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Alabama commit Jeremiah Beaman is an important Auburn target

Zac Blackerby

~2 minutes

Could Auburn flip another Alabama commit?

Auburn is pushing hard for Alabama commit Jeremiah Beaman.

The 6-foot-3.5, 250-pound defensive lineman from Birmingham, Alabama is listed as a four-star across the board. He was in Auburn for the showdown between the Auburn Tigers and the Georgia Bulldogs. Like anyone else who was in Jordan Hare Stadium that day, he was impressed per several accounts.

I asked Brian Smith, Locked On Recruiting Insider, about Beaman.

"He's a kid that could come in and play right away," Smith said of the Parker High School standout. "An over 250 (pound) kid that plays like he's 230. He can play in space, he can come off the edge, he can be a three-tech. He's a pass rusher. You can't ever have enough of those in the SEC."

Auburn's staff pulled out all of the stops on the recruiting side of things this weekend. Beaman is one of several guys who is crucial to helping Auburn get to where they need to be in the SEC.

"That's the kind of guy where if you're going to get back into the Alabama-Georgia conversation, the LSU-TAMU conversation," Smith said. "They've already flipped a certain wide receiver that we've talked about several times on this show."

Auburn flipped the commitment from former Alabama commit Perry Thompson at Big Cat Weekend.

Auburn currently has 18 commits in the 2024 recruiting class and is ranked 15th nationally according to On3.

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Bye week thoughts as Auburn preps for challenging second half

Jason Caldwell
4–6 minutes

Coming into the 2023 season, I had some thoughts about this Auburn team. Some of them have been correct and some of them have been way off. After five games and with a week off, it’s time to revisit my preseason thoughts on the Tigers as they get ready to head into the second half of the schedule next weekend at LSU.

Defense has been consistent for Tigers

I thought the defense would be the side of the ball that would struggle for this Auburn team, but that has been far from the truth. Ron Roberts has done a masterful job of squeezing every bit of juice out of the Auburn defense to this point and it has shown up despite having to deal with some big injuries in the first five weeks to guys such as Nehemiah Pritchett, Austin Keys, Keionte Scott, Donovan Kaufman and others.

The Tigers are currently 28th nationally in scoring defense, giving up 18.2 points per game, and 36th in total defense. One of the reasons for that has been creating turnovers. Auburn has forced 10 turnovers in five games this season. That’s good enough for 17th nationally.

Offense has struggled

Coming into the season, I thought Auburn’s offense would be the side of the ball that the Tigers would lean on early in the year. That has been anything but the truth. A lack of consistency at quarterback and wide receiver has really hampered an offense that needs to take advantage of all of the opportunities it gets.

Maybe the biggest issue has been mistakes. Against Cal it was turnovers and penalties. Those penalties were again an issue against Texas A&M in a loss to the Aggies. Last week against Georgia, a few missed opportunities were probably the difference between winning and losing. Whether it was a couple of bad snaps that threw off timing on short yardage plays or passes that could have been caught, this offense isn’t good enough to miss out on those chances.

Quarterback issues

The offensive issues haven’t just been on the quarterback, but there’s no question that Auburn needs to get much better play at the position moving forward if the Tigers want to continue to improve and win games down the stretch of the 2022 season. In terms of throwing the football, much of that has come from Payton Thorne. While his numbers look okay, completing 62.8 percent of his passes for 643 yards and four touchdowns with four interceptions, when you break it down to the three Power 5 opponents, it looks bleak to say the least.

Against Cal, Texas A&M and Georgia, Thorne has completed just 25-45 passes (55.5 percent) for just 220 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. When you throw in Robby Ashford’s 3-8 for 10 yards in the three games and Holden Geriner going 2-7 for 8 yards against Texas A&M, that brings Auburn’s total in three Power 5 games to just 30-60 for 238 yards. Tough to expect to beat anyone unless that improves.

Simpson steps up

There isn’t a player on the roster that has played as well as Jaylin Simpson this season, at least in my opinion. Simpson’s moved to safety has unlocked a playmaker for the Tigers and he’s showing that every week this season. Tied for the nation’s lead with four interceptions, Simpson’s play in the middle of defense has been a huge bright spot for Auburn this season. While he’s not a big, physical safety, Simpson is the type of guy that teams are looking for now because of his coverage ability and playmaking skills.

