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aubiefifty

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  1. al.com Isaac Okoro wins SEC award in Week 6 Updated Dec 09, 2019;Posted Dec 09, 2019 2 minutes In Auburn’s overtime win against Furman, freshman Isaac Okoro opened the scoring in extra minutes and then iced the game with two free throws. The SEC recognized his performance by naming him the SEC freshman of the week. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound forward had a career-best performance against Furman, with 18 points and nine rebounds. He also added three assists and a block and went 4-4 from the foul line. He was one rebound away from his first double-double of his college career. As Auburn struggled to get its shots to fall, it fell behind by 14 points. Okoro helped pace the comeback. His defense helped Auburn go on an 8-0 run, and his and-1 made it a one-point game. When the Tigers went into overtime, Okoro laid the ball in for the first points in extra minutes. He scored a team-high six points in overtime. With one second left on the clock, Okoro hit two free throws to increase the Tigers lead to 81-78. The Paladins couldn’t hit the buzzer beater, and Auburn improved to 8-0. Okoro led the team in scoring and was second in rebounding. Through eight games, Okoro has scored in double digits in all but one game. Against Richmond, he scored just nine points because he got into foul trouble early on. He has helped the undefeated Tigers rise 12 spots from their original AP Poll ranking of No. 24 to No. 12. This is the second week Okoro has won SEC freshman of the week. He is the fourth freshman in program history to win the award twice in a single season.
  2. 5 things to know about Minnesota, Auburn’s bowl opponent Updated 1:49 PM;Today 8:07 AM 5-7 minutes To end its season, Auburn will head to Tampa, Florida to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers, a Big Ten team that seemingly came out of nowhere and had a historical season. After going 7-6 in 2018, the Golden Gophers finished 10-2 and earned themselves an invitation to their third Florida-based bowl ever. While Auburn’s other 2019 opponents might have been unfamiliar because the Tigers had not faced them in years, the Golden Gophers are complete strangers. Auburn has never (ever) played Minnesota, in the regular season, in a bowl game, or otherwise. Here are five things to know about the energetic players, coach and fans that will be rowing their boat down to the Outback Bowl: 1. A season of firsts: Not only is it the first time Minnesota has ever faced Auburn, but it’s also the first time since 1905 that the Golden Gophers have finished with 10 wins. Since the start of the season, they were crossing off firsts. When they beat Illinois, they increased to 5-0 for the season — their first 5-0 start since 2004. When they beat Nebraska, their 6-0 record was the first since 2003, and their 8-0 record going back to 2018 was the first time they’d won eight straight since 1948-1949. Then they improved their 2019 season record to 8-0, the first time since 1941. They finally lost to Iowa after a 9-0 start, the first since 1904. They finished the season 10-2. When they beat No. 4 Penn State this season, the Gophers also checked off their first win over a top-five team since 1999. They ascended as high as No. 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings, the highest in program history. 2. Respected by his players and his peers: P.J. Fleck, who was hired as the head coach in January 2016, was selected by his fellow coaches as Big Ten coach of the year. He coached them to their first 10-win season since 1905 and the first seven-win Big Ten season in program history. The team has a program-best average GPA, as well. Fleck, who’s been a head coach since he started at Western Michigan in 2013, will be returning to Tampa where he was the wide receivers coach in 2012. With his bald head, colored pants and quarterzip over a shirt and tie, Fleck has led the way for the Gophers with the cry “Row the Boat.” Throughout the season, he’s dropped many cliches and sayings, and he’s led his team on scavenger hunts to help them win games. Fleck’s been referred to as “weird” by The Loop and “flamboyant” by CBS Sports, but no one is denying that he and his team are having fun. 3. By the numbers: Offensively, Minnesota is barely ranked above Auburn nationally, with the 49th-most offensive yards to Auburn’s 53rd-most yards. Like Auburn, they run the ball more, but they’re more evenly split between their passing and rushing offense. They’re ranked 47th in rushing and 51st in passing, while Auburn is 26th in rushing yards and 85th in passing yards. They have strong wide receivers, two of whom won Big Ten season honors, and they’re led by a sophomore quarterback who’s ranked 24th for most passing yards and sixth for passing efficiency. Defensively, Minnesota has been led by its secondary. It’s given up the 11th fewest passing yards in the nation while making 14 interceptions. Sophomore Antoine Whitfield is fourth nationally with seven interceptions. Minnesota is giving up 184.9 passing yards per game compared to Auburn’s 208.4. The Gophers are allowing 127.9 rushing yards a game, just 12.4 more yards than Auburn is allowing. 4. All things shiny: With their outstanding season, several Minnesota players are collecting awards, including holder Casey O’Brien who won the Disney Spirit award. The Disney award goes out to the nation’s most inspirational college football player, coach, team or figure. O’Brien overcame four bouts of cancer to play football. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer, in high school and told he would never play football again. Although he had to switch from quarterback to holder, he proved the diagnosis wrong and made his collegiate debut in Minnesota’s win over Rutgers. Quarterback Morgan is also one of the finalists for the Manning Award. Wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson both made the All-Big Ten First Team, marking the first time one school has taken both receiver spots. Bateman was also the only Big Ten player to be a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. will be competing with Derrick Brown as a finalist for the Nagurski award. And the list keeps going… 5. The Gophers are fine against the SEC: The Outback Bowl will be Minnesota’s 18th game against an SEC opponent. The last time they played an SEC team was in 2015 when they played Missouri in the Citrus Bowl and lost 33-17. The time before that was when they beat Alabama in the 2004 Music City Bowl 20-16. Overall, the Gophers are 8-8-1 against SEC teams. Although the program itself doesn’t have much familiarity with the SEC, it does have plenty of players from SEC territory. There are 33 players on the roster from states with SEC schools. Twelve of them are from Georgia, seven are from Florida and five are from Texas. There are also players from Kentucky, Missouri, Louisiana and Arkansas. The Outback Bowl will give the Gophers the chance to pass .500 against the SEC.
  3. al.com Auburn lands 4 on AP All-SEC team, with 3 on 1st-team Today 10:51 AM 2 minutes Auburn Football Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics Four Auburn players earned AP All-SEC honors on Monday, including three first-team selections. Defensive tackle Derrick Brown, defensive end Marlon Davidson and linebacker K.J. Britt were all named to the AP’s All-SEC first team, while safety Jeremiah Dinson picked up a second-team nod. The three first-team selections for Auburn were tied with Alabama for most on the defensive side of the ball. Brown, who was also named the AP’s SEC Defensive Player of the Year on Monday, finished the season with 50 total tackles, including 12.5 for a loss and four sacks. He added four pass breakups and a pair of forced fumbles, both on strip-sacks, as well as two fumble returns. Davidson had 45 total tackles in 11 games and tied Brown with 12.5 tackles for a loss. The senior defensive end led Auburn with 7.5 sacks this season and added five hurries, a pass breakups and two forced fumbles -- both of which also came on strip-sacks. Britt had 61 total tackles, with nine for a loss and 2.5 sacks this season. The junior linebacker also had one pass breakup and a forced fumble for Auburn’s defense. Dinson, meanwhile, led the team with 79 total tackles, including 4.5 for a loss and two sacks. The senior safety added two interceptions on the season, as well as one pass breakup and a forced fumble. Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.
