Kerryon Johnson, Nation’s No.2 Athlete Commits to Auburn

By Posted on: April 15th, 2014 in Football 1 Comment »
-822b59ea091dab59kerry Johnson

                                                                                                                                  (photo:Bob Gathany, al.com)
One of the top players in the state of Alabama and the nation’s No. 2 athlete, Kerryon Johnson committed to Auburn this afternoon.

The 6-foot, 200-pound 5-star running back rushed for 1,784 yards and 28 touchdowns at Madison Academy. He also had 67 tackles and five interceptions on defense and help lead Madison Academy to back-to-back 3A State Football Championships.

Johnson who finished third in the Mr. Football voting this year was recruited by several of the top programs in the country but made his final decission choosing between Auburn, Alabama, and Florida State.

In making the announcement, Kerryon said that his commitment was firm and that he plans to be at Auburn for next year’s spring practice. He said the family atmosphere was a real selling point for him. “I feel great at Auburn and I wouldn’t expect that to change.”

Video of Kerryon Johnson’s 2013 season highlights:

                            

Bret Bielema is Obsessed With Auburn and Gus Malzahn

By Posted on: April 15th, 2014 in Football 15 Comments »
13705944-standard - Julie Bennett

                                                                                                                                   (photo:Julie Bennett, al.com)
For some strange reason, Arkansas coach, Bret Bielema seems to have a problem with Auburn or is it with Gus Malzahn? Shortly after coming to Fayetteville, he fired off a verbal attack on the Hurry- Up-No-Huddle Offense in the SEC’s spring meeting.

He followed up that barrage in June by submitting a proposal to the NCAA to change the rules to give the defense 15-second substitution periods after each first down – even if the offense didn’t substitute.

When the press asked  Malzahn for his reaction to the proposal the next month at SEC Media Days, Gus said, “To tell you the truth, when I first heard about it, I thought it was a joke.” Later, Bielema fired back in his usual pugnacious way, “I’m not a comedian.” Of course the press fanned the sparks of that “comedian” comment into a fire that engulfed the national media.

During the week before the 2013 Auburn -Arkansas game, Bret made more charges against Auburn when he implied to the press that Auburn was trying to be unethical when he received game tapes that left off a special goal line play of a two point conversion alignment.

His ostensible complaint really was of no significance since the play in question had been used in every Auburn game during the season. It was just another Bielema brouhaha. In fact it was Bielema who actually was guilty of breaking SEC rules in going public with his charges. The league rules say that if coaches question the validity of game film provided by opponents, they must report their issues to the SEC and “must not” share them with the public. But it appears the man who had been on the NCAA rules committee had no problem breaking rules.

Then the biggest controversy was created last month when he and Nick Saban took it upon themselves to get on a plane and fly to Indianapolis to address the NCAA Rules Committee in a clandestine and polemic move to get the NCAA to pass a rule slowing down the HUNH offense.

Now comes this week, when Bret told the media that his team is using the Razorback’s spring practice (again) to prepare for their game next fall with Auburn. Of course as the Hog’s head man, he has every right to use spring practice any way he chooses. But it just goes to further underscore his obsession with Auburn and Gus Malzahn.

While controversy seems to follow him (including publically leveling charges against Ohio State when he was in the Big 10), his obsession with defeating Gus has been taken to another level.

It appears that Bieliema is so intimidated by Malzahn, that defeating Gus is his number one obsession. Webster defines obsession as, “The pursuit of a favorite project or idea relentlessly and unceasingly; to be obsessed with a single person, notion, or scheme.”

Yes Bielema is obsessed, he has made it abundantly clear that handicapping Malzahn’s offense with a rule change or defeating Auburn has been a top priority since he joined the SEC. He has chosen to measure himself by slowing down or defeating Malzahn, as his yardstick for success.

Some coaches measure themselves a different way. Some want to have a winning record, some want to go to a bowl game, some want to compete for championships and then there are some, like Bielema, who want to outdo one coach. That folks, is an obsession.

A-Day Is a Time for Fun; Nothing More

By Posted on: April 14th, 2014 in Football 4 Comments »
A-Day

Saturday is another one of those milestones. A-Day means we are one step closer to the start of the 2014 college football season. As writer Phillip Marshall noted over the weekend, there are lots of things to do this Saturday, just don’t expect to learn much about the Auburn football team.

“You can tailgate like it was an October Saturday,” writes Marshall. “You can go to the bookstore and buy souvenirs. You can visit the raptor center. You can show your kids where you lived and explain to them that you were a dedicated student who never stayed out later than 9 p.m. You can walk by the new dorms on Donahue Drive and marvel at all the construction that is under way on campus. You can drink lemonade at Toomer’s Drugstore.

“You can do all those things and more. But one thing you can’t do is get any real idea about what is going to happen next season by watching the spring game.”

Amen to that Phillip.

Historically A-Day hasn’t been a place for breakout performances from future stars. Cam Newton barely made an appearance in 2010. Last year gave no indication of what was ahead.

With last year’s seniors gone and this year’s freshmen in the midst of prom season, look for a lot of names on the field that won’t be making cameos this fall.

If you remember to do only one thing, be sure to print out an A-Day roster before walking in the stadium. Forget it, and it’ll feel like you’re sitting at an Arena football game without beer.

The biggest question this week is whether Auburn will top last year’s attendance of 83,000 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. With the game falling on Easter Weekend, it may prove difficult.

If you are planning on attending, there’s lot to do before and after the game. Bo Jackson will be leading his Bo Bikes Bama ride through Auburn starting at 9:30 a.m. and originating from the Jules Collins Smith Museum.

At halftime they’ll honor last year’s SEC Championship Team. Following the game, they’ll be an autograph session on the field that will run for approximately one hour. If you are still looking for more, Auburn baseball is in action at Plainsman Park where they host South Carolina.

Saturday is a day to bring the family and take in Auburn, with less of an emphasis on football. And that’s OK. A-Day at Auburn is always special. Coming off last year’s incredible run, this weekend will be a day to celebrate and look ahead.

It’s one of my favorite days of the year.

See you Saturday.

Auburn – Bama Play Important Weekend Series (update:3rd game AU falls in 9th)

By Posted on: April 11th, 2014 in Baseball 2 Comments »
Jordan Ebert leads the SEC in hitting with a .388 batting average.(Zach Bland,Auburn media)

Auburn’s Jordan Ebert leads the SEC in hitting with a .388 batting average. (photo:Zach Bland,Auburn media)

The Auburn Baseball Team is set to play an important game tonight at 6:30 CT when they take on Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Of course it’s always an important game anytime the Tigers take on the Tide in any sport.

However, for a mid season game, the stakes are pretty high. While the two teams record are very similar (Auburn 20-14 and Alabama 22-10); Alabama (8-4 SEC) is currently in first place in the SEC West and Auburn (5-7 SEC) is tied for last place in the West. The Tigers need to do well in this series to turn their fortunes around.

Auburn’s season had seem to be trending upward until the Tigers lost five of six SEC games, including being swept on the road at Ole Miss last weekend. Auburn bounced back on Tuesday with a 6-0 win over Troy.

Still, the Tigers will be facing one of the hottest teams in the league when they go against the Tide. Bama is ranked No.10 in the nation and riding a wave of momentum having won 18 of their last 23 games including a 16-4 home record.

It will be a huge challenge but it’s doable. The Tigers have the SEC’s third best team batting average (.295) and average 9.6 hits and 4.7 runs per game; while Auburn is allowing 8 hits and 3.8 runs per game. The pitching has a 2.97 ERA and holding opponents to a  .237 hitting average.

“It’s a big series with them being in first place and us being tied right now for last,” Head Coach Sunny Golloway said. “That’s just how tight our league is. Everything could flip-flop in one week.”

Auburn desperately needs a flip-flop too because it doesn’t get any easier from here on out with SEC series remaining against Arkansas, No. 5 South Carolina, No. 17 Mississippi State, No.12 Kentucky, and No.16 LSU.  The Tigers could put themselves back in the race if they could take two of three games in Tuscaloosa.

Lets go Tigers … Beat Bama!  

Update: 4-11-14:
Dillon Ortman pitched 7 strong innings and Keegan Thompson came on in relief to throw two shutout innings as the Tigers beat No. 10 Alabama 2-1. Game 2 will be at 6 p.m. tomorrow.
Update:4-12-14:
Auburn played great defense but struggled at the plate, dropping  Saturday’s game 4-1. Tigers will go for the series win in the rubber game on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Update: 4-13-14:
Auburn took a 3-3 tie game into the 9th inning and Alabama’s Casey Hughston hit a walk-off 2 out single for a 4-3 bad guys win. Tigers play at Samford Tuesday night before returning home to face No. 5 South Carolina.

Putting the Hammer Down!

By Posted on: April 10th, 2014 in Football 9 Comments »
Spring shakeup

There’s a shakeup on the offensive line, this week.
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     War Eagle, everybody. Spring proceeds on. Gone are the frosty mornings, having been replaced by mercurial, stormy weather and torrential rains. The days have gotten longer, and Auburn’s football team is still hard at work preparing for the 2014 season. In these last two weeks of spring drills, here’s what head coach Gus Malzhan had to say: “We’ve got two more weeks and we’ve got to put the hammer down and we’ve got to make sure we get better.”

     The big news this week from spring drills is an apparent shake-up on the offensive line. Sophomore Avery Young has been moved from right tackle to right guard, and junior Patrick Miller has been moved back to his old stomping grounds at right tackle. That leaves senior Chad Slade as the odd man out in the starting lineup. Slade is doing reps at left guard this week, backing up Alex Kozan. Is this a permanent move by the coaches? They have been quoted as saying that the move is strictly to create depth, but I’m not so sure.

     This past Tuesday’s practice footage featured a heavy dose of offensive line work, starting about 1:20 into this video clip. Folks, this is what it’s like to be an offensive lineman in camp. Coach Grimes definitely did not seem happy during this drill. My favorite section is where he tells the linemen (particularly Reese Dismukes) that they can cook their BBQ any way they want to; he’s not going to tell them what to do. Then coach Grimes barked, “But when it comes to this (expletive), we’re going to do it the way I want! You got me on that?” Several do-overs were to follow.

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How Will the SEC Champions Replace Tre Mason?

By Posted on: April 9th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 6 Comments »
NCAA Football: New Mexico State at Auburn

                                                                                                                           (photo:Julie Bennett, al.com)
The NFL Draft is four weeks away and this year the first running back expected to be taken is Auburn’s Tre Mason. Last year Mason astounded all with his 23 touchdowns and 1,816 yards rushing. Tre was the leading rusher on the No.1 rushing team in the nation. A feat that made him a Heisman finalist.

He leaves behind a  legacy as one of the greatest running backs to ever play at ‘Running Back U.” His early departure for the pro’s leaves some big shoes to fill. However, the good news is – Auburn’s cupboard is full of talent. In fact, Auburn has enough stallions in the stable that promising sophomore Jonathan Ford has been permanently moved to the defense.

Looking over the list, the number one contender has to be senior Cameron Artis-Payne. He started last season sharing the carries with Mason before Tre claimed sole possession of the role. He had  two 100 yard games and finished the year with 610 yards and six touchdowns.

Artis-Payne is feeling very confident this spring. Although he recognizes he’s in a race to be Mason’s successor, he said at the beginning of spring practice that he wasn’t worried about the competition. “I just feel like I’m not going to lose.” He added, “I’m trying to be the first 2,000-yard running back in the SEC.” Got to love that attitude.

Then there is, junior Corey Grant who made a name for himself as the Tigers homerun threat last year – mostly on speed sweeps. Grant had almost a ten yard per carry average, rushing for 647 yards and six touchdowns. Some think the 5’11″, 203lb. back is not big enough to take the pounding in the middle.

However, that was also a concern about Tre Mason early in his career before he put on extra weight. News out of Auburn is that Grant has also added pounds to prove he can be an every down back. Pound for pound, he may be the strongest player on the team; and Corey said going into spring that it’s his goal to prove to the coaches that he can carry the load.

Third on most people’s list is Peyton Barber. The 5’11″, 230lb. Redshirt Freshman may be the surprise of the group. Peyton has a legitimate shot at being number one. He has the build to run it through the tackles and he has the added benefit of having played scout team running back last year. That experience gives him a year of playing against college level talent. Running backs coach, Tim Horton believes Barber has the power and the moves to be a top college back. Reports out of Auburn say he has wowed both the coaches and teammates in spring practice.

Add to this list 5-star running back Racean ‘Roc’ Thomas who will be enrolling this summer and you can easily see the coaches have several strong options to fill the vacuum left by Mason. Although Thomas hasn’t played against college level talent, the 5’11″, 200 lb.back finished his high school career at Oxford High with 6,169 yards, 82 touchdowns, and was named ‘Mr. Alabama Football.’

There is little doubt that the next Auburn running back will be a 1,000 yard rusher. To start with Malzahn has said the 2014 offense will include more of a passing game which should keep the defensive back field from playing close, giving the running backs more room to gain yardage.

Moreover, in eight years as a college offensive coordinator or head coach, Gus Malzahn has had nine players produce eleven 1,000 yard seasons. That fact coupled with a more open passing attack assures that whoever wins the job … Will pick up where Tre Mason left off.

Who do you think will replace Tre Mason as Auburn's No.1 running back?

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Return of the The Rifleman – “A Very Special Day for Auburn Basketball”

By Posted on: April 8th, 2014 in Basketball 7 Comments »
Chuck Person, Auburn's all-time leading scorer, was a 1st Round Draft pick and NBA Rookie of the year in 1986.

Chuck Person, Auburn’s all-time leading scorer, was a 1st Round Draft pick and NBA Rookie of the year in 1986.

The greatest basketball player in Auburn history is coming home to coach at his alma mater.

Chuck Person, known as the Rifleman during his All-American career at Auburn has been hired by Head Coach Bruce Pearl as an assistant coach. He helped lead the Tigers to an SEC Tournament Championship and three NCAA Tournaments  including a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 1985 and the Elite Eight in 1986.

Since Pearl’s hiring, Chuck has made no secret of his desire to return to The Plains. He said last night that’s it’s a very special day for him.

The NBA legend said, “This is the only college I would have taken a job at. My heart and my path took me to the NBA but this, Auburn University, my school, is the only job, the only school that I would come back to, to be a coach, whether it’s as a head coach or assistant coach to be a part of. This is my life. This is where I want to be. I’m home. Short of a catastrophe, nothing can take me from being here at this school.”

It’s a homerun hire for Bruce Pearl. Not only is he getting a great coach, but the Rifleman being from Alabama and having 14 years of experience in the NBA will mean a big boost to recruiting.

Pearl said, ” I don’t know if I could have made a stronger statement. This is a very special day for Auburn basketball.” We agree Coach. A very special day indeed.

Editor’s Note:
Be sure to check out Coach Person’s press conference interview below this article.

Chuck Person Says AU Basketball Will be Fast Paced Like Malzahn’s No Huddle Offense

By Posted on: April 8th, 2014 in Basketball 3 Comments »

Chuck Person says he’s on the same page with Head Coach, Bruce Pearl. Flanked by his high school coach Earl Henderson and his Auburn coach Sonny Smith, the New Auburn Basketball Assistant promised at his hiring press conference to work hard to bring success to the Auburn program.

Chuck talks in the following video about his decision and about his desire to return Auburn Basketball to prominence. He sounds like a man who is already on the recruiting trail. “We’re going to run a no-huddle offense like Coach Malzahn does with the football team.”

“We’re going to get after it,” said Person. “We’re going to play fast, play smart, play tough. We’re going to rebound and defend. It’s going to be a fun game.We’re going to shoot three’s, we’re going to have fun. We may miss some of them, but we’re going to shoot them. So if any kids out there want to come to have fun, they need to come to Auburn (because) Auburn University is the place to be.”