Running back by committee

This is the one thing that we expected that has come true. Despite missing the first game, Jarquez Hunter leads the team with 50 carries for 202 yards. Brian Battie has 30 carries for 152 yards while Damari Alston has 26 carries for 131 yards. With Sean Jackson and Jeremiah Cobb combining for nearly 200 yards on less than 20 carries, it’s a group that has shown versatility and the ability to grind out yards so far this season. With the issues throwing the football, they’ll be called on to do more of that the rest of the way.

Finding playmakers still an issue

If you want to talk about what it takes to be elite as a team in this era of college football, you can point to quarterback, pass catchers and pass rushers. Those are the three spots where teams go from good to great. Those are three spots that Auburn still needs to find someone to step up. Playmakers at those three spots can cover up a lot of other issues for a team, issues that have been costly for the Tigers in the last two games.

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Auburn surging for OT target Favour Edwin

JD McCarthy

~2 minutes

Auburn’s 2024 recruiting class is currently ranked as the No. 15 class in the country and has landed elite players at several key positions but there is one glaring weakness and it is at a critical position.

Four-star DeAndre Carter is currently Auburn’s only commit along the offensive line, an area where Auburn is looking to sign several players. However, good news could be on the way as Auburn is trending for Favour Edwin, one of their top targets.

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Edwin officially visited Auburn last weekend for the Georgia game and told On3’s Cole Pinkston it was “amazing” and that it “checked all the boxes.”

The visit went so well that On3’s Jeffrey Lee has logged a prediction for Auburn to land Edwin. The prediction gives Auburn a 92.1% chance to land him, according to On3’s recruiting prediction machine.

Edwin is the No. 832 overall player and No. 54 offensive tackle in the On3 industry ranking. The McDonough, Georgia native is also the No. 100 player from the Peach State.

Contact/Follow us @TheAuburnWire on X (Twitter), and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Auburn news, notes, and opinions. You can also follow JD on Twitter @jdmccarthy15

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Jalen McLeod's draft stock is on the rise

JD McCarthy
~2 minutes

Jalen McLeod came to Auburn from App State for his senior season looking to prove he could compete with the best players in the country and through five weeks of the season he has done just that.

He quickly emerged as Auburn’s top pass rusher and despite being banged up, has made 12 tackles, two quarterback hurries, broken up a pass and forced a fumble.

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Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy believes he has been even better than his box score indicated and named him one of nine seniors who generated draft buzz in Week 5, in his weekly interview with On3’s Matt Zenitz.

“Showed up more in live exposure against Georgia than what his stat line might suggest,” Nagy said. “Consistently around the ball. Has the ability to bend the edge on pass rush. Athletic and instinctive enough to be solid special teams contributor at the next level. NFL scouts we spoke with in the press box also like him as draftable level player.”

McLeod was one of 14 Auburn players to make the Senior Bowl watch list ahead of the season.

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Auburn’s Freeze says he’s prioritizing receivers on the recruiting trail. And Saturday showed why.

Published: Oct. 04, 2023, 6:01 a.m.

6–7 minutes

The Georgia Bulldogs had just taken their first lead of the game thanks to 38-yard field goal to go up 20-17 early in the fourth quarter.

Not panicked, Auburn quarterback Payton Thorne and the Tigers’ offense went back to work on a drive that started on the Auburn 25-yard line. Some short, completed passes, some solid rushes from Brian Battie and a pass interference call that went Auburn’s way had the Tigers knocking on the red zone’s door.

On 2nd and 6 from Georgia’s 28-yard line, Thorne took a page out of Carson Beck’s book and targeted his big-bodied tight end.

Rivaldo Fairweather – whose 6-foot-4 frame makes him a mismatch nightmare – found himself in a one-on-one situation against Daylen Everett, Georgia’s 6-foot-1 defensive back.

It was the exact situation you hope to get Fairweather into, so Thorne looked to capitalize on the matchup and tossed the football in the direction of Fairweather, who was streaking down the left sideline.