  4. al.com Potential candidates for Auburn’s next offensive coordinator Updated 12:48 PM;Today 12:02 PM 5-7 minutes Auburn Football For the third time since taking over as head coach, Gus Malzahn will need to replace his offensive coordinator. Kenny Dillingham is out at Auburn after one season, leaving Malzahn’s staff to reunite with his mentor, Mike Norvell, as offensive coordinator at Florida State, a source confirmed to AL.com. With Dillingham gone, Malzahn will need to hire his fourth offensive coordinator on the Plains, following in the footsteps of Dillingham, Chip Lindsey and Rhett Lashlee. Here’s AL.com’s list of potential candidates to replace Dillingham on Malzahn’s staff: Chad Morris, former Arkansas coach Morris was fired after less than two seasons at Arkansas while accumulating a 4-18 record with the Razorbacks. Still, Morris is one of Malzahn’s closest friends in the coaching industry -- Malzahn was one of the first to reach out to Morris when he was fired by Arkansas last month -- as the two have had a strong relationship over the last 15 years, with their careers intertwining and somewhat mirroring each other over that time, first as high school coaches in Arkansas and Texas, then as Power 5 offensive coordinators and then as head coaches at Group of Five schools and ultimately SEC programs. Morris is a sharp offensive mind with a similar philosophy as Malzahn. As a high school coach in Texas in the early 2000s, Morris reached out to Malzahn to pick his brain offensively and implement changes that helped him on a road to success at the high school level. As a potential bonus: If Auburn were to hire Morris, it would likely be able to sign his son, four-star quarterback Chandler Morris, a former Arkansas commit who took a visit to campus for the Iron Bowl, to bolster depth in the quarterback room. Brennan Marion, offensive coordinator at William & Mary Marion is another Malzahn protege, though the up-and-coming assistant has never coached under Malzahn. He did, however, star for him as a record-setting receiver at Tulsa before carving his own path into the coaching profession, first as a high school coach in California, then as an assistant at Arizona State before becoming the offensive coordinator at FCS program Howard -- where his Malzahn-flavored scheme, the “Go-Go” system, excelled with Caylin Newton, the younger brother of Cam Newton, at quarterback. He spent this season as the offensive coordinator at William & Mary. An innovative offensive mind, Marion could help expand Auburn’s offense while reuniting with his mentor. Marion also worked at Auburn’s coaching clinic on campus this spring. Kodi Burns, Auburn receivers coach/co-offensive coordinator/passing game coordinator If Malzahn wants to stay in-house and keep continutity, promoting Burns would be a logical choice. Burns has been on Auburn’s staff since the 2016 season and has taken on more responsibilities in recent years, most recently adding the title of passing game coordinator to his resume. Burns, of course, played receiver at Auburn when Malzahn was offensive coordinator during the Tigers’ 2010 national championship. Dell McGee, Georgia running backs coach/run game coordinator McGee has spent the last four seasons as an assistant at Georgia under Kirby Smart, working with the Bulldogs’ running backs, with four different backs accounting for six 1,000-yard rushing seasons during his time in Athens, Ga. Along with coaching the Bulldogs’ running backs, McGee holds the title of Georgia run game coordinator and previously served as assistant head coach. Prior to his time at Georgia, however, McGee spent two seasons as running backs coach at Georgia Southern and led that program to a bowl game win in 2015 while serving as interim head coach. Before taking the job at GSU, McGee -- a former Auburn defensive back -- was on Malzahn’s inaugural staff at Auburn as an offensive analyst. Bobby Bentley, South Carolina tight ends coach Bentley has been on Will Muschamp’s staff at South Carolina for the last four seasons, serving as the Gamecocks’ running backs coach for three before shifting to tight ends coach this year. A former offensive analyst on Malzahn’s staff for two seasons, the longtime high school coach back in South Carolina -- where he’s a coaching legend -- is a longtime friend of Malzahn’s. The one knock: He has never been a college offensive coordinator, though he did interview for the position with Malzahn last season after Lindsey’s departure. Brent Dearmon, Kansas offensive coordinator Dearmon spent much of 2019 as the offensive coordinator at Kansas, where he was promoted in early October after Les Miles parted way with OC Lee Koenning. Prior to his time at Kansas, Dearmon spent the 2018 season as head coach at his alma mater, Bethel University, where former Auburn quarterback/receiver Jonathan Wallace was on his staff. Dearmon previously spent two seasons on Malzahn’s staff at Auburn as an offensive analyst -- working with running backs in 2013 and receivers in 2014 -- before becoming the offensive coordinator at Arkansas Tech for three seasons. A likely longshot candidate, but certainly a Malzahn guy. AL.com will update this post. Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.
