his pad level and footwork. However, he could fit the void left by Bray as a tunnel/slip screen and sweep running option. Auburn looses Bray and Coates and seems to have fill ins with Davis, Truitt, and Stevens. Though Davis and Stevens have been effective, neither are vertical speedsters to "take the top off the defense." Word is that Truitt has that ability, but he hasn't seen the field yet, so I reserve judgement. The closest player Auburn has that can match the need would be Louis, who has the speed. Clocked at under 4.3 last year, many thought Louis would enter 2014 with improved hands and route running. He never turned into that consistent threat, and despite the long TD catch in the Outback Bowl, it remains to be seen if he can get open AND catch the ball when contested. My feeling is that he won't turn the corner in 2015. It's interesting how Auburn continues to load in specific positions when only 1 guy can play that position each year, I.E. QB. However, receiver has been the one position Auburn continues to struggle with, and that positions commands the most players on the offensive side of the ball. Auburn must have 5 receivers, minimum, who can play. At least 1 of those guys must be a legitimate vertical threat for the HUNH offense to work, yet there doesn't seem to be a player on the roster or committed to Auburn heading into NSD. Yet, this position hasn't been one that seems to be a battle ground, if you are reading up on the late push for signees. Instead, Auburn seems more interested in defensive play makers. The last week's media has been littered with articles following the recruitment of the 3-package deal that includes the consensus "best player in high school" DE Cowart. Additionally, Auburn is in a fight for the best offensive lineman available, Ivey. Yet, Auburn has significant depth in both of these positions (though the DL didn't live up to expectations in 2014). Instead, the top 2 high school receivers in the nation head to Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge...both schools with extensive questions at QB and renown for having incredible and underutilized talent at receiver. There are several targets left on the board and you should never rule out 11th hour flips. 4-Star Ryan Davis looks to be the closest WR that Auburn has to a legitimate chance to land. However, he doesn't have the range or height Auburn needs in a deep threat. Surprisingly, of the uncommitted WRs, Davis is the only target that actually had an Auburn visit. Obviously, I have faith in the coaching staff to assess their needs and go after the guys they want. However, there have been glaring needs at WR, as the passing game under Malzahn has often looked like a 1-trick-pony. Furthermore, Auburn hasn't been able to be consistent on offense from year to year, mostly because receivers like Coates and Adams have massive years and leave while the understudies lack development. Auburn must have that deep threat to make the HUNH offense work, as we talked about in the beginning of this post. Yet they have been unable to recruit and develop the type talent Auburn needs to make a playoff push and be a consistently good team. This year looks to be more of the same. Though Auburn has some great talent coming in on the offensive side of the ball, it doesn't have a premier pass catcher among it. Furthermore, Auburn doesn't seem like it will be the landing ground for any of the remaining targets. In closing, Auburn will end the year with STATISTICALLY one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. This is a reoccurring theme for most every team in the SEC. However, if you read any of my blogs, you know I have a major gripe with the inability to turn these consistently good recruiting classes into consistently good teams. Auburn hasn't had consecutive 10 win seasons. Ever. Despite having Top 10 classes each of the last few years. On the flip side, THAT team across the state considers it a failure to only have 10 wins a season. Why? I think it is because they don't just recruit for stars, but they recruit with detail. Not only do they recruit for their glaring needs, but for their understated needs. Auburn has at least 2 of those. Will the coaches address them?

Best5zach

Best5zach

 

Auburn's Understated Needs of 2015 Signing Day: Center

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here. The Auburn Realist: Overview Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter! Social media is currently inundated with National Signing Day articles. It is a flood of flips and flops, hopes and dreams of a mythical NSD championship. And, for the 5th year in a row, the rest of College Football is scrambling for the Tide's scraps. Yes, it's true (and hard to admit). Alabama will sign the most ESPN 300 players in history on their way to perhaps the greatest recruiting class in modern recruiting history. Theoretically...of course. Talent sure helps, but it doesn't win trophies. Alas, we must press on. But, no, I don't want to talk about THEM. I want to talk about the Tigers. And, I don't want to talk about the same things all the beat reporters have already told you. It's no secret that skill position players are always glitzy and glamorous. The 5-star studs everyone is talking about, whether at QB, RB, WR or otherwise have fans wringing their hands. Fans simply can't wait to see these talented plays get their hands on the ball. And, why not? They do amazing things when they have the ball. I admit it, I am excited to see Kerryon Johnson take the field for the Auburn Faithful. So much so, that I wrote an article about how it was imperative that Auburn MAKE SURE he makes it to The Loveliest Village on the Plains, called Keeping KJ. Take a second to read it. Across the SEC, schools are stockpiling these skill position players with reckless abandon. Auburn is right there with them. When I decided that I wanted to partake in the NSD discussions, I wanted to talk about Auburn's actual NEEDS in recruiting. The needs I came up with, off the top of my head, were the same ones that most all the beat reporters had listed, though I disagree with the priority that they have. Yes, Auburn has some definite needs on the backend of their defense. Auburn has a very understate need at receiver, and it isn't getting talked about....but I will get there. Looking for some inspiration, I started thinking about the major losses on the offense. Obviously, most expect Jeremy Johnson to be as productive as Marshall, just in a different way. Losing Sammie Coates hurts, but it is almost completely offset by the return of Duke Williams. CAP led the SEC in rushing, but most expect Robinson and Thomas to match his numbers, combined at least. Then, I thought about Reese Dismukes. After the 2013 campaign where the Auburn offensive line was a road grater, I expected Reese to come out with Greg Robinson. I even wrote that having Reese return was more important than having Tre Mason return in my Secret to Success in 2014 post. He returned and was a front runner all season for the Rimington Award, which he eventually won. Because of the late season implosion of the team, the bruised and battered fan base didn't quite grasped the enormity of that award, or what losing the player who won it would feel like. The success of this past generation can be weighed on the experience of the center. 2004, 2010, and 2013/14 ...all regarded as the best offensive units in a generation, all featured the same thing: an offensive unit that had gone through trial-by-fire as freshman and sophomores before turning into an all-SEC cohesive unit. Dismukes, like his predecessors in Ingle (2004) and Pugh (2010) were tested early in their career before turning in superior performances later. Dismukes will go on to an NFL career where his predecessors did not, but that isn't surprising as Dismuke was highly regarded coming out of HS as f the best center in the nation by most recruiting services. While I take all of the recruiting with a grain of salt, after reading his bio and watching his game film, I listed him as a "can't miss" All-SEC caliber player before he even arrived on campus. I believed it so much that at fan day in 2011, he was the first autograph I went after. A true freshman center wasn't hard to find, as you can imagine. Dismukes started as a true freshman. Throughout his career, he missed several games for several reasons, notably the game against Clemson in 2012. In his place, several players made ghastly appearances. for example, Tunde Fariyke managed to snap balls over his QBs head on multiple occasions. With Dismukes out of the game, the drop off in offense was always notable. Dismukes hasn't had the same backup in consecutive years, perhaps a testament to a lack of priority in recruiting. Dismukes was a blue chip kid out of high school. Getting him on campus paid drastic dividends for Auburn to the tune of a 4 year starter and Rimington Award. Dampeer was Dismukes in 2014 and seems poised to take the starting job in 2015. Yet, in my eyes, he isn't the tough, hard-nosed punisher that makes all the right calls at the line. So, I started thinking, even if Dampeer works out, who is behind him? With NSD just a few short days from now, I checked Auburn's current commitments, signed LOIs and early enrollers. Auburn has two guys already with signed LOIs that are offensive linemen, both listed as guards. Those would be 4-Star Tyler car and 3-Star Bailey Sharp. Carr is already one of the best overall prospects in the country, but his size (6-5 320) looks to prevent him from being a center. Outside of these two, Auburn has only 2 commitments playing offensive line. Both Kim and Harrell are 4-star guys. Harrell has prototypical size for a guard or tackle while Kim's size may lean towards the ability to play center. Scrolling through the list of centers on Rivals, you have to skip all the way to #16 to find a kid that hasn't committed. And, from there down are nothing but 2-Star players. I recognize that, at this point in their career, an offensive lineman could make the transition, but not all CAN. Playing center is a entirely different position than any other position on the line. The center has to make all the coverage calls, pick up the blitz, while listening to audibles from his QB. And, he touches the ball every single play. It doesn't stop there. The center has to also be able to get a good snap to his QB and get into pass coverage efficiently, something harder than it seems. On run plays, he has to make difficult cut blocks, and is one of the few positions where it is expected to chip AND get to the second level on every play. If you watch Dismukes, you will see that every good between the tackles run is setup by a second level block on a linebacker. We talked earlier about how fans can't wait to see a certain 5-Star receiver get his 5 touches a game. But, little is said about the position that touches the ball every play. When it comes to center, it has to be a kid with a cerebral understanding of the game, attention to detail to ensure that every snap is great, the ability to be tough and physical with an oversized defensive tackle and today's specimen of an SEC linebacker on every play. These jack-of-all-trades are far and few in between. It is surprising to me that Auburn didn't manage to push for a replacement to Dismukes. There were 4 4-Star centers in the 2015 class. Notre Dame, Iowa, Alabama and North Carolina managed to snag one of these guys. Kennedy went to Alabama, a line already stacked with potential NFL caliber. He will have to sit behind Kelly, already a multi-year starter. Hoge went to Notre Dame despite being from Idaho. The remaining two went to out of school teams....neither team a potential Top 25 team in 2015. Is it possible that Auburn might try a late push to flip one of these guys? You would think that an attempt would be made on Kennedy, who resides in Wetumpka. Despite being committed to the Tide, he is probably the best chance the Tigers have to flip a commitment at the 11th hour. Despite the claim that the Hurry Up No Huddle Offense is a faced-paced down hill, run first offense, it sometimes appears to me that Coach Malzahn's recruiting more resembles the West Coast Spread. There is more emphasis on the skill players than the line of scrimmage. Of his 21 current commitments, HALF (10) are skill position players (and not a one is a straight WR...interestingly enough). Another 4 are LBs, which have been a sore spot at Auburn for some time. For a team that wants to be physical upfront and limit mistakes, the Tigers have not recruited very well. 4 total OLs and none of those a legitimate center, the position that may be the most understated need on the roster.

Best5zach

Best5zach

 

The Outback Bowl Experience

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here. The Auburn Realist: Overview Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter! In case you missed it, I covered the Outback Review a few days ago, which is dedicated to the X's and O's of the game. Since we turned this into a family vacation, I figured I would do a write up on our experience. We had a great time and we did it on a slim budget. So, Alyse had to work half a day on the 30th, so we couldn't exactly make it to Tampa. We decided to stop on the south side of Atlanta. That was a mistake. The Choice Hotel's branch we stayed in was a colossal failure. The hot tub didn't work (which i needed because I am old and my bum doesn't take long car rides anymore). The pool had a film on the surface and the pool area had mosquitoes...which I didn't think was possible. To add injury to insult, the toilet essentially exploded. Come 7am, we were O-U-T. We arrived in Clearwater, Florida shortly before sundown on New Year's Eve. After making good time by keeping my foot on the floor of the Acura, which features a 3.5 liter V6 and rear seats with 3 kids 24 inches from your ears....I needed a walk on the beach. Even if it was chilly and nearly dark. After a leisurely stroll on the beach, we wanted to grab some eats. I am a seafood junky at heart. So, we used the handy Urban Spoon app. It directed us to PJ's Oyster Bar. Surprisingly, we got right in, despite the New Year's Eve crowd. So, I had to have some oysters. And..I convinced Aubree to have some too. After that..the seafood feast featuring lobster and crab, of course! The food and service were top notch, despite how busy they were! The next morning, we were up and at it, heading to Raymond James Stadium to see the Tiger's play! Parking was cheap-ish and easy. It was a short jaunt to the stadium! We warned Aubree it would be chilly that morning. She didn't listen. The pregame festivities were really cool. We watched both bands and cheer squads perform in front of the stadium. Tiger walk started 10 minutes early, so we missed it by seconds. Poo poo. We were some of the first into the stadium. We found our seats and ordered an early lunch: 2 hotdogs, a BBQ sandwich, loaded nachos, and a large Coke. $56 dollars later... We watched the team warm up in our endzone and snapped some cool pregame pics! Obviously we lost the game, but the kids had a GREAT time (except Aubree, what was TICKED that we lost). But, the food was good. The fans were having a great time. And the weather was PREFECT! We ate takeout that night and watched Bama lose, which made us feel a little better. The next two days we spent on the beach where it was 83 degrees and PERFECT! Then we enjoyed MORE seafood from LuLu's! And then it was back to the real world..... Here is the amazing part: thanks to all my hotel nights on business, cheap gas, and being frugal (stealing bread, peanut butter and jelly from the hotel for lunch) and sharing dinners, we spent a grand total of $302 bucks, not including tickets.

Best5zach

Best5zach

 