Thorne’s throw was a 50/50 ball and Fairweather was able to get separation from Everett. The ball first hit Fairweather’s right hand and then his left hand before falling through the basket and bouncing towards the pylon at the goal line.

A catch would’ve given Auburn a fresh set of downs inside the Georgia 5-yard line and the opportunity to possibly go up 24-20 and apply pressure on Beck and the Bulldogs’ offense. And surely, a juiced-up Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd wouldn’t have helped Georgia’s case.

But as the old saying goes, “almost” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Now, this isn’t a hit piece on Fairweather. Anyone who has watched Auburn this season will tell you Fairweather might be the Tigers’ biggest receiving threat. Not to mention, if not for some critical grabs against Cal in Week 2, this Auburn team would be 2-3 on the year instead of 3-2.

However, Fairweather’s drop in the fourth quarter on Saturday was the perfect example of a game-wide trend. It looked as though popcorn was part of the pregame meal on Saturday as Auburn’s receivers tallied drop after drop against Georgia.

Thorne went 10-for-19 for 82 yards against the Bulldogs. And looking at just the numbers, one might assume his performance was just as turbulent as the one that ended with him being benched at Texas A&M.

A look at the film, however, tells a different story.

Of Thorne’s nine incompletions, six of them hit the hands of his target.

“I thought Payton (Thorne), of his nine incompletions Saturday, I really felt like five of those should have been caught,” Freeze said during a speaking engagement in Mobile on Monday. “And that makes a difference in those games and it makes a difference in how you perceive the play of a quarterback.”

Fairweather and Malcolm Johnson Jr. each had a pair of passes hit them in the hands, while Jay Fair and running back Jarquez Hunter each had one pass ricochet off their hands.

And that doesn’t mean Auburn’s receivers are to blame for all of them. Not every throw was perfect and the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs have some talented defensive backs in the secondary that were able to make plays.

If some of those incompletions never fell to the turf, however, the night might’ve ended with thousands of Auburn fans storming Pat Dye Field.

But that’s been the story of Auburn’s offense this season – the Tigers have been inconsistent on that side of the football.

Against Texas A&M, Freeze said Thorne had receivers running wide open, but the junior quarterback missed them.

Against Georgia, it was the opposite – Thorne was making the throws, but Auburn’s receivers weren’t making the catches.

“We’re still searching a bit, not so much in the running game, but in the pass game as to what we really look like and who we’re really going to be,” Freeze said. “When I say that, I do not say that that’s all on the quarterback. A lot of it is on receiver play, coaches.”

Freeze made a strong effort to improve Auburn’s receiver corps in the offseason. He brought in guys like Fairweather, who transferred in from Florida International, and Shane Hooks, who made it to The Plains by way of Jackson State.

But Saturday’s performance indicates that room still isn’t at the standard it needs to be to help the Tigers compete in the SEC.

As such, Freeze is continuing to prioritize adding talented targets to his roster.

“We’ve gotta get some guys in the receiver room – some depth there that can separate and win some 1-on-1s,” Freeze said Monday when asked what position group he’s prioritizing on the recruiting trail.

Now here’s the good news for the Tigers: Auburn hosted nearly 70 recruits on Saturday.

Of those visiting were four blue-chip receivers in the 2024 class, including Auburn pledges Perry Thompson, Malcolm Simmons and Bryce Cain. Ny Carr, a 4-star set of hands who holds offers from the likes of Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Miami and others, was also at Jordan-Hare Stadium to watch the Tigers take on the top dogs.

Auburn also hosted a 2025 5-star receiver and Alabama commit in Ryan Williams.

Here’s more good news: Though the Tigers lost Saturday’s game, Auburn showed its ability to go toe-to-toe with the No. 1 team in the country and to did so in front of an impressive home crowd. And that shows Auburn targets that Freeze and the Tigers might be closer to turning the corner than some realize.

“The message is clear: Come help us build it. We can do it. It doesn’t take long,” Freeze said of his recruiting pitch. “We just need people that buy into coming and being a part of the Auburn culture, the Auburn family.”

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Auburn football: Ranking the Tigers' transfers by impact

Lance Dawe
3–4 minutes

How are Auburn's portal additions performing heading into the bye week?

The Tigers brought in 20 transfers this offseason.