  5. 247sports.com Why Outback Bowl is a 'big deal' for Auburn ByBrandon Marcello 3-4 minutes AUBURN, Alabama — Playing in the Outback Bowl is a “big deal” for Auburn because of what’s at stake for the legacy of the 2019 team, coach Gus Malzahn said Sunday night. The coach and the program conducted their annual awards banquet Sunday evening, just a few hours after learning they would play Minnesota in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day. “It’s what we’ve been talking (about),” Malzahn said, according to a team spokesperson. “A month ago we said a 10-win season is our goal. We won the last two and this would be the 10th. It’s very important to our team and very important to send our seniors out with a legacy of a 10-win season at Auburn with the schedule that we played, which is the toughest in college football.” The combined winning percentage of Auburn’s opponents, which includes three losses to top 10 teams and two wins against top-15 teams, ranks second nationally behind South Carolina. The No. 12 Tigers (9-3) are soaring after a 48-45 victory against rival Alabama, which dropped from No. 5 to No. 13 in the College Football Playoff rankings. The two rivals are tied for ninth nationally in the AP poll. The matchup with No. 18 Minnesota (10-2) figures to be a tough one in the trenches. Sophomore right tackle Daniel Faalele is an incredible 6-foot-9 and 400 pounds, but injured a knee in the Gophers’ season finale. The Australian native may not be available for the Outback Bowl, which is based in Tampa, just south of his high school of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The Gophers’ large offensive will likely face off against defensive tackle Derrick Brown, who is a finalist for seven national awards. “Derrick is one of the best all-around football players in the entire country. Any position,” Malzahn said Sunday. “It’s not a coincidence he’s up for a lot of these awards. I expect him to win quite a few of them. He’s a real special player. He’s had an unbelievable year. He’s played his best football in the biggest games when they matter the most. That’s a sign of a great player.” Minnesota is coming off its first 10-win regular season since 1905 under second-year head coach P.J. Fleck, who recently agreed to a contract extension with the Big Ten’s Gophers. “He’s a dynamic coach,” Malzahn said. “He’s a very exciting coach. During one of our off weeks [ESPN’s] College GameDay was there when they played Penn State and they won. I got a chance to watch a little bit of that game and was very impressed. I’ve always been impressed with him as a coach and obviously he’s got a very good team.” Auburn coaches were on the road recruiting last week and left the Tigers’ annual banquet Sunday night to continue their recruiting tours. The Iron Bowl victory has certainly helped the Tigers’ efforts on the road as the early signing period approaches (Dec. 18). “It was a great win for our program beating our rival at home with the best environment in college football,” Malzahn said. “It’s given us great momentum not only in recruiting but looking forward to the bowl. This is a big deal for us with a chance to win a 10th game.”
  6. al.com Auburn surges in front for nation's top JUCO OT Updated Dec 08, 2019;Posted Dec 08, 2019 4 minutes Auburn Football Jeremy Flax, the nation's top junior college offensive tackle, took an official visit to Auburn over the weekend. The nation’s top junior college offensive tackle has a new leader. Three-star prospect Jeremy Flax named Auburn as his leader, overtaking Texas Tech in his recruitment, following an official visit to the Plains during the weekend. Flax placed Auburn firmly atop his list, which also includes Texas Tech and Kentucky. “It was everything about the visit, but the one thing that stuck out was probably just the winning opportunity," Flax said. "Those other places, you’re probably not going to win like you can here — SEC championships, playoffs, it’s just hard to get into that at those other places, but here, it’s not going to be that way.” Flax previously took an official visit to Texas Tech in mid-November, and he will take his final official to Kentucky next weekend before making his decision. He plans to sign during the early signing period, which begins Dec. 18, and will enroll in classes in January after graduating from Independence Community College in Kansas. A 6-foot-6, 330-pounder originally from Detroit, Flax will have three years of eligibility remaining at whichever school he signs with. He is rated as a three-star prospect, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, which list him as the top JUCO offensive tackle and the No. 16 overall JUCO prospect this cycle. Auburn currently has seven offensive linemen committed to its 2020 class, including offensive tackles Javion Cohen, Killian Zierer, Brenden Coffey and Jonathan Buskey. With Auburn losing six offensive linemen after this season, including four starters, Flax sees an opportunity to step in immediately and compete for a starting job at offensive tackle. That, he said, is one of the most appealing selling points for Auburn as he nears his decision. “It’s real important, really, because I’m a JUCO guy," Flax said. "I already got two years gone, my redshirt year gone, so I only got three left. I know I got to come out and play, so that’s real important knowing that I can come here and get that opportunity to get that starting spot.” The other major selling point for Flax? The talent that Auburn is set to bring back at the offensive skill positions, with a receiving corps set to bring back Seth Williams, Anthony Schwartz, Eli Stove, Shedrick Jackson and Matthew Hill, among others, as well as a backfield with Boobee Whitlow, D.J. Williams, Shaun Shivers and Harold Joiner. Of course, there’s also quarterback Bo Nix, who is just a freshman. “That jumped out, too,” Flax said. "Like a lot of teams, the quarterback’s not as good. I want to block for somebody good that I know is going to be like that. Bo Nix is the truth. Like, I watch him all the time; he’s a dude.” Ultimately, though, one of the biggest factors for Flax will be the blessing of his mother, who was along with him for his official visit to Auburn. “Her decision really matters a lot,” Flax said. "If she don’t like the school, I’m not going to go there. It’s that simple. She loves it, though. Everything about it — she loves the coaching staff, she loves it all. Mom’s got the blessing, so it’s just up to me if I want to make the decision.” Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.