Why Auburn Needs/Wants Jeremy Johnson to Succeed

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here. The Auburn Realist: Overview Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter! I had a bit of revelation a few weeks ago as I was writing another Auburn Realist article that no one read. While writing Where Does Auburn Look to Replace Offensive Production in 2015 , I was putting together some stats regarding JUCO transfer QBs at Auburn and I came up with some really interesting findings. Here is what I said: "Auburn's success in the last decade has been on the shoulders of JUCO transfers. Auburn has failed to be able to recruit a player from HS and turn him into a winner. Since 2009 Auburn has won the vast majority of its games by Todd/Newton/Marshall. Only Brandon Cox can boast being a winning recruit. Auburn has featured Burns/Trotter/Moseley/Frazier as players who were whiffs at the QB position. JUCO transfers are 42-14 while recruits are 15-18. Coincidentally, Johnson is responsible for 3 of those 15 wins. Yikes. Just think about that for a minute. You can see why Auburn is so excited about Johnson and it isn't all about his ability. Auburn has been heavily criticized for using "mercs" to win. Auburn faithful are ready to win with a player that doesn't have baggage, real or imaginary. The upside to Johnson is limitless and it wouldn't be foolish to name him as a Heisman darkhorse for 2015. However, his lack of receivers around him will hamper those abilities. Of the teams replacing QBs in the SEC, Auburn can boast of being the most comfortable. They already have a guy who has started games and looked flawless." That got me thinking about all the different Auburn stars at other positions from the last few years. First off, it is worth talking about the recruiting. Since the day that Saban step foot in Tuscaloosa, the recruiting wars have become a championship of its own. It's no secret that Alabama has owned the country in recruiting. But along the way, Jay Jacobs made clutch hires that thrust Auburn into the modern era of recruiting. Since 2009, Auburn has consistently landed some of the top classes in the country. While Auburn has 2 National Championship appearances and 1 National Championship. Some of the biggest game changers that brought Auburn to these are JUCO guys. The common belief is that Cam Newton won the 2010 National Championship. Without Nick Marshall, it is very doubtful that Auburn would have made its second National Championship appearance in January 2014. Outside of these players, those highly regarded classes have produced few gamechangers and lots of busts. While both state schools have recruited at a very high level, one is consistently a 10 win team, never losing more than 3 games in a season. It continues to pump out NFL players. The other rides a roller coaster and has never had back-to-back 10 win seasons. It's 2 premier seasons were buoyed by JUCO QBs. Now, I understand that every SEC program benefits from bringing JUCO stars on board, but none more so than our beloved Tigers who have guys like Rudy Johnson, Cam Newton, and Nick Fairley. The stars on the 2014 team are almost ENTIRELY JUCO guys: Marshall, Duke Williams, and Cameron Artis-Payne. Auburn is a place that emphasizes "Class" over "Winning." It likes to boast about how its players stay out of trouble and are class-acts. It tries to polarize itself from the other University across the state. And yet from a spectators point of view, it doesn't quite appear that way. While many of the JUCO guys had to take their path due to grades, by and large, most of them are here because they were dismissed from other teams over discipline issues. Case in point, the two best QBs to walk the Plains in a generation were both dismissed from other SEC schools. Both of those stories are well known and I won't take your time in going over them. While I am all for second chances, I have offer to play the Devil's Advocate. Auburn is becoming a haven for players who can't make it elsewhere. And I don't like it. It gives the feeling that this team is filled with mercenaries, case in point, Cam Newton and the Bag Man. I don't really care what other fans say of my University. But when you actually start thinking that they may be right....maybe it really is a problem. Just like I wrote above, the winningest QBs since Brandon Cox are all JUCO guys. If you go by production, it ISN'T EVEN CLOSE. Brandon Cox is Auburn's winningest QB and he had 38 TDs and 28 INTs. In comparison, Cam Newton...by himself...had 30 passing TDs and 7 INTs in one year. Despite stellar recruiting, Auburn has not been able to turn a QB recruit into a winner. Kodi Burns? Nope. 2 TD passes and 7 INTs in 2008. 5 Star Kiehl Frazier....who many thought would be the face of Auburn football for 3 years? 2 TDs and 10 INTs. Moseley? Wallace? The closest that Auburn came to a winning QB was Barrett Trotter with 11TDs and 6 INTs. I can't speak for every Auburn fan, but I am an average one so I suspect many feel as I do. And here is what I feel: Auburn needs Jeremy Johnson to not only succeed, but to excel. Auburn is ready to win without the asterisk attached, even if it is metaphorical. With all of the hype over recruiting, Auburn fans are ready to see a guy who could have gone ANYWHERE but chose to come to Auburn be a big time winner. Don't misunderstand. I am proud to say that Cam Newton is from Auburn, and he did us all a solid by coming back to school and being an outspoken lover of his University. I am amazed and proud of the job Marshall has done. He has been Unstoppable on the field, though he has had his struggles off it. But, I am ready to see a guy come in without the baggage. Without the history. I am ready to see a multi-year starter. And if I want to see it, I know there are a TON of Auburn fans thinking the same thing. Let's face it. The QB is the face of the Universities athletic department. I want a man that portrays each and every value of my school, not one that I subconsciously wonder who he really is and what might happen. I don't want one that I wake up each day and wonder if he will be popped for marijuana again. I don't want one that "landed here." I want to see one of these vaunted recruits that these schools war over actually pan out. I know its silly to compare a mythical "win" in recruiting, but it has become an embarrassment. Each and every year when Auburn finishes in the Top 10, I ask myself which of these guys will actually pan out. Across the state, the field is littered with the same caliber players...who pan out. Jeremy Johnson has the opportunity to be a player that Auburn hasn't had in a generation. He has the potential to be the first QB in my generation to be recruited by Auburn, dominate on the field while being a model citizen. It's a very real possibility. All signs point to that happening. Jeremy Johnson has all of the physical tools needed to be a premier passer. He won't be the shifty runner that Marshall was, nor the freight train that Cam became. But, he is something that neither were while at Auburn: a polished pocket passer. More importantly, he represents everything that the Auburn faithful want to see: he comes with no baggage, either assumed or otherwise.

Best5zach

Best5zach

 