Hugh Freeze and his staff put an emphasis on shoring up the trenches, finding new pass catchers, and a quarterback to throw them the ball.

Despite the offensive inefficiencies, Auburn has found some success with their portal additions.

Here's how we rank the newcomers and their impact on the team heading into the bye week.

RB Brian Battie

Brian Battie vs Georgia Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Battie ranks fourth on the team in total scrimmage yards with 193. He has 152 rushing yards (5.1 yards per carry).

He's been one of the few bright spots on the offense so far this season.

OT Dillon Wade

Dillon Wade

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Wade has 314 snaps and an 84.0 pass block grade.

OL Gunner Britton

Gunner Britton at Auburn football practice - Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Britton has 313 snaps and a 82.2 pass block grade.

TE Rivaldo Fairweather

Rivaldo Fairweather vs Georgia Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Fairweather is second on the team in receptions (15) and receiving yards (145).

QB Payton Thorne

Payton Thorne vs Georgia Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Thorne has completed 62.8% of his passes for 643 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.

C Avery Jones

AUBURN, AL - August 03, 2023 - Auburn Offensive Lineman Avery Jones (#66) during a Fall camp practice at the Woltosz Football Performance Center in Auburn, AL.

Photo by Austin Perryman/AU Athletics

Jones has 306 snaps at center but hasn't been highly rated by PFF (59.2 overall grade).

LB Larry Nixon

Sep 9, 2023; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears running back Isaiah Ifanse (22) fumbles the football recovered by Auburn Tigers linebacker Jalen McLeod (35) during the second quarter at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Nixon currently ranks second on the team in total tackles with 23.

WR Shane Hooks

Shane Hooks vs Samford

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Hooks is third on the team in receiving yards (106).

JACK Elijah McAllister

Elijah McAllister at Auburn football practice - Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

McAllister has 132 snaps, eight tackles, four pressures and a sack for Auburn.

DL Justin Rogers

Justin Rogers vs Georgia Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Rogers has a 68.8 PFF grade and has played 113 snaps for the Tigers.

JACK Jalen McLeod

Jalen McLeod, Elijah McAllister vs Georgia Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

McLeod has 12 tackles.

DE Mosiah Nasili-Kite

Mosiah Nasili-Kite vs Samford

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Nasili-Kite has 10 total tackles.

OL Jaden Muskrat

Jaden Muskrat

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Muskrat has played 58 snaps.

DL Lawrence Johnson

Lawrence Johnson

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Johnson has four tackles and a sack.

Stephen Sings V

Stephen Sings V

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Sings has played 67 snaps, has five tackles and two pressures.

OL Dylan Senda

Dylan Senda at Auburn football practice - Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Senda has played only 15 snaps but has been solid when on the field.

WR Jyaire Shorter

Jyaire Shorter at Auburn football practice - Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Shorter has played 58 snaps and has one catch for 10 yards.

WR Caleb Burton

Caleb Burton at Auburn football practice - Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Burton has played 21 snaps and has not recorded a catch.

WR Nick Mardner

Nick Mardner

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Mardner has played 25 snaps and has not recorded a catch.

LB Austin Keys

Austin Keys

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Keys is out for the season with an injury.

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Auburn football: Grading the Tigers near the halfway point in the season

Glenn Sattell | 22 hours ago

6–7 minutes

My goodness, is it possible that we’re already nearing the halfway point in the season? It seems like only yesterday that the anticipation of Hugh Freeze’s arrival on The Plains reached a fever pitch. And now, according to the 2023 football schedule, we’re basically at the midway point in Freeze’s first campaign at Auburn.

The Tigers head into their bye week at 3-2 but still looking for that first SEC win under Freeze. They nearly pulled off the miracle last Saturday at Jordan-Hare against No. 1 Georgia. A 27-20 loss showed just how far they’ve come and just how close they are to competing in the SEC West.

There’s still a lot of football to be played, including the bulk of the conference matchups beginning with an Oct. 14 date at LSU. Then it’s full steam ahead with consecutive home games against Ole Miss and Mississippi State, followed by road contests at Vanderbilt and Arkansas before closing against New Mexico State and the Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare.

As the Tigers hit pause, let’s take a look at how the Tigers have done so far in Freeze’s first season on The Plains.