  7. al.com Reports: Ole Miss expected to hire Lane Kiffin as coach Updated Dec 06, 2019;Posted Dec 06, 2019 2 minutes Sports AP Florida Atlantic's Lane Kiffin is expected to be the next head football coach at Ole Miss, according to multiple reports. (AP Photo/Jim Rassol) Ole Miss is set to hire Lane Kiffin as its next head football coach, according to multiple reports. Kiffin is expected to be announced as the next Rebels head man as early as Saturday. The 44-year-old Kiffin will first coach Florida Atlantic in Saturday’s Conference USA championship game against UAB. Kiffin — who was also mentioned in connection with the opening at Arkansas — will return to the SEC after three seasons at FAU, where he is 25-13. He was offensive coordinator at Alabama from 2014-16, helping the Crimson Tide to a national championship in 2015. Kiffin has also been head coach at USC (2010-13), Tennessee (2009) and with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders (2007-08). In eight seasons as a college head coach, he has a record of 60-34. Ole Miss fired Matt Luke on Sunday, three days after the Rebels lost 21-20 to Mississippi State to end their season at 4-8. Luke posted a record of 15-21 in three seasons as Rebels head coach, going 6-6 as interim coach in 2017 after Hugh Freeze resigned abruptly in mid-July. Kiffin’s younger brother, Chris, was Ole Miss defensive line coach under Freeze from 2012-16. Chris Kiffin spent the 2017 season as Lane’s defensive coordinator at FAU before joining the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.
  8. al.com Sal Cannella gets his ‘unbelievable’ Iron Bowl moment Posted Dec 06, 2019 5-6 minutes Sal Cannella took it way back — back to the 2018 season opener against Washington. It was a case of déjà vu for Cannella, who in that game in Atlanta kicked off the 2018 campaign with a suave 10-yard touchdown reception on the sideline for Auburn’s first touchdown of the season an the first of his career. Only this time around, it was a different quarterback — Bo Nix, not Jarrett Stidham — and the stage was even bigger. During Auburn’s thrilling 48-45 win against Alabama in the Iron Bowl last weekend, Cannella came through with another highlight-reel touchdown catch — a 14-yarder from Nix late in the first half that saw the senior receiver leap near the sideline and get both feet down inbounds for what was, at the time, a game-tying touchdown. “Same play,” Cannella said. “That’s my play. I’m telling you. I told you back then. Same play.” It was Cannella’s first touchdown of the season — his first since last year’s Liberty game — and it couldn’t have come at a more ideal time for the senior, who entered the game with just eight receptions for 137 yards on the year and no catches over the Tigers’ previous four games. This one, though, was one that Cannella won’t soon forget after a wild, back-and-forth Iron Bowl win that vaulted Auburn ahead of Alabama in the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings and thwarted any hopes the Tide had of making the playoff. “I mean, you couldn't write it up any better, man,” Cannella said. “Just, the whole year's been a grind. We've had a lot of ups and downs as a team. I mean, and this is one that really matters. We knew that and we knew just to have a good feeling about the year, we had to win this one. You couldn't write it up any better, man. Unbelievable game. Last game in Jordan-Hare, fans rushing the stadium, beating Alabama, it's just unbelievable.” But back to Cannella’s catch. The 14-yard toe-tap touchdown by Cannella capped a critical drive for Auburn, which had just ceded all momentum to Alabama late in the half. After Smoke Monday’s pick-six off Mac Jones gave Auburn a 17-10 lead with 5:36 to go in the second quarter, Alabama quickly tied the game on Jaylen Waddle’s 98-yard kickoff return touchdown. Auburn running back Boobee Whitlow fumbled it on the Tigers’ ensuing drive, and the Tide retook the lead less than a minute later when Jones found Henry Ruggs for another touchdown with 4:12 to go in the half. It was one of those series of events that made it seem like Alabama was on the verge of pulling away, especially with the Tide getting the ball back to start the second half. Auburn knew it needed an answer. “Before the game even started, we knew we had to just make plays,” Cannella said. “And that was just the motto of the whole day. Offense, defense, special teams, we just had to make plays. Everyone just, when they had the opportunity, they got to go out there and do what they do. It was just cool to see everybody getting involved and everybody doing their thing. And we just kept driving the ball down the field, like we got to score touchdowns. We knew that, too, because we would get down the field -- we had like 500 yards against Ole Miss and we rarely scored the ball. So we knew we had to score to win and just driving the ball down the field, it was good seeing everybody getting after it.” Auburn picked up a quick first down on the drive that followed Ruggs’ touchdown, but after two runs by D.J. Williams for a combined 3 yards, the Tigers faced third-and-7 at their own 38. That’s when Nix found Seth Williams down the left side of the field for a one-handed, over-the-shoulder catch for 37 yards. After a timeout, Nix then completed another unlikely pass to Will Hastings, who seemingly appeared out of nowhere to haul in what appeared to be a throwaway for an 11-yard gain and another first down with 1:12 to go in the half. Auburn burned another timeout, and that’s when Gus Malzahn dialed up that same play call from last year’s Washington game. Nix dropped back, pump-faked and then fired the ball toward the left side of the end zone, placing it where only Cannella had a chance to make the catch. The 6-foot-5 receiver had enough separation against Patrick Surtain Jr., leapt and got both feet down inbounds with 66 ticks left on the clock. “I think it goes to show a lot about those three guys in particular, and our wide receiver corps in general,” Nix said. “They’re not talked about a lot, but they make plays when they have to make plays. And in games like that, that’s the difference.” The touchdown was particularly meaningful for Cannella, since it came on senior day with both his parents, his brother and one of his closest cousins all watching from the stands. It also didn’t hurt that he “definitely” had the best catch on a drive chock-full of them, according to Seth Williams. “It's just kind of fate that it happened that way,” Cannella said, “and I'm happy I went out like that.” Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.
  9. Derrick Brown named finalist for Lott IMPACT Trophy Posted Dec 06, 2019 3 minutes Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown was the Lott IMPACT player of the week on Tuesday, after the final game of the season. Three days later, the Lott IMPACT Trophy named Brown as one of four finalists for the yearly award that goes to the “defensive IMPACT player of the year.” The trophy, named after Pro Football Hall of Fame member Ronnie Lott, recognizes a player’s athletic performance as well as his personal attributes. The panel of voters, made of media members, previous finalists, coaches and the board of the Pacific Club Impact Foundation, specifically looks for integrity, tenacity, maturity, performance, academics and community involvement. Brown was recognized for his performance, which includes 50 tackles, 12.5 tackles for losses, 4 sacks, 4 passes broken up, 2 forced fumbles and two quarterback hurries, as well as his work on the SEC Student-Athlete Council and with the AFCA Good Works Team. The Lott IMPACT Trophy panel noted that he is also a semifinalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, which goes to the player who best combines community service with academic and athletic achievement, and a Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year semifinalist. Each of the four finalists for the award represent a different conference. Jordan Fuller, a safety at Ohio State, represents the Big Ten; Isaiah Simmons, a linebacker at Clemson, represents the ACC; and Evan Weaver, a linebacker at Cal, represents the Pac-12. The winner will be announced December 15, and his university will receive $25,000 to its general scholarship fund. The other three schools will receive $5,000. This season, Brown has won SEC defensive lineman of the week three times. He is also a finalist for five other awards besides the Lott IMPACT Trophy, the Wuerffel Trophy and Collegiate Man of the Year. He is also being considered for the Outland Trophy, which is given to the nation’s top interior lineman; the Bednarik Award, which goes to the nation’s best defensive player; the Nagurski Trophy, also awarded to the top defensive player; the Pop Warner Award and the Senior Class Award. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn thinks Brown should also be considered for the Heisman. The Nagurski Trophy winner will be announced first, on December 9. Both the Bednarik Award and the Outland Trophy will be announced December 12. Three finalists for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award will be announced December 16.