#StatTiger: The Season In Review

Post Season Numbers & Thoughts: During the first 7 games of the season the Auburn defense allowed 5.88 yards per play during the first-half and 4.21 yards per play during the second-half. During the final 6 games of the season, the Auburn defense allowed 5.97 yards per play during the first-half and 6.76 yards per play during the second-half.
During the first 7 games of the season, 49.0% of the snaps defended by the Auburn defense during the first-half, went for 2-yards or less. It increased to 55.6% during the second half of games. During the last 6 games of the season, 43.7% of the snaps defended by the Auburn defense during the first-half, went for 2-yards or less. It decreased to 42.9% during the second half.
The top-5 play-makers on offense this season based on impact-plays were: Cameron Artis Payne (26), Duke Williams (22), Nick Marshall (20), Sammie Coates (14) and Quan Bray (12). Injuries to Williams and Coates took away from Auburn's explosiveness this season.
During the first 6 games of the season, Nick Marshall averaged 82.0 yards rushing per game on 6.6 yards per attempt. During the final 7 games of the season, Marshall averaged only 43.7 yards per rush on 3.9 yards per carry. The read-option was nowhere close to last season. During the final 7 games of the 2013 season, Marshall & Mason averaged 257.6 YPG on 6.09 YPC. During the final 7 games of 2014, Marshall & CAP combined for 179.3 YPG on 4.92 YPC.
Ricardo Louis is a player to watch for in 2015. With the departure of Sammie Coates, Auburn will need him to become a consistent playmaker. During the first 6 games of the season, Louis had 15 offensive touches for 118-yards. During the final 7 games of the season, Louis had 22 offensive touches for 353-yards. Of his 9 impact plays on the season, 7 came during the second-half of the season.
Duke Williams was No. 12 nationally in generating pass-receptions of 15-yards or more and Sammie Coates was No. 21. The Auburn offense simply wasn't the same without both healthy and on the field together.
During Auburn's 8 victories this season, the Tigers compiled a pass-rating of 157.1 on first-down and only 117.2 during their 5 defeats. From 1992-2014 Auburn has compiled a pass-rating of 136.0 on first-down and was only 134.9 in 2014. Of Auburn's 332 passes on the season, only 96 (28.6%) came on first down, which was dead last nationally. The national average was 37.9%, which means Nick Marshall was forced to throw more often when the opponent wanted him to, rather than when Malzahn wanted him to throw. I expect that percentage to change drastically with Jeremy Johnson at quarterback.
In terms of the game day report cards, the Auburn offense had a passing grade in 11 of 13 games, the defense 6 in 13 games and special teams, 7 of 13 games. Last season the offense had a passing grade in 12 of 14 games, the defense 7 of 14 games and special teams 13 of 14 games. Overall the offense improved to 74.9% from 74.6% in 2013. The defense dropped to 47.7% from 49.3% in 2013 and special teams took the biggest dive to 53.4% from 71.7% in 2013.
During the last 3 games of the season Auburn allowed 3.93 yards per rush during the first-half and 7.58 yards per attempt during the second-half.
How vital are impact plays? During Auburn's 73 scoring drives this season, 63 involved at least 1 play of 15-yards or more during the possession.
Last season the Auburn defense registered 32 sacks and 13 interceptions. This season despite only 20 sacks, Auburn intercepted 22 passes. One can only imagine how many picks Auburn could have totaled in 2014 with a more consistent pass-rush.
During the first 5 games of the season, the Auburn defense forced a "3 & out", 45 percent of the time. During the final 8 games of the season, it dropped to only 18 percent.
During the first 5 games of the season, the Auburn defense allowed 24-yards per possession and a TD every 37.2 snaps. During the final 8 games of the season, the defense allowed 36-yards per possession and a TD every 16.6 snaps defended.
During the first 7 games of the season, Auburn scored 75 points from their opponent's turnovers. During the final 6 games of the season, Auburn scored only 24 points off of turnovers.
Rarely does a player find immediate success after making a position change at the collegiate level. Johnathan "Rudy" Ford moved to safety this season, finishing the year as Auburn's leading tackler with 93 stops. He also had 2.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions and 1 forced-fumble. Look for him to continue to grow into his position under Will Muschamp.
Rudy Ford was No. 14 in the SEC with 7.15 tackles per game. Cassanova McKinzy was No. 16 and Kris Frost was No. 17. McKinzy was also No. 14 in the SEC with 11 tackles for loss. Fifteen SEC defensive linemen had more tackles for loss than Auburn's leader, Montravius Adams (8).
Cameron Artis-Payne had some major shoes to fill, replacing Tre Mason. The senior RB, responded with an All-SEC season, leading the conference in rushing and No. 2 in rushing TD's. CAP's 123.7 yards per game was the 5th best average in school history. Cameron Artis-Payne was No. 15 nationally in yards per game.
Quarterback Nick Marshall improved his passer-rating from 143.2 in 2013 to 150.8. His 150.8 rating is the 4th highest rated performance among the 37 Auburn quarterbacks to attempt at least 150 passes during a season. His TD ratio of 1 every 14.6 attempts was 5th best in school history. Marshall was No. 33 in pass-efficiency during 2013, improving to No. 15 his senior year.
The Auburn offense finished No. 13 in run-offense and No. 9 in pass-efficiency offense. The Tigers were No. 17 in total-offense and No. 26 in scoring-offense.
Based on yards per game, yards per play, points per game, TD ratio and strength of schedule, the 2014 Auburn offense is No. 3 among the past 60 Auburn offensive units. The 2010 offense was No. 1 with a 213.5 rating, the 2013 offense was No. 2 with a 209.9 rating and the 2014 unit had a rating of 199.6.
From 1970-2014, Auburn has compiled a record of 204-6-0, when scoring at least 30 points during regulation. Four of the 6 losses have come during the past 2 seasons.
From 2009-2014 (79 games), Auburn has allowed 26 PPG, 398.3 YPG and 163.2 yards rushing per game. Of those 79 games, it includes 26 losses, where Auburn allowed 36 PPG, 446.5 YPG and 222.6 yards rushing per game. The second installment of Will Muschamp's defense cannot start soon enough.
The 2014 season marks the 12th time Auburn has closed a season with only 1 win during their last 5 games of the season since 1950. The Auburn coaching staff has their work cut out for them as Auburn followed up the previous 11 seasons with a win percentage of .622 the following year.
Looking at only FBS competition, Auburn's 2014 schedule ended up being the 6th most difficult in school history, minus the result of the "Auburn" game.
10 of Auburn's 13 opponents this season (76.9%) were FBS programs that finished the season with a winning record. It was the 3rd highest percentage of winning opponents faced during a season from 1950-2014. The 1983 team holds the highest percentage (83.3%).
So what happened to the 2014 Auburn defense? During the first 5 games of the season, Auburn faced opponents that averaged 402.0 YPG, averaging 30.4 PPG. The Auburn defense held them to 24% below their yardage average and 53% below their scoring average. During their last 7 FBS games, Auburn faced offenses that averaged 463.3 YPG, while scoring 35.1 PPG. Auburn allowed those 7 teams to gain 5.5% more yardage than their average, while scoring 7.7% more than the opponent's average. In a nutshell, the competition was better during the second-half of the season, but Auburn's production percentages should not have collapsed as much as it did.
Time to move onto 2015 and Happy New Year!

Staff

Staff

 

Where Does Auburn Look to Replace Offensive Production in 2015

The Auburn Realist: Overview Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter! By now you know that Sammie has declared for the NFL. Am I surprised? No. Did I think he should stay? Well, you can read my article about why I thought he and Duke should return for 2015. With Sammie's departure, all eyes look to #1. To me, he is a more NFL ready player than Sammie and many project him as a 1st rounder. Let's assume for a minute that Duke does declare for the NFL. By a quick estimation, losing the seniors in addition to these two would be devastating to the future of the 2015 Auburn Tiger team. That's over 6,700 yards and 46 TDs from a total of 8600 and 51 TDs. That's a 78% loss. The last time we saw such a departure of talent on the Plains was the 2011 draft. Auburn lost Cam Newton, Darvin Adams, Terrell Zachery, Mario Fannin and many parts of it's terrific offensive line. That added up to roughly 75% of the Tiger's offensive production. The key difference lies in the 4 offensive line starters the 2010 team lost, more than the future 2015 squad will have lost. However the key cog, Dismukes, that the 2014 line will lose weighs much heavier . In the last 3 years, we have seen the talent and execution split between Dismukes and his backups. All in all, the losses between these two squads is an even push, though I do recognize that you can't easily dismiss what Dismukes meant to this team. After all, he is the only player that touches the ball 100% of the time. Last year, I write that he would be more important to the Tigers than Tre Mason. The difference relies on the returning talent. The 2010 squad returned or replaced a fair amount of talent. Guys like Greg Robinson, Dyer, Lutz, McCalebb, and Emory Blake made their way into the NFL (minus Dyer). Yet, the Tiger's were a one pony show with a predictable running game between Dyer and McCalebb. The Tigers passed for nearly 1,000 yards less in 2011 (the two starting QBs combined) than Cam threw for in 2010. And, to be fair, much of that yardage was against inferior competition. Down the stretch, the Tigers were simply terrible in all offensive facets. While I expect Malzahn to have a good offense next year, without the 2014 playmakers, what can we expect? Click HERE and read my thoughts!

Best5zach

Best5zach

 