Quarterback: C-

We knew this would be an issue in Year 1. Quarterback play could be better, but it hasn’t been bad. It’s better than the statistics would indicate. Auburn is last in the SEC in passing offense, producing just 156.2 passing yards per game. Yes, that is atrocious, especially when you consider the next-worse passing team in the conference is averaging nearly 40 more yards per game. And that team is Alabama at 195.4 passing yards per game, also with QB questions.

Take into consideration that in its current state, Auburn is not a pass-oriented team. Neither is Alabama and they seem to be doing just fine with it. Within their system, the Auburn QB tandem of Payton Thorne and Robby Ashford have performed fairly well for the most part with the only real stinker coming against Texas A&M. Auburn has thrown just 5 TD passes thus far — none in SEC play, but that will come.

There obviously is room for improvement, but the pair have done an overall decent job of managing the offense, particularly relative to the preseason expectations.

Running back: B

Auburn ranks 2nd in the SEC in rushing offense, averaging 202 yards per game. Only Tennessee (231.2) averages more. They’ve also rushed for 12 TDs — tied for 19th nationally.

But for the Tigers, a good chunk of that comes from QB rushing. Thorne and Ashford have combined to average 66.4 rushing yards per game. Ashford has 5 TDs and Thorne has added 2.

As for Auburn’s RBs, Jarquez Hunter and Brian Battie are good ones. They have combined for an average of 81 yards per game and that number only looks to increase as the season wears on. The Tigers rushed for 219 yards against Georgia, the 3rd 200-plus yard game this season. Look for the Auburn run game to remain one of the best in the SEC.

Receivers: D

The passing game just hasn’t clicked. Receivers aren’t separating on a consistent basis, and when they do, the QBs aren’t getting them the ball. But there’s still time to get on the same page. Jay Fair is a young WR with talent. His team-leading 18 catches for 196 yards and 2 TDs aren’t numbers that strike fear in opponents, but it’s a starting point for Auburn.

Tight end Rivaldo Fairweather is really the only other target the Tigers have employed. His 15 catches for 145 yards and 1 TD rank among the best in the conference for tight ends.

Offensive line: B+

Numbers can be deceiving. Auburn has allowed 15 sacks, but that’s due largely in part to the nature of their quarterbacks trying to make a play rather than throwing it away.

Overall, this unit has been a bright spot. And that’s a tribute to the players, Freeze and OL coach Jake Thornton considering all the new faces that have been employed this season through the transfer portal. Meshing that group together so quickly is no small task and this group has accomplished the feat.

Defensive line: B+

Games are won and lost in the trenches and that’s where Freeze is building. Marcus Harris is a beast on the DL, and Jayson Jones and Mosiah Nasili-Kite have performed admirably.

Linebacker: B

Eugene Asante and Larry Nixon III have been leaders at their respective LB positions. Asante has already racked up a team-high 35 tackles, including 24 solo and 2 sacks. Nixon has added 23 tackles (13 solo).

Secondary: B+

Auburn is 1 of 3 SEC teams that have more interceptions (6) than TD passes allowed (5).

Among the bright spots in the secondary is Jaylin Simpson. The ball-hawk leads the SEC with 4 interceptions. including 1 pick-6.

Special teams: B

Place-kicker Alex McPherson hasn’t missed yet. He’s 5-for-5 in FG attempts and 18-for-18 on PAT attempts. Punter Oscar Chapman ranks 5th in the SEC, averaging 42.2 yards per punt. He was particularly effective against Georgia, averaging more than 50 yards per punt and twice pinning the Dawgs inside their 10-yard line.

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In His Own Words Freeze talks about QBs moving forward and more

Phillip Marshall

8–10 minutes

Auburn coach Hugh Freeze talks about where Auburn football stands after five games

Auburn coach Hugh Freeze says his team made progress. (Photo: Kyle Okita, 247Sports)

Auburn coach Hugh Freeze, in a wide-ranging interview before making a talk in Mobile on Monday, addressed the quarterback situation, the meaning of the near-miss in a 27-20 loss to No. 1 Georgia and more.

Go inside for the highlights:

On his evaluation of Auburn’s quarterback situation

“Inconsistent. We are searching, not so much in the run game but in the pass game as to what we really look like. I do not say that is only on the quarterback. It’s on the receivers, the coaches, protections. Of Payton (Thorne’s) nine incompletions, I felt like five should have been caught. It makes a difference in those games, and it makes a difference in how you perceive the play of the quarterback. We are still searching some. I have been honest about that. We have to improve.

On working with OC Philip Montgomery

“It’s an evolving thing. Obviously, there are strengths to Monty’s game and play-calling. I’ve done it for a long time. We collaborate really well together. We are still searching for what is the best way for our football team to play games. Every gameplan, I know what is on the call sheet and certainly have the freedom to step in and make a call if I want. Monty has made some good calls. We haven’t executed a lot of calls that were really good.

“There are things I know and probably am better at. I was a high school coach, and I have had to play with a lot of different quarterbacks and have done some different things. He’s awesome to work with. I think it will be a good collaboration going forward.”

On Auburn’s running game

“We had a good plan. Our kids executed it somewhat in a good way. I think we can build on that. We rushed (for 219 yards) against one of the best defenses in the country. We should be able to do that week in and week out if we can clean up the third-and-threes and third-and-fours, especially in the fourth quarter. Those third downs on both sides, I think were the difference in the game. We couldn’t get off the field on third-and-long and we couldn’t convert on third-and-short.”

On recruiting philosophy and the transfer portal

“I don’t know that it matters what my philosophy is anymore. I would like to sign high school players and develop them. That’s the old way of thinking. I don’t know if any coach can answer that question, because you don’t know how many you are going to lose. If you lose x-amount, you have to get x-amount out of the portal.

“The process of becoming has kind of been lost. It used to be you would develop a kid for two years, and his third year he is ready to roll. Is that possible today with a large percentage of kids? I don’t know. This will be an interesting portal period, to see how everybody reacts. At some point, you’d think it has to settle down.”

On priority in recruiting

“Wide receiver. D-line, o-line, quarterback, all of them are important, but we have to get some guys in the receiver room that can separate and win some one-on-ones.”

On Auburn atmosphere

“You have heard about the Auburn culture and Auburn family and Auburn people, but the way they have embraced our new staff and our players and our families is overwhelming and humbling. I haven’t experienced a greater fan base than I have here. I think they are the best. Jordan-Hare is an incredible place to play. Our people are super supportive, and that helps with recruiting.”

Earlier talk on rivalries and future schedules

“Let’s really clarify that. I have no clue what is going on with future schedules. That hasn’t come to the coaches at all. What I totally meant by that was there are a lot of great rivalries in our conference. New teams are coming, and I think it’s going to be an exciting brand of football. If there should be years you’re not playing some, that would be disappointing to some people.”

On Auburn’s defense

“Very pleased, other than a few breakdowns that cost us. If we can play a complete game like we played in the first two quarters against A&M and against Georgia, that would be nice. I think part of that is depth. We aren’t playing many people on that side of the football. “

On secondary fighting injuries

“They are having to play a lot of snaps. We lost Keionte Scott. Jaylin Simpson goes down in the fourth quarter. We are kind of thin back there. I love these kids we recruited. They are just young. They go in and do some good things and some not-so-good things. I do believe they are very talented.”

On what improved performance against Georgia meant

“There are no moral victories in the SEC. Does it mean we are a little closer to closing the gap? Maybe, but it was one Saturday. We have to do it for a long stretch, and we are not very deep. I think that showed in the fourth quarter. It’s concerning when you start stacking the whole schedule together.

“I look forward to when we have a full recruiting class, even if it’s just one, to join our team and give us some depth. We played a good, quality football team really close. There are a lot of positives you can take from that, but that one Saturday doesn’t say we’ve arrived at some benchmark yet.”

On plans for open week

“I have done off-weeks the same. I’ve done it all along. There will be recruiting, obviously, involved, which I have done today and speaking in Birmingham and lunch. We will have two really good practices Tuesday and Wednesday and then have a lighter practice Thursday. Thursday will be a shell because most of the coaches will be on the road recruiting Thursday and Friday.”

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#PMARSHONAU: The answer for unequal football schedules? There isn't one

An issue with no real solution

In the 21st century, Auburn has played eight regular-season football games against teams ranked No. 1 in the nation. More telling, outside of those games, Auburn has played 12 regular-season games against teams that eventually won national championships but weren’t ranked No. 1 at the time. That stands alone among Power 5 college football programs. No one else is close.

Therein lies an issue in college football for which there is no real solution. It’s not an Auburn thing. Unequal schedules are an unfortunate part of the landscape in a sport in which the teams that eventually play for championships are chosen by a committee.

If Alabama played Georgia every season, one or the other wouldn’t have accomplished all they have. Clemson has won two national championships and become a national power against a watered down ACC schedule.

SEC teams have won 13 of the past 16 national championships. Six SEC programs have won national championship since 1988. No other conference has six teams that have won national championships ever.

Who you play matters. The strongest team remaining on Georgia’s schedule might be Kentucky or might be Tennessee. Maybe Missouri. LSU, for instance, still has to play Auburn, Alabama, Missouri, Florida and Texas A&M. It has already played Florida State in a virtual road game and at Ole Miss. No comparison, obviously.

Speaking of Kentucky, the Wildcats are getting lots of love after hammering Florida. Before that game, they had beaten Ball State, Akron, Eastern Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Lots of teams would be 5-0 against that schedule.

How many teams would willingly take on what Auburn has faced and still faces: Consecutive games at Texas A&M, at home against No. 1 Georgia, at LSU and at home against Ole Miss? Not many. How many would run that gauntlet without losing? Probably none.

A team can play a weak schedule and still be the nation’s best. But a team that played a brutal schedule and lost two games might be just as strong. That is just the way it is. Unequal schedules are an issue in the NFL, too. There is nothing to be done about it.

Playing the SEC’s best is nothing new for Auburn. Before divisions, Auburn played Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee every season. Even after divisions, LSU became a fixture on the schedule and then Texas A&M.

Texas and Oklahoma, sitting at 5-0 going into Saturday’s Red River Rivalry game, will join the fun next season. No doubt, it will be different. New rivalries will be born. It will still be difficult.

Despite what national pundits say, the strength of the SEC remains. This season, with the possible exceptions of Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, any team can beat any other team on a given Saturday. Going through that grind is a massive challenge. Next season, it will be more of a challenge.

Schedules won’t be equal. They won’t always be fair. They can't be. Complaining about it is a waste of time.

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Auburn’s Oscar Chapman named the Week 5 Ray Guy Award Punter of the Week

Updated: Oct. 03, 2023, 1:16 p.m.|Published: Oct. 03, 2023, 11:24 a.m.

2–3 minutes

10/29/22: Auburn, Alabama, USA; Oscar Chapman (91) makes a punt during the game Auburn vs Arkansas Todd Van Emst /AU Athletics Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

After punting for over 250 total yards in a 27-20 loss to No. 1 Georgia, Auburn’s Oscar Chapman was named the Ray Guy Award Punter of the Week.

Chapman had five punts against Georgia, highlighted by a 71-yard boot at the end of the first half — albeit that was aided by Georgia selling out for the block and getting some fortunate bounces. He had an average punt of just over 50 yards and only had one punt returned. It was returned for -6 yards.

His punts were downed inside the Georgia 20-yard line three times and inside the Georgia 5-yard line twice.

After a punt in the second half that forced Georgia to start the ball on its own two-yard line, Georgia quarterback Carson Beck led a 98-yard touchdown drive that wound up as one of the most crucial moments in the game.

This is the second time in Chapman’s career with more than 50 yards per punt in a single game. He averaged 56 yards per punt against Ole Miss in 2021 but only punted three times that day.

So far in 2023, his last season with Auburn, Chapman has 22 punts for 941 total yards. That comes out to about 43 yards per punt. He had five punts this year of more than 50 yards and nine downed inside the 20-yard line.

Chapman was on the preseason Ray Guy Award Watch List, given to the best punter in the nation at the end of each season.

Matt Cohen covers Auburn sports for AL.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @Matt_Cohen_ or email him at mcohen@al.com

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Apologies for the late start posting i have my hours mixed up from the crud. i hope all is well with everyone!

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