Friday from the Eagle’s Nest – Tigers on the Rise!
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.
Freshmen 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?
Jeremy 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.
Other 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 Trip – Here’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!