  10. al.com Pat Sullivan memorial: Pastor Chris Hodges eulogizes Auburn legend Updated Dec 06, 2019;Posted Dec 06, 2019 2-3 minutes Auburn Football 34 Pat Sullivan, 1950-2019 Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan, a legendary star quarterback at Auburn University from 1969-71, was eulogized Friday in a service at the Church of the Highlands in Irondale where friends remembered him for his off-the-field contributions. Sullivan died on Dec. 1 after a long battle with cancer. He was 69. “We’re here to celebrate a life that was lived very, very well,” said Church of the Highlands Senior Pastor Chris Hodges, who said he met Sullivan 15 years ago playing golf at the Birmingham Country Club. Sullivan asked to pray with him that day to give his life to Jesus, Hodges said. Sullivan soon joined the Church of the Highlands and attended services there for most of the past 14 years, Hodges said. “I was with him a few days ago,” Hodges said. “He wanted to talk about God, he wanted to talk about making a difference, and he wanted to pray.” Samford University President Andrew Westmoreland also spoke, recalling how in 2006 he asked Sullivan to become the football coach at Samford. “'I’m a Samford man now,'” Westmoreland recalled him saying as they shook hands on the agreement. Sullivan served as football coach at Samford from 2007 to 2014. He had previously been head coach at Texas Christian University from 1992-97 and offensive coordinator at UAB from 1999 to 2006. Samford University Assistant Coach Ross Newton, who coached under Sullivan, recalled his work on behalf of other cancer patients, dedicating himself to help ease others’ suffering. Before his death, Sullivan helped launch the Pat and Jean Sullivan Comprehensive Head and Neck Cancer Survivor Care Program at UAB’s O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center. “He used a difficult, difficult circumstance to help people,” Newton said. Sullivan’s son, Patrick, and grandson, Alex Pankey, spoke on behalf of Sullivan’s wife, Jean, his three children, eight grandchildren and other family in attendance. “We all thought he belonged to all of us,” Westmoreland said. “He lived as a Heisman Trophy winner here at the center of the college football universe, and he did it without pretense and with genuine humility.”
  11. he looked pretty good to me last night. i thought he could do better last year but then i read where he was playing hur.t and last night they pretty much could not stop him.
  12. saturdaydownsouth.com Auburn’s All-Decade Team: Derrick Brown headlines fearsome defense Brian Stultz | 2 days ago 5-7 minutes Editor’s note: Saturday Down South has selected an all-decade offensive and defensive team for all 14 SEC programs. Our series stays in the SEC West with Auburn. Coming Thursday: LSU. Confession: I am throwing a bit of a wild-card here as Kevin Steele did against LSU, but instead of playing a 3-1-7 formation, I am putting together a 5-2-4 unit on the field only because of one reason: How do you dare limit the amount of talented defensive linemen who have come out of Auburn the past decade to just 4? Seven of Auburn’s 15 draft picks on defense this decade played on defensive line and 3 more likely will join that list this April. Yes, dominance along the line of scrimmage has been a strong point for the Tigers over the past 10 years and, while I had to lower some players to honorable mention, it was because of the amount of quality in that group. The rest? Let’s take a look at Auburn’s All-Decade Team on defense: Defensive line: Derrick Brown There’s not much more to add at this point. Brown is a game-wrecker. Double teams were often required to stop Brown from getting to the quarterback or running back, and sometimes even that didn’t help. The numbers speak for themselves just this season: 50 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries. Expect his name to pop up a bunch this award season. When opposing offenses weren’t focused on him, they had their eyes on … Defensive line: Marlon Davidson The bounty of riches along the defensive line this season was remarkable. Davidson and Brown seemingly handed off the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week award each and every week, and for good reason. Davidson, with the bowl game left, has put up 7.5 sacks with 12.5 tackles for a loss. Defensive line: Dee Ford Remember Ford? SEC quarterbacks certainly do. He made a living of being in the backfield of opposing offenses, racking up 18.5 sacks (including 10.5 in 2013) during his time at Auburn, with 27.5 tackles for a loss. He was a force along the line for a number of years and the biggest memory of him will be his big hit on Aaron Murray. Defensive line: Nick Fairley Ask the Oregon Ducks how good Fairley was? The lineman basically took control of the line of scrimmage in the 2010 BCS National Championship game and didn’t let up one inch. His 2013 season (60 total tackles, 24 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks) garnered him SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors along with the Lombardi Award, given to the top college football player regardless of position. He and Ford were the Tigers’ 2 1st-round picks this decade. Defensive line: Carl Lawson I am playing a 5-2-4 here only because I didn’t want to leave out Carl Lawson. After a successful freshman season, he had to sit out all of 2014 and part of 2015, but came back with a vengeance in 2016. A 1st-team All-American, Lawson put up 30 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss and 9 sacks. Backups: Montravius Adams and Dontavius Russell. It’s hard