#StatTiger: Muschamp Factor

From 1997-2014, the Auburn defense has held their opponent to 11.3% below the opponent's seasonal average in yardage per game.
From 2009-2014, the Auburn defense has held their opponent to 2.9% below their seasonal average.
During the Will Muschamp era (2006-2007), the Auburn defense held their opponent to 20.3% below the opponent's season average.
During Will Muschamp's final season at Auburn, the Tiger defense had the opponent to 24.4% below the opponent's season average in yardage per game. This was the 2nd best performance by an Auburn defense from 1997-2014.
From 1997-2014, Auburn held their opponent to 26.4% below the opponent's scoring average for the season.
From 2009-2014, Auburn held their opponent to 13.9% below the opponent's scoring average for the season.
With Will Muschamp as Auburn's defensive coordinator, the Tigers held their opponent to 43.7% below the opponent's scoring average.
Will Muschamp's final Auburn defense held their opponent to 45.5% below the opponent's scoring average, the second best performance by an Auburn defense from 1997-2014.
During Muschamp's tenure as Auburn's defensive coordinator, the Tigers faced 9 teams that average over 400-yards per game. Those 9 teams averaged 430-yards per game but were held to an average of 315-yards per game against Auburn.
During Muschamp's tenure as Auburn's defensive coordinator, the Tigers faced 11 teams that average over 30-points per game. Those 11 teams average 34.8 points per game but were held to an average of 17.7 points per game against Auburn.
From 1992-2014, the Auburn defense held their opponent to 17.9% below the opponent's rushing average.
From 2009-2014, the Auburn defense held their opponent to 8.4% below the opponent's rushing average.
During Muschamp's tenure as Auburn's defensive coordinator, the Auburn defense held their opponent to 19.3% below the opponent's rushing average. His 2007 defense held the opponent to 26.1% below the opponent's rushing average.
From 1992-2004, the Auburn pass-defense held their opponent to a pass-efficiency average of 117.5.
From 2009-2014, the Auburn pass-defense held their opponent to a pass-efficiency average of 130.3.
Will Muschamp's pass-defense at Auburn held their opponent to a pass-efficiency average of 109.4. His 2007 pass-defense allowed a pass-rating of 104.3, the 4th best pass-defense from 1992-2014.
War Eagle and Welcome Back Coach Muschamp!

Staff

Staff

 

#StatTiger: Bowl Game Boom

Depending on pending injuries or weather, I would expect the Auburn offense to play well against Wisconsin. Gus Malzahn has coached in 10 combined Bowl games and Conference Championships at the collegiate level. During those 10 games, his offense averaged 498.6 YPG and 39.9 PPG. His teams went 7-3 during those 10 outings. This includes 6 games at Auburn, where his offense averaged 518.8 YPG and 41.5 PPG. This includes a 5-1 mark at Auburn. Auburn will check in with Nick Marshall at QB, CAP at RB, along with Sammie Coates, Duke Williams and Quan Bray at WR. All five players will likely be playing their last game as an Auburn Tiger, motivated to put on a show one last time, wearing the orange and blue. This doesn't include the services of Chad Slade, Reese Dismukes, CJ Uzomah, Brandon Fulse and Corey Grant, who will also want to go out with a bang. During the last 26 games, the Auburn offense has averaged 496-yards and 38 PPG, along with 296-yards rushing per game. This also includes 80 offensive plays of 30+ yards and 253 plays of 15+ yards.

Staff

Staff

 

#StatTiger: Spotlight on the Deep Pass

The Wisconsin defense has been very solid all year up until the B10 Championship. Despite their major beat down at the hands of the Buckeyes, the Badger defense is still No. 4 in total-defense. Some of their success on defense has to do with the caliber of offenses Wisconsin faced but they did hold their opponent to 23 percent below their yardage average for the season. One area Auburn should be able to exploit is the Badger pass-defense. The Wisconsin pass-defense is No. 108 nationally allowing big pass-plays (25+) every 12.4 pass attempts. The Auburn pass-offense is No. 7 nationally in generating big pass-plays every 9.7 pass attempts. The play... Against Alabama, Auburn faced a very good defense that was exceptional against the run. Gus Malzahn's plan of attack was to challenge the UAT secondary deep, which often played man-coverage. The plan was solid and the Auburn offense did a very good job executing the game plan. Nick Marshall was 6 of 9, throwing the ball deep for 272-yards and 2 touchdowns. On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 12 from the UAT 34-yd line. Auburn comes out in a 4-WR with Sammie Coates and Duke Williams split on the boundary side. Nick Marshall will play-action with Cameron Artis-Payne, while reading the boundary safety. Coates and Williams break off the line, running vertical routes. Williams will cut inside on a deep square-in, while Coates runs a fly-route. The boundary safety commits to Williams over the middle, leaving Coates 1 on 1 with the corner. Marshall delivers a perfectly thrown ball that Coates is able to haul in for the touchdown. Play #2: This is basically the same play, though circumstances are different. Auburn faces a 2nd & 3 from their own 32-yard line with under 1:30 remaining in the first-half. Once again Auburn comes out in a 4-WR set with Coates and Williams aligned to the boundary side. At the snap, the two WR's run vertical routes with the boundary safety committing to the deep pass over the middle (Williams). Once again, Sammie Coates has the corner beat 1 on 1 and Marshall hangs a deep ball that Coates is able to run under for the touchdown.

Staff

Staff

 

