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Time to Get Taped Up

By on August 26th, 2013 in Football 17 Comments »

gus-malzahn-p1I’ve waited to say these words since November: It’s game week! The college football season is the shortest of all major sports. It runs three months, takes most of December off before finishing with a flurry in January. For most of us, these next few months are the most treasured on the calendar.

Let’s get started…

Auburn will take the field Saturday night as 15-point favorites against visiting Washington St. New coach Gus Malzahn will have history on his side. Doug Barfield was the last new Auburn coach to lose his opener way back in 1976, when his Tigers fell to Arizona in Tucson 31-19.

Before Barfield, the last Auburn coach to drop an opener was Jack Meagher way back in 1934. There have been close calls. Most recently, Auburn had to fight back against Appalachian St. in 1999, squeaking by with a 22-15 win…

In a great story over at, Phillip Marshall takes a look at how high school player rankings have translated into starting positions going into Saturday’s game.

Don’t say Auburn doesn’t have talent or depth. Say they haven’t had coaching. Among the starters for Saturday, 17 of the 22 players were rated 4-star or better coming out of high school by the recruiting services.

Interestingly, Trevon Reed will be the only 5-star player in the starting lineup. The other three, defensive ends Carl Lawson and Elijah Daniel and defensive tackle Montravius Adams are true freshmen who should see some playing time.

Looking at the backups, 17 of them were rated 4-star or higher. It makes last season look a whole lot worse…

Five years from now, I’m betting that Arkansas is going to kick itself for not going after Gus Malzahn. Let’s not forget that these offensive players were recruited for Malzahn’s system. While working harder than any coach in the league, Auburn’s low key approach should worry SEC West opponents.

Throw in defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, who the Alabama faithful still worship from his time there, and you see the opportunity for a fast start to the season. Don’t be shocked to see Auburn head to College Station sitting at 5-1 and ranked in the top 25.

I may be wrong, but I really believe Malzahn is poised for a big run in the coming years. Bret Bielema: Not so much…

Want a great storyline to follow? There’s none better than Shon Coleman. You’ll remember he was one of the top prep offensive lineman three years ago before being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Well, he’s back. After beating the odds, Coleman has positioned himself as the backup to Greg Robinson at left tackle. Cleared to play only a year ago, he’s wasted little time reestablishing himself as one of the top talents in the SEC.
New Auburn offensive line coach J.B. Grimes is Coleman’s biggest cheerleader.

“When they can take that bad step or a guy gives them a head move inside and they bite on it and then they go back outside, but he’s still long enough to get that outside hand on him, that’s God,” Grimes said.

“God has taken over there. That ain’t coaching. That’s the good Lord giving a guy the ability to do some things that a normal human being can’t do. I really believe Shon Coleman is one of those guys.”…

While Tre Mason has gotten all the ink in the off-season, expect Cameron Artis-Payne to see significant playing time Saturday night. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee refused to name a starter following yesterday’s practice, saying the starter will be predicated on what package they run first.

I was hopeful an official depth chart would be released following yesterday’s practice. It now appears that won’t happen until Gus Malzahn’s press conference tomorrow.


  1. dabble says:

    It reallly feels like Auburn is going to have a better year than lots lf poeple are thinkinh. We get to 5 wins headed to tx amd we could get greast momentum and end.up with ten wins this season. Some of the strong resseens why are mentiond in the article here. Add to that the ‘new broom’ attitude….and, welll, expect good things this year for the Tigers.

    I also agree ghat brett bieleliema will be looked at, from a few years peespective, as a.bad choice. Side q: did.arky pursue Gus?

  2. restless6 says:

    I also think the Baton Rouge curse will be broken. This is the year Auburn wins there.

  3. DBAU81 says:

    Last year was such a total waste that it feels like forever since we’ve really had something to cheer about and look forward to. I am confident that we will at least see a team that is well-prepared, plays like it cares, and won’t fold the first time it gets punched in the mouth. Those things, more than this season’s won-loss record, will be the best indications that we’re headed in the right direction. In particular, that first road game at LSU will be a good barometer of where we are. It could be our best chance to win one that nobody expects.

  4. tigertracker says:

    How soon we forