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Heading Down the Back Stretch and Turning Home

By on October 30th, 2017 in Football, News 16 Comments »

Auburn safety Tray Matthews and a depleted Auburn secondary hopes to be at full strength for the last third of the season. (photo: USA TODAY Sports )

Auburn got a well-deserved break this past week after dismantling Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks for the second year in a row. And boy was it needed. The walking wounded on the roster read like a who’s who of Auburn players. The O-line has been shifted around all season, and the secondary has been a patch-work.

After eight games without an off week, the Tigers (6–2, 4–1 SEC) were pretty beat up on both sides of the ball. In Fayetteville offensive lineman Darrius James had to be carted off the field for the second time this year. The good news is James and most of the injured may be back this week for the Tigers’ game against Texas A&M (5–3, 3–2).

Although the two losses on the schedule maybe, coulda, shoulda been wins, the Tigers are fortunate to be 6-–2 heading into the last third of the season, considering they’ve had to start five different lineups on the offensive line. 

Center Casey Dunn was injured at LSU and has been out for most of the last two games, and left guard Mike Horton has been in and out of the lineup, including missing all of the Arkansas game. Both are hopeful for Saturday. Reports out of Auburn say the three linemen returned to the practice field in limited action Sunday.

The best news for the offense is the Tigers may have both running backs (Kerryon Johnson 

and Kam Pettway) almost healthy and available together for the first time since early last season.  K.J. is getting closer to 100 per cent, but it remains to be seen how much Pettway can be used. His plantar fasciitis needs rest ,and if Offensive Coordinator Chip Lindsey calls his number a lot, it could seriously hinder his ability to play against Georgia the next weekend.

On the other side of the ball, defensive end Marlon Davidson has been slowed by a nagging knee injury this fall, and the two-week rest should put him at his best since the start of the season. Linebacker Tré Williams has been dealing with a shoulder injury that kept him out of three games. He returned to play in Fayetteville.

However, the biggest concern has been with a razor-thin secondary. Injured players include Tray Matthews, Jeremiah Dinson, Javaris Davis, and Carlton Davis. Matthews, the leader on defense, has sat out most of the last two games with a hamstring injury.

Although Davis looked okay against Arkansas, he played injured, which is something a lot of Tigers have had to do. Defensive Coordinator Steele said, “Dinson is probably the one that has played the most with the most pain.”

The depleted secondary has forced Steele to be creative the last few games, moving players around like Safety Stephen Roberts to shore up the corner position. Like Lindsey, Steele feels good about getting most of his guys back.

A nearly healthy team and the Arkansas win should give the Tigers momentum as they head down the back stretch to face a dangerous Aggie team in College Station before turning for home and a tough Amen Corner.


  1. audude audude says:

    Football and life are about “what ifs” and almost. Lets hope that the team really is getting healthy AND can build of the successes they have had ….especially taking the little pigs to the wood shed! I believe we are in for some very competitive games for the rest of the year (hopefully not Mercer). I can’t wait to see what comes down the pike!


  2. ATM, why are rs saying Auburn controls its destiny? LSU wins out and they go to SEC championship. Right?

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      Your right. LSU is in the position that Auburn would be in now if not for the melt down in Baton Rouge.

      I suspect those rs are saying that for two reasons. One at present Auburn is in 2nd place in the West with one SEC loss and LSU is 3rd with 2 SEC losses (with one loss to East team Fla).

      Second, they are expecting Bama to take care of LSU this weekend giving the Bayou Bengals 2 SEC losses. 'Then' Auburn would control their own destiny (but it would take two big wins over the No.1 and No.2 teams in the nation).

  3. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Wha, wha, wait! LSU beat UF 17-16. They have 1 conference loss.

    • AUNation AUNation says:

      I am confused by that as well EasyE. If AU and LSU both win out LSU would go to ATL because LSU would own the tie break against us and bama, even though they lost to MSU. Not sure why or how the SEC West standings have us in second place above LSU right now…

      But ATM's second reason is valid. Most people are just conceding the fact that bama will beat LSU this weekend, and that's a pretty safe bet. Then AU will have ATL in their hands to win or lose. If we can knock off #2 then #1, THEN face (formerly) #2 again in ATL, it will be a run for the ages. First things first though, gotta handle business in College Station this weekend or we will have our hope balloon deflated once again like it was in Baton Rouge.

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      Right again. Must have been a brain fart. I wrote about Fla's record just the other day. Although Auburn is still listed on the official SEC site in 2nd place due to having a 4-1 conference record and LSU with a 3-1 SEC record. Auburn needs LSU to lose but the Bengals still hold a tie breaker over Auburn if they both end up with the same conference record.

  4. Orangeblood says:

    I think LSU ‘s got 2 losses coming. They Will lose to bama and probably TAM or ( cough- cough) Arky.

    The opportunities ahead are simply amazing:
    1). Break and Ride the Aggies back to the Coral.
    2) Slap a big muzzle on the Dawgs.
    3) Then blow up the Red Empires Death Star and Auburn would be the Darth Tigers and surely be in the Top 5.

    Would likely face the Dawgs in SECCG…Chain em up at their own doghouse and AU would have to be in Playoffs.

    If you want to be the best!!’
    Then , Beat the best.
    Its do or die here forward.

    Tigers were second best in SEC last year, went to Sugar because we were as good/bad as anybody else.

    Currently I think AU is 3rd best in the conference. Ahead of the corndogs. They made some plays in 2nd half while Gus was sacking the bats. AU can win its way up. Gotta play inspired ball.

    P.S. I want to see Gus make some phenomenal coaching moves, and slay the “can’t win the big ones” moniker.

  5. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Soo; we must pull for Alabama Saturday to beat LSU?


    • AUNation AUNation says:

      Ehh, I will watch the game but I don’t plan to cheer either way. I am Sweden. I will look on while the world goes to war with interests on both sides. Yes, if bama wins it helps AU, but I agree with Orangeblood above. I’m guessing that LSU will drop another one either way. And the idea of the representative from the SEC West having a loss on their resume to Troy turns my stomach… If LSU wins, I’ll never be heartbroken over a bama loss and hearing half the state whine about how they somehow cheated.

  6. audad says:

    Interesting the Tigers have been established as 15 pt. favorites this Saturday, but I’m sure that’s as a result of the Aggies just getting trounced on their home turf by MSU. Talent wise, we should be two TD favorites especially if back to being anywhere close to full health. Auburn fans get nervous every time about these types of games, and rightfully so. Play to their ability (and not coach like morons) and that point spread should be easily covered; play like the second half in Baton Rouge (and coach like they did there) and we will be pulling our hair out again.

  7. ausouthal says:

    I will have to say this has been one of the most forgetful years for Auburn football. Why can't those among us who want a coaching change just wait till the season is over. Auburn lost to LSU after being ahead by 20 points at the half. Penn State was ahead of Ohio State by 15 heading in to the fourth quarter. Both lost. Is Franklin being ridiculed for letting his team crash and burn.

    In both instances that is what makes college football what it is. We know who is supposed to win but we watch to see who is going to win. The upset. The overcoming of obstacles when it looks like it is over. Winning every game by 30 points on average like bama is not what made the game popular. I hated to lose to LSU and I ranted for hours after the game. But boy I love college football when it really is college football.

  8. GreenvilleAUfan GreenvilleAUfan says:

    Auburn is 15 point favorite at Kyle Field. Tigers have to be leery of a trap game. Need to put the pedal to metal down fast and keep it there!