Why Sammie and Duke Should Return for 2015

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here. The Auburn Realist: Overview Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter! Let me preface this by saying.... OF COURSE I WANT THEM TO RETURN, ARE YOU DAFT? I mean, who wouldn't want to see them come back? I guess that's the problem with being a fan of a team. Though we want to see our guys succeed in life, we want to win more. And, if having a certain player gives you a better chance at winning, then you want him on the field...even if it means millions to him. We are selfish, by nature. While both of these guys are going to get to the NFL in some capacity, it is important for them to really consider what one year really means. It's a complicated pros/cons deal. But it seems that many players make complete blunders of this. They are blinded by money, many times. Now, I am sure that all the coaches are trying their very best to do what's right by the player, but I am really having a hard time with justifying their bolt to the NFL this year. Consider this: In 2014, a record number of underclassmen declared for the NFL. 107 kids from the college ranks thought that their draft stock wasn't going to rise with the addition of a last year. Of those 107, 45 went undrafted. Now, going undrafted isn't a bad thing. In a lot of cases, being able to hit the free agent market is a better path. Being drafted makes you subject to the pay scale. And, those late draft positions don't pay well. Yet, most of those 45 still didn't make an NFL roster. Let's consider what that means for a second. The average football fan doesn't pay attention to the hierarchy of the NFL draft. The money is in the first 2 rounds. Clowney, the overall #1, signed for 5 Mil a year for 4 years and a 14 Mil signing bonus. Bridgewater, the last pick of the 1st round, made roughly 1.5 Mil a year with a 3.3 Mil signing bonus. After that, well, it isn't as rosy as you would think. As I mentioned, by the time the 3rd day of the draft roles around, most players DON'T want to hear their name called, because free agent pay is much better in some cases. And, you have the freedom to play where you want. Let's compare the 1st and last picks for the Texans. Clowney makes the aforementioned 5 Mil a year. Lonnie Ballentine, the Texan's 7th rounder comes out for under $700,000 a year.That's a HUGE drop-off. Consider the receiver position in the 2014 draft. This group of receivers was deemed to be particular deep and talented, featuring 5 first round picks. Sammy Watkins was the first receiver taken as the 4th overall, followed by Mike Evans at 7, Odell Beckam at 12, Brandon Cooks at 20, and Kelvin Benjamin at 28th. Where will this year's class stack up against last years? Would Sammie and Duke stack up against these players? First, let's think about a similar situation that we might be familiar with. In 2010, Darvin Adams emerged as one, if not the best, deep threat in the country. The fear of the Newton/Dyer express frequently set up some big plays through the air, benefiting Adams. Adams had 963 yards and 7 TDs on 52 catches. That's a 18.5 yard average. He also benefited from being on some big time stages. Adams declared early from the draft and went undrafted, though he did get scooped up by the Panthers for a bit (no doubt in thanks to his good buddy, Cam) before being cut. He never made an NFL roster. Who did make it? Randall Cobb, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, and Torrey Smith, just to name a few. How was he compared to these guys? Cobb is a dynamic play maker who does everything well. Green and Jones can and will catch the ball across the middle, both are as physical specimens as you will find, and they are unbeatable in the vertical passing game. Torrey Smith is somewhere in between these guys and has become a legend in Baltimore. Adams had flash and speed. He did some amazing things, but all of these guys were polished, NFL receivers. Jones and Green in particular absolutely DOMINATED in the SEC against the nation's best defenses. Did Adams do that? Could he? No. Was he polished as a route runner? Did he physically dominate defenders? Laughably, no. Sound familiar? Sammie Coates is widely know for his deep threat ability, having been near the top in both of the last 2 years. He averages almost 24 yards a catch on his 30 touches for 717 yards and 4 TDs. His physical attributes are off the charts in almost every category. But, is he a first rounder? I have read a lot of reports where the NFL experts have gauged him anywhere between a very late 1st rounder to a mid round guy. I respectfully disagree with their evaluation. Receivers in the NFL have to be complete packages. Sure, some turn out to be one thing or the other, but when they come into the league, they have to be able to do it all. To me, Sammie struggles with the very essence of being an NFL receiver. Can you consistently run a good route to beat an NFL corner? Can you catch the ball in traffic? Coates has been unable to do either of these. His average per catch is ballooned because he struggled in the short and intermediate passing game, to put it politely. Even against SEC corners, he was unable to shake them with good route running, leading to knockdowns. And, in many cases, he had outright drops. In several key matchups in 2014, he had multiple drops in single games. Against Texas A&M, in particular, he had at least 2 critical drops. In the NFL, if you have multiple drops in a game, they find someone to replace you. Eli Manning struggled mightily in the first half of 2014, namely because of the inconsistency of some of his veteran players. It led to an increased role for Beckam Jr, who has become the leading receiver for the giants. Why? He runs polished routes and he catches the underneath passes, in traffic ON TOP of his ability to make great plays in the vertical passing game. And, let's be real. When it comes to vertical passing attacks, there are some guys that are almost solely that. Is Sammie a beater deep threat than Mike Evans or Kelvin Benjamin, two guys he has shared the field with? No. Additionally, Sammie was hurt for much of the 2014 campaign. Instead of getting healthy, it was obvious that he pushed the limits, and it showed. He was a shell of himself in his first 3 games back. Only against the Tide in the Iron Bowldid he look like the receiver we know him to be. If there is one thing that scares NFL scouts, it's injuries. Andre Williams lead the college ranks in rushing while at Boston College. He was absolutely unstoppable and was a Heisman finalist. But, he sustained a knee injury late in the season. He was drafted in the 4th round as the 10th running back taken after seeming to be a late first rounder or early second rounder like Bishop Sankey. Duke Williams entered Auburn under the auspices that he was a 1-and-done player. I didn't disagree with that before the year or during it. He possess all of the skills that NFL scouts drool after. He is big. He has ability. He catches everything. In a world where we let recruiting sites sell us championships, he is one of the very few that I have seen be 100% as-advertised. I was sold on him at A-Day and remained so throughout the remainder of the 2014 season. The only tough game he had was against Bama where he couldn't secure some tough throws in the endzone. But, he looks every bit the 1st-Round pick that he will eventually be. But I don't think he will get that this year. Why? Production. The Auburn passing attack never materialized as expected in 2014. Other than Marshall's stellar Iron Bowl, he didn't light up the scoreboards. Sadly, he never met the goals outlined by the coaches entering the season. Instead, the Tigers remained a run first team and Marshall was fairly unstoppable when he needed to be. It's a sad fact that Duke Williams draft stock was hurt by nothing he did. The inability for him to have a 1,000 yard season, as many predicted, sets him behind many other receivers will similar skillsets. Amari Cooper, Justin Hardy, Rashaad Green and Nelson Agholor all posted at least 500 more yards and double (aside from Green) TDs. Duke isn't in the Top 50 of any statistics in receiving. On that list of 50, I can point to several other players who aren't quite the player Duke is, but would be higher picks (on my board) because of their production AND health. I see Jalen Strong from Arizona State, Josh Harper from Fresno and Leonte Carroo from Rutgers. Though he wasn't quite as limited as Sammie in his injury, Duke did miss significant time with his injuries. Against Alabama, he wasn't anything more than a checkdown or back of the endzone target. In the latter, his health kept him from making plays that I felt he would have made a month before. On the subject of injuries, one can't deny that the prospect of becoming injured during a return campaign is a nightmare. Just look at Marcus Lattimore from South Carolina. He returned for his last year and broke his leg. He went from a first round lock to a 4th rounder, and he was lucky to get that. So, it is imperative for these players to weigh the risk and reward in regards to injury. But, it doesn't always work in the negative. With Coates and Duke nagging injuries, a year to become healthy could pay drastic dividends in proving that they are 100% instead of an injury liability. In addition, the coaching staff have made them a fiscal priority by getting multi-million dollar insurance plans in the event that they drop in draft status as seniors. It is a fair argument that many underclassmen pay attention to returning teammates when making their decisions. I have to at least assume that Darvin Adams looked to who would be his new QB and who would be blocking for that QB and realize that the chances of improving his stock may depend on them. In his case, he lost a Heisman winner and all interior linemen. I know many players do just this. A running back considers his returning line. A receiver considers the returning QB. All consider coaching changes. In this case, Auburn does lose a Rimington winner in Dismukes, a player that I felt was NFL-bound from the minute he set foot on campus. Auburn losses the unstoppable runnerin Marshall and the SEC first teamer, Cameron Artis-Payne. All Auburn fans know what I am about to say: Auburn has perhaps the most NFL-ready arm in it's history waiting to start in 2015 in Jeremy Johnson. Though Auburn has plenty of on-paper talent at running back, it is short of experienced players. The graduation of the Bray, who became the chain-mover in 2014, leaves 34 catches(4 more than Coates, I might add) to be filled. What's that mean? A pass-happy attack is on the horizon for Auburn. As they are now to my untrained eye, Duke would be a 3rd round pick and I don't think Coates would be drafted. I do admit that I sometimes struggle with how players continue to be drafted on measurables alone, which Sammie would absolutely dominate. In the end, both of these guys need to prove that they are healthy and can stay healthy. Let's not kid ourselves, the needle can make anyone healthy for the combine. It may get you drafted, but it won't get you on a roster. Both players need to show more production in order to establish their elite abilities by coming back for 2015. They have the best arm that Auburn has had that I can remember coming under center and a game plan that will certainly favor them. Amari Cooper WILL be a 1st rounder and neither of these guys would be. Why? is it because Cooper has ability they don't have? No. It's because Lane Kiffin made him the focus of his offense. At zero point in either of these two players Auburn careers have they become the focus of their offense. That will undoubtedly change in 2015. Technically speaking, Coates in particular needs another year to work on his skills. He struggled catching anything that wasn't a deep ball and that will not work in the NFL, at least not for a player that isn't 6'5" or bigger (a la Benjamin and Evans). Duke needs more time working on his run blocking, as he was flagged on many occasions for holding. You may have noticed that in run situations like 3rd and short, Duke was almost always out in favor of Ray or Davis, the preferred run blockers. Lastly, though this year's receiver draft class won't be as deep as the 2014 draft class, it will certainly still be very good. There are at least 5 players on on the big board that have the skillsets, size, and production that will keep Coates and Williams out of the first 2 rounds. What does that mean in terms on dollars? Sammy Watkins pulled down 20 Mil over 4 years amd almost 13 Mil in bonus. Donte Moncrief was the first receiver in the 3rd round and secured almost 3 Mil over 4 years. That's 17 MILLION dollars difference. To me, neither player can hurt their stock by returning. Duke has the lowest upside, as I think that he has proven himself aside from production, which is really want scouts want. They want the most data points possible. Sammie Coates has an amazing upside but it comes at a price of returning to work on this game. Both are hurt and that certainly could hurt this year's stock. Returning next can forgive that. The only downside to returning, other than NOT having millions THIS year is a potential injury. However, the estimated plan is around 10 million for each, just assuming they drop a few rounds.So, come out this year and get stuck making middle of the road pay, possibly at a place you don't want...or give it one more year and lock up a 20 Million dollar contract by being taken in the first round? Do I want them to come back from selfishness? Absolutely. Losing the seniors in addition to these two would be devastating to the future of the 2015 Auburn Tiger team. That's over 6,700 yards and 46 TDs from a total of 8600 and 51 TDs. That's a 78% loss. While I expect Malzahn to have a good offense next year, without these guys, it won't be possible to be as great. However, I want them to achieve their dreams, which means playing ball in the NFL. However, it is almost a certainty that 80% of what they hear tells them to declare early. The pressures of friends and family, on top of being an instant millionaire, are heavier beyond anything I can imagine. But, these guys need to listen the voices of those who know. I don't claim to be one of those, but it seems to me that both would benefit from returning in 2015.