to put a 2nd-team All-American as a backup, but this is Auburn. In 4 seasons, Adams made 151 total tackles, 21 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks while also forcing 3 fumbles and intercepting 2 passes. Russell had 153 total tackles, 17 tackles for a loss and 6 sacks in 4 productive years, all of which made him a fan favorite. Linebacker: Deshaun Davis A major contributor for 3 seasons, Davis was seemingly everywhere the ball was, racking up 266 total tackles, including 28.5 for a loss and 7 sacks. He also became a fan favorite for his tenacity on the field, and was a good quote off of it. Linebacker: Tre’ Williams Another player with a nose for the ball, Williams recorded 188 total tackles during his 4 years on The Plains. In 2016 alone, he made 67 tackles with 3.5 for a loss and a sack while forcing 1 fumble. Backups: Josh Bynes, Cassanova McKinzy. Bynes anchored the linebacker corps for 3 consecutive seasons and was named 2nd-team All-SEC in 2010. McKinzy made a living in opposing backfields, racking up 29.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks over 4 seasons. Defensive back: Jamel Dean The 2018 season was Dean’s breakout season as the cornerback put up eye-popping numbers despite offenses avoiding him. In all, he made 30 tackles with 2 interceptions and 2 tackles for a loss and is now claiming his territory for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Defensive back: Carlton Davis The 2017 1st-team All-SEC was another backstop for the Tigers, especially in his junior season when he broke up 11 passes, forced 1 fumble and intercepted a pass. In his 3-year career, Davis racked up 138 total tackles. As a freshman in 2015, he intercepted 3 passes. Defensive back: Rudy Ford Ford served as a bit of everything for the Tigers, playing running back a bit and also kickoff returner, but his specialty was in the secondary. In 2016 he forced 7 pass breakups, 3 quarterback hurries and recorded 59 total tackles with 5.5 tackles for a loss. Defensive back: Joshua Holsey Pairing with Ford in the 2016 secondary was Holsey, who broke up 10 passes and a tackle for a loss along with 30 total tackles that season. In his 4-year career, he recorded 118 total tackles. Backups: Chris Davis, Noah Igbinoghene, Johnathan Ford, Jonathan Jones. Igbinoghene quickly became a leader for the 2019 secondary and brought emotion to the back 4. Ford was a 4-year player who recorded 118 total tackles during the 2015 season alone. Jones made 69 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss and intercepted a pass in 2015. And Davis? Because, well … this happened. RELATED: Auburn’s All-Decade Offense
  13. Bruce Pearl wants J’Von McCormick to be more selfish on the court Posted Dec 05, 2019 3-4 minutes J’Von McCormick’s unselfish character shows in the way he plays, but now Bruce Pearl needs him to be a little more self-serving. After seven games, McCormick leads the team with 47 assists, averaging 6.8 assists per game. He set the record for assists in a game when he helped his teammates score 16 times against CSUN. McCormick finds it rewarding to create opportunities for others. “It’s just exciting seeing my teammates get open shots and build their confidence up,” McCormick said. “I know I’m going to need them later on this season.” This season, the point guard has developed a special chemistry with Anfernee McLemore and Austin Wiley. They run an effective pick-and-roll. If the defense sticks with McCormick, he dishes it to McLemore or Wiley, both of whom he said have strong finishes. If not, he keeps it for himself and lays it in. McLemore plays a clean game, too. While running the offense, he’s only committed 18 turnovers. It’s the highest on the team, but considering how often he passes the ball, the percentage is good — McCormick has the second lowest assist-to-turnover ratio in the league. Now, Pearl wants him to focus on his own opportunities. He’s proven he can create chances for his teammates, but he needs to capitalize on the ones he has. “There are times when he takes the ball down the lane where I would actually like to see him shooting it than passing it, sometimes,” Pearl said. “Because he can score. He can make a tough two.” And if he doesn’t make it, Auburn is usually in a good rebounding position on his shots, so it will get a second-chance. This season, McCormick has scored an average of 8.4 points a game, shooting 34.8 percent from the field. Besides Samir Doughty, McCormick sees the court more than anyone else on the team, and he needs to convert more of those minutes to points. McCormick said he’s being told by Pearl to keep doing what he’s doing but to be more aggressive. Going forward, Pearl feels McCormick should make his 3-point shot and his defense areas he focuses on for improvement. McCormick is shooting just 24.1 percent from beyond the arc. “I recognize that the combination of his own personal unselfishness and the ability to play-make for others is something that he really enjoys — and we benefit from,” Pearl said. “I want him to impact the game more defensively, and I want him to impact the game even more with his ability to score.” When asked, McCormick also added free throw shooting to the list of things to work on. He’s making just 36.4 percent of his free throws, the second lowest percentage on the team. There are five more games for McCormick to develop these areas before entering SEC play. Auburn is currently ranked No. 14, but it has the toughest part of its schedule ahead of it. McCormick’s next chance to get out on the court will be Thursday night against Furman at 8 p.m. in Auburn Arena.