Friday from the Eagle’s Nest – Tigers on the Rise!

By Posted on: October 11th, 2013 in Featured Article, Football 21 Comments »
Practice from the Eagle's Nest

Week 7 of the college football season has arrived and things could not have gone much better to this point for Auburn.  The Tigers enter tomorrow’s contest against Western Carolina on a solid run that has been highlighted by inspired play, emerging talent, and week-to-week improvement. Gus Malzahn may not yet possess the firepower to infiltrate the Georgia Dome at season’s end, but he isn’t as outgunned as many believed him to be prior to the start of the season.

Black Bear Rebellion Thwarted – An impressive, hard-fought victory over Ole Miss last weekend was key for Auburn’s journey to bowl eligibility and to show that they were not reeling from their previous loss suffered at the hands of LSU. It was also Auburn’s first victory over a ranked opponent since 2011.

Passing the ‘Eye Test’ – Thus far, the Tigers have shown talent and athleticism far beyond anything seen in 2011 or 2012. In their lone loss (to LSU) the Tigers were able to hang tough and showed that their conditioning was up to par with the SEC elite.

Defense? We have a defense!? – Ellis Johnson has done a remarkable job of preparing the Tigers week in and week out. His halftime adjustments have been especially good. I eagerly await our contests with the likes of Texas A&M, Georgia, etc. to see just how we stack up against those great offenses. The Ole Miss result offers good reason to feel optimistic about the state of the Auburn Defense moving forward.

Carl LawsonFreshmen on the Rise – Another encouraging sign is the younger guys that have stepped up and made big plays for Auburn on both sides of the ball. Montravius Adams #1 and Carl Lawson #55 have both been huge sparks to the struggling defensive line and wide receiver Marcus Davis #80 has shown potential to be a very dependable target for whoever is delivering the football to him.

 

But just who will be taking snaps this weekend?

Auburn QuarterbacksJeremy Johnson or Jonathan Wallace Starting? - Either one of these guys is likely to get the nod tomorrow, but many have been debating whether or not it would be prudent for Gus Malzahn to burn the redshirt potential for Jeremy Johnson for this season. In my opinion, Johnson should play if the coaches indeed believe he could be the future at the position. He wouldn’t be likely to stay for four years post redshirt season anyhow, and the experience gained will be immeasurable. Kevin Scarbinsky agrees.

Mizzou Football vs. FurmanOther Tigers on the Rise – Don’t look now but the Missouri Tigers are 5-0 and stand poised to grab the outright lead in the SEC East if they can pull out a victory against the injury-plagued Georgia Bulldogs this weekend. While it won’t be easy to travel to Athens and wrestle away a road win from Aaron Murray and Mark Richt on their own turf, Mizzou could have its official coming out party this weekend.

 

Take it to the Bank – Kentucky Wildcat halfback, Jojo Kemp, recently guaranteed that UK would score on Alabama’s defense. I like the confidence, but you don’t provoke a wild animal before fighting it. It’s almost always better to fly under the radar, and it’s especially so in this case. Nick Saban will probably grayshirt him all the way from Tuscaloosa.

Field TripHere’s an interesting look at some of the preparation by Northwestern before their game with Ohio State last week. Though I was aware of him, I did not really know anything about Pat Fitzgerald before Auburn faced Northwestern in the Outback Bowl all the way back in Gene Chizik’s first season as head coach. Since then, I have been impressed with the way he carries himself, represents his university, and runs his football program. College football needs a lot more Pat Fitzgerald(s).

Lane Train Pulling Into Seattle, ESPN’s Gameday – Lane Kiffen, who was recently fired as head-coach of the USC football team, will make a guest appearance on ESPN’s College Gameday this weekend. It is probably safe to assume that Kiffen will soon grace some as-of-yet-undetermined ESPN show focused on football. Because if anybody knows anything about football, it’s an ex-coach that left every job he ever had in worst shape than he found it – which is impressive when you consider he was first at the Oakland Raiders during the height of Al Davis’ buffoonery, then the University of Tennessee post Phil Fulmer debacle, and most recently at the University of Southern Cal after the entire Pete Carrol/Reggie Bush soap-opera. That is some truly destructive power. There are super villains that dream of being able to carry out such fiendish schemes.

Also, don’t forget to check out the candidates for Auburn’s Miss Homecoming 2013!

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  1. sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

    Great write up. What encourages me most about Auburn’s start is the hope for the future. Whatever success these Freshmen and Sophomores achieve this year, just imagine what this team will be in a couple of years when they hit their stride and are fully integrated into the HUNH offense and 4-2-5 defense.

    I’m going to need a new set of shades every game – the lens will have melted from the heat.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..If we can just keep some of these coaches a couple of years or three, we’ll be looking pretty good, I agree!

      …..Shades… the Gulf of Mexico ate mine back in August, and I’ve been too much of a tightwad to replace them. From Ralph Lauren polarized prescription aviators to a clip-on is a big come-down. It was stupid enough for someone my age to get on a surfboard, but trusting a flimsy glasses strap was worse. I know better, because that’s not the first pair of glasses than the Gulf has yanked off my head…

      • MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

        Sorry Acid, but the mental picture of you on a surfboard made me chuckle.

      • DaZeD DaZeD says:

        Your anendote reminds me of how my moniker came to be…by divine intervention. Had a similar brain-fart when I went down to PC and decided to try some boogey-boarding in the Gulf…having totally forgot that my car key was in the pocket of my trunks.
        Had to wait 2 hours for my room-mate to drive down from Ozark with my 2nd set of keys. The only upside to that day was that “The Breakers” lounge was having a B1G1free on mixed-drinks for the duration of my wait.

  2. MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

    Two schools of thought on QBs.
    We could win Saturday with me playing quarterback. Keep Johnsons redshirt on
    Johnson is the future at QB at Auburn, start seasoning him now in a game he can easily win.
    You can make a good case either way.

    I just can’t decide which way I think is best.

    • sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

      While I’d love to see what Johnson can do, my gut tells me we need to keep his redshirt. Nick will be back next year. Burning Johnson’s redshirt now cuts his contribution potential as a starter by a full third. That would mean a recruiting hole that would need to be filled, cutting a slot we would need for another skill player like LB or DB.

      Will doing so buy us a win in College Station and beyond? Probably not on the basis of that one factor by itself. In the TAMU game the margin will be almost entirely on what another Johnson can do for us (Ellis).

      As for the rest of the games, if Nick’s injury was such that he couldn’t play, the question would be moot and the change would have already have been made. That it hasn’t means that Nick is banged up, but is just sitting an extra week to get fully healed to be ready for the second half of the season.

      I say put Wallace in. He’s perfect for this role and will give him a chance for some more game play so he can contribute as needed down the stretch.

      • MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

        Good point on using the recruiting spot for another skill player. Since AU does not elaborate on injuries and we don’t know how bad Marshalls knee is, what about this scenario. What if Marshall does not go, Wallace starts, and he gets dinged up, what them?
        QB is a position that you always have to have a back up QB ready.

        • sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

          Then we still have Johnson, with Fraiser of even Tuberville as backups. Heck, if it comes right down to it I’ll strap on a helmet and stand on the sidelines – since I never played, I’ve still got years of eligibility. Maybe they’ll let me wear #7 just for the visual impact of the name over the number.

          • MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

            If you put on a #7 jersey and stood on the sidelines there would be 85,000 people blinking, rubbing their eyes and saying “what the hell?”

          • sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

            Or die guffawing when they saw an out of shape fifty-something guy try to throw a forward pass, but sure, why not?

  3. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    The image of Saban in the background is probably very close to the correct scale.

  4. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    The Loss to LSU in 2011 was 45-10. The loss to LSU in 2012 was 12-10.

    Exactly what test has AU passed? This season they were beating us by 3 touchdowns and going for a fourth when they turned it over. We ended up scoring to make it just two.

    I am not saying this to be confrontational. I just want to understand where you see improvement. Honestly – I don’t see what you see. Yes we have a new coach but improving a program that was in the shape Auburn’s was in takes time. So AU has played some competive games with WSU, Ark State, and beaten the two Mississippi schools. Does that mean we are competitive again? Speaking for me… I don’t think so. Not yet.

    The other teams we lost against in 2011 (and that was when we were semi-competitive and after winning a NC) was Arkansas (a program that can beat us at will in Little Rock regardless if their program is down or not), Georgia (that has owned AU for most of the last decade), and bama (ditto to UGA). Add the 2012 season in it and we add Texas A&M to the mix. Do I have to repeat that score? I physically get ill everytime I think about that game.

    Before we say “we’re back”… let’s at least win one of these games.

    This program was decimated under Chizik’s watch. Far beyond anything that can be explained in mere blog. It went beyond the ability to compete talent versus talent… it affected attitude of players and their work ethic. Not to mention the confidence of the coaches. We all touted our recruiting… saying we were still in the game, yet, these same recruits are still not producing except doing so far what they did in 2011. Why is that? I don’t know. But I sure do want to understand.

    I absolutely don’t want to be a negative nancy… but you can’t escape the reality found in college football. Or stated more correctly… I can’t escape the reality of college football. Ya’ll seem to be able to. Can you pass me what your drinking?

    :)

    WDE!!

    • Derrick Roberts Derrick Roberts says:

      All fair points wde1988. I think there is a difference in being “back” to the way Auburn was in 2010 and in the 2004-2007 run AND being “back” to where we are competing in every game and on the bubble just outside of the absolute tip top of our league (‘Bama, LSU, TAM, UGA, etc.)

      Auburn is back to being a competitive and dangerous team for *almost* anyone to play. This 2013 squad is leaps and bounds ahead of what we witnessed during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. So in that sense, Auburn is “back” – to being on an upward plane towards bigger and better things.

      Don’t worry about being a negative-nancy. We’re all here to discuss Auburn football and other related topics. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in a civilized manner instead of running in, kicking a hornets nest, and hitting the eject button. Haha!

      War Eagle!

    • DaZeD DaZeD says:

      We’ve turned the corner…that, in and of itself, is an indication that we’re headed back. Last season, our defense went through the motions after having to watch an enemic effort by the offense. This season, I’m seeing a level of intensity being played by them that defies the current score. After last season, I can handle playing the role of dark horse. Last season, we were simply the other team’s beast of burden. Also, we “lost” to the two MISS schools handily. Wait for it….its worth the wait.

    • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

      In a nutshell, this is the first real SEC caliber coaching staff that has been on the field for us since 2007. Most of these kids have never really been taught how to play SEC football until last spring.

    • wpleagle says:

      LSU was a 14 point loss, 7 points of which was due to a lost center snap by the punter inside our 10. LSU was Auburn winning the second half 21 -14 and gassing the LSU defense in the 4th quarter. No koolaid, just facts.
      I’m not saying we’re BACK, but I am seeing great improvement over 2012 in many ways, not the least of which is actually utilizing the talent that’s on the roster.

  5. CapnVegetto says:

    Reading reports that Jeremy Johnson is the starting QB tomorrow.

    Discuss…..

    • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

      Either Nick is hurt pretty bad or Gus feels really good about his future QB signees.

      • CapnVegetto says:

        Nick hasn’t developed into a good passer. He is athletic but he just misses way too many damn throws. I say give the kid a shot although I might have gone with Wallace instead.

        Of course, Gus NOT going with Wallace speaks volumes. He’s willing to pull the redshirt off of JJ in lieu of playing Wallace. Either JJ is that good, or Wallace isn’t.

        So what’s the answer?

        • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

          While I do admire Wallace’ guts, I don’t see him as a SEC QB. Not even a backup. We only have 2 real SEC caliber QBs on the roster and apparently one is gimped up.

  6. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    While I do admire Wallace’ guts, I don’t see him as a SEC QB. Not even a backup. We only have 2 real SEC caliber QBs on the roster and apparently one is gimped up.