Best5zach

Best5zach

 

The Outback Bowl Preview

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here. The Auburn Realist: Overview Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter! Find the whole post HERE! Still fuming over the fiasco that was the 2014 Iron Bowl. Don't worry. Me too. And while I managed to limit my complete and utter aggravation in the 2014 Iron Bowl Review, just trust me that it's there. I mean, how could it not? Don't you just think about any of ALL THESE PLAYS that happened...or didn't happen...and say "Why?" and "What if?" "Why did we throw a behind the line screen to a true freshman on the first play?" "Why didn't we take another shot from inside the 10 before halftime?" "Why can't Ellis Johnson do ANYTHING RIGHT?" "Why can't anyone cover #9?" Sure. Me too. No, the Tigers didn't make it to 11-1 and a berth in the SEC Championship. No, they didn't Roll the Tide in the House of Cards that is Bryant-Denny. But it's over now and the Auburn Tigers are headed to Tampa to take on the Wisconsin Badgers. All things considered, this is the best bowl game Auburn could have hoped for, following the....dissatisfying....conclusion of the 2014, which we previewed in our WAAAYY Too Early Predictionsway back when. This season has all the flavor of the 2003 squad that went on to play in the 2004 Music City Bowl, which I attended with about 10 of my friends against the.....you guessed it.....Wisconsin Badgers, which I predicted to be my surprise team of the year in my College Football Top 10 Teams in 2014. How do I feel about that right now? Well, Bucky didn't finish in the Top 10 as I expected, and while they did lose to LSU, as predicted, I didn't see the loss to North Western. Don't worry, no one else did either. I did expect them to lose to Oh-Hi-Oh in the Big 10 Championship, though. 59-0? No. I didn't see THAT. Most of you know all about Melvin Gordon, who has been perhaps the most consistent running back in the country with his 2336 yards, 26 TDs and setting NCAA records with his amazing performance against Nebraska. Most of you probably don't know much about Clement, who backs up Gordon, and has 800 yards on his own, or anything about McEvoy the QB, and his 500 yards and 6 TDs he has added. Oh, sure, they don't have much of a passing attack, which is 1961 yards if you add all the QBs together, good for 119th in the nation. And why would you when you are 4th in the nation with 314 rush yards per game? Oh, it might also be that your defense is the 13th best in the nation at allowing only 20 points per game. That's all the easy stuff to talk about. The stuff everyone knows. Let's talk about some things that matter. Wisconsin played 4 ranked teams all year, only 1 of those a Top 10. Of those teams, only 1 team had either a balanced or pass heavy attack, that being the Ohio State squad, who put up 59 points. Yet, it can't go without notice that even though Jones threw for 257 yards and 3 TDs, the Buckeyes RB, Elliot, ran for an astounding 220 yards and 2 TDs. LSU, Nebraska, and Minnesota featured something very similar , which lead to a 1-2 record or a 1-3 if you count Northwestern. All 3 of these teams are run heavy or run dependent teams with at least one dynamic running back. Nebraska had Abdullah, LSU has Hilliard and Fourenette, and Minnesota has Cobb. Additionally, Northwestern, the other team that beat Bucky, is a run heavy team and Justin Jackson the NW RB rolled up 160 yards. Now, I know you can point to the Nebraska game and say that Bucky handled Nebraska and Minnesota fairly easily. Bo Pelini is currently without a job because, in losses to Wisconsin and Minnesota, he limited Abdullah's carries to 18 and 20, despite the fact that Abdullah is one of the few NFL-ready backs. I know this, because Abdullah was on my fantasy team and I watched both of these games and he abandoned the run almost immediately. Some of that is due to Abdullah being banged up weeks before in a tasty matchup against Purdue. The Gophers were in the game until the end and their leading RB, Cobb, still ran for 120 yards and Leidner, the QB, ran for another 50. Unfortunately, the Gophers aren't too good on defense(34th) and they couldn't shut down the Wisconsin rushing attack. Now, if you throw out the outlier in Nebraska, you see that the path to beating the Badgers is hitting them with a formidable rushing attack while stopping theirs. How ironic that the thing they are the best at is the thing they are susceptible to. Luckily, few teams in the Big 10 are any good at rushing or stopping the rush. And, if you have a multi-threat QB...well....you can do what Ohio State did. So, Wisconsin has to travel to Tampa to take on our Auburn Tigers. Will you be there? Well, we will. I'm about 5 minutes from ordering my tickets. I look at 4 games on the schedule and ask myself "who is the Auburn offense?" In the losses to Mississippi State, TAMU, UGA and the game against Samford, you left the game wondering what you had just seen. Samford comes after a vicious thrashing by Georgia and 7 days before the Iron Bowl, so I think you can throw that out. Plus, take into consideration that until halftime adjustments, former Auburn staff members, now on Samfords staff, were undoubtedly catching the calls. What's in common with these other games? How about first play turovers? Against State, TAMU, and Alabama, Auburn has had a first play turnover. Only against Alabama did Auburn right the ship, going on to set offensive records in a loss at BDS. Which brings us to the real reason that Auburn is 8-4. They have the 60th rated defense in the nation. Had it not been from some stout play in the first 5 games, it would be dramatically worse. After all, Auburn's defense behind now-fired Ellis Johnson, allowed 30+ points in 6 of it's last 7 games on the way to the worst statistical performance in Auburn history. Think about that for a second. Despite the best recruiting that Auburn has ever had over the last 5 years, this group will finish as the worst in Auburn history. Well, Johnson is gone (and don't let the door hit you) and Auburn is left speculating on who will lead the Tigers (or is it Tiggers? :-p ) on defense. I am not sure what history says about interim or new coaches in bowl games, but we can make some assumptions. 1) According to the recruiting sites, Auburn has recruited very well. Even on defense. 2) Throughout the year, Johnson was unable to get any pressure on the QB, despite who the Tigers were playing. Tipping my belief that he was being outcoached through game film breakdowns. All I have to do is point at the Iron Bowl. At no point was any attempt made to stop Amari Cooper. Johnson went in his last presser and tried to say he "rolled coverage" to Cooper. No he didn't. This is the same guy who said in the last weeks that he didn't care WHAT fans though of his coaching. That is the line of a guy who has given up. 3) Without the ability to breakdown film, it is impossible to gameplan for new coaches/players. Time and time again you see a backup look like a star, or an interim coach (USC offense post-Kiffin) look like a genius. Gameplanning is much of the battle, and if a new coordinator comes in, it will be tough for Wisconsin to gameplan. So, with the terrible defense that the Tigers have put on display, and the 1st play turnover trends that the offense has shown, it's pretty obvious to see WHY Auburn is 8-4. Auburn's Offense vs Wisconsin Defense Auburn had been able to move the ball on essentially everyone. Aside from an amazing performance by UGA, no one has been able to shut the Tigers down other than the Tigers themselves. Marshall will end his career as possible the best....and most unappreciated QBs as a Tiger, despite being Unstoppable for pretty much the entire year. He has thrown for 2300 yards, 18 TDs with 7 INTs. Of those TDs, many of them were batted balls. He has run for 11 TDs and 780 yards. But, this playmakers have had fumblitis for much of the year, which have limited his bottom lines. Cameron Artis-Payne has rushed for 1482 yards. While it was impossible to break Mason's record from last year, 1400 puts him in the thick with the long legacy of terrific Auburn backs. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry with 11 TDs. This Auburn offense isn't as polished or dominating as the 2013 unit, but it makes up for it with its diversity and balance, thanks to the addition of Duke Williams and much improved play from Quan Bray, whom I thought was the key cog to making this offense hum, way back in my Post A-Day thoughts. Though we have spoken briefly about the struggles of the Wisconsin defense, we do have a solid data point to refer to. In 2011, Gary Andersen, then coach of the Utah State Aggies, was able to stuff the Auburn rushing attack, which by years end, was the only thing the Tigers really had. He limited the Tigers to just 78 total yards and forced Barret Trotter to play his best game of this career to throw for 261 yards and 3 TDs. Surely I don't have to remind you of who the offensive coordinator on the Auburn sideline was. I do admit that despite losing Andersen 2 years ago, Utah State has maintained one of the best run defenses in the nation. What will be compelling will be whether Duke Williams and/or Sammie Coates will declare for the NFL draft and how that will affect the play calling in this game. Will they be heavily showcased? Will some of the outbound seniors get some love? Or will newcomers have coming out parties? I said it a few weeks ago, but the personnel groupings throughout the year have tipped the play caller's hand, at least to me. Ray, Davis, and Stevens are recivers that didn't see much time and when they did, were largely used in run blocking. Yet, whenever these guys had the rock thrown their way, they took advantage. I can't remember a drop between the 3, which I can't say the same about some of the starters. This would be a prime time to introduce them to starting roles, assuming Coates and Williams declare. I fully expect number 44 to get the first touch, this go around. I will say this, CAP will have his time to shine at the Senior Bowl, his Pro Day, and the combine. With Roc Thomas having his redshirt pulled, I wouldn't be surprised that he becomes the feature back against the Badgers. Either way, I don't suspect Auburn to have much of a problem scoring points as long as that first play isn't a turnover. Advantage Auburn Auburn's Defense vs Wisconsin Offense I can't remember a defense in the SEC who has had such a regression. Sure, there have been defenses who have lost starters and stars from year to year. I have seen defenses be exposed midway through the season. I have not seen a defense that looks totally incapable of keeping up with an offense. It all starts up front, of course. Despite losing Dee Ford and Carl Lawson, whom I expected to be the lead man in my 4 Horsemen of the Sackocalypse, Auburn has been unable to get ANYTHING going up front against any level of competition. Not only did it surprise me, but it has surprised even the media who had made guys like Gabe Wright, whom I wrote about as THE force to be reckoned with, their All-SEC pick, just to see him be limited to a handful of behind the line stops. That lack of production forced Johnson to do some things to bring pressure. Namely, constant edge and/or LB blitzes. B ringing 6 and 7 men forced the Auburn secondary to play man to man, usually with their backs to the ball. Despite that, Auburn had a star emerge in Jonathan Jones, who lead the SEC in pass defense efficiency. He broke up 12 passes and had 6 INTs. Aside from Ole Miss' Golson who had 9, he lead the rest of the SEC with 6. However, guys like Therezie were forced into roles that limited their play-making ability, despite being an impact player in 2013 as Star 27. The very definition of the star is a hybrid player capable of playing in run and pass defense, though not necessarily built for either, but thrives on being mobile and free to make plays. Therezie wasn't given that ability this year as he was a pure reactionary player at times. What can you really say about Auburn's defense other than it is the statistically the worst in Auburn history? It made regression throughout the season and much of that seemed to come from gameplanning. Johnson seemed to want to force opposing offenses to adapt to him instead of taking away their strengths. We all saw how that worked. On the flip side, the Badgers have a Heisman finalist who is trying to make a statement to close out his college career before going to the NFL. What scares me about Melvin Gordon is that he has the ability and a coaching staff willing to give him as many touches as it takes to win a game. We saw it against Nebraska as he set multiple records. When Wisconsin identifies a weakness, they will exploit it and you will not see them trying to outsmart themselves, which I can't say the same about the Auburn coaching staff. Outside of Gordon, the Badgers only have 1 legitimate passing threat. Erickson has 730 yards, 3 TDs on 51 catches, which is double the next man. The next man is Arneson who has 27 for 350 and 4 TDs. Much like the Auburn team of 2013, these receivers are not used for possession but for play action pass. The good news is, Jones has shown that he can win those 50/50 battles, as opposed to Mincy, who has been picked on. The issue is that Johnson's 4-2-5 relegates corners to specific sides of the field, not on players. So, Wisconsin has the ability to motion into the formation and matchup they would like. Since Auburn hasn't named a coordinator, it is impossible to know who Auburn will try to limit Erickson. It is also possible that after his 3 INT performance in the 59-0 beatdown against the Buckeyes, Stave may be benched for the more dual threat McEvoy, who started ahead of Stave. McEvoy struggled against LSU in the opener, tossing 2 TDs without a TD, so whoever starts against the Tigers has had struggles this year. The problem is, I don't think Auburn can stop Gordon and the Badgers who are eager to prove themselves after getting waxed. Advantage Winsconsin Special Teams Gaglianone is 55 for 57 on extra points and 17 for 22 in field goals. He has a range of 50+ yards where he has gone 2/3 over 50 and 3/4 from 40-49. Carlson is perfect on extra points and 17 for 21 in field goals. He has struggled outside of 40 yards where he is 4/7. Auburn has shown flashes with Bray as a punt returner earlier in the year, but has struggled to do anything down the stretch. The Auburn kickoff returns have been a non-factor. Advantage Wisconsin Conclusion Auburn has opened as the favorite in this bowl game. It is an interesting matchup, for sure. Preparation time almost always benefits the offenses, but I can't help but think that Auburn's defense will use it wisely and come out improved. Honestly, how could they now? To me, this game is a pick 'em. Who gets the ball first and who gets it last? Auburn travels well and has history of winning in Florida. Auburn has won against North Western in Tamp, but did lose against the Badgers across the state in Orlando. The series between these two are tied at 1-1-1. That's right. The 1931 matchup was a tie. I saw the matchup in 2003 in person and Auburn won. I am going to this one as well, so I can't help but think that will turn the tide. Auburn wins 45-43

Best5zach

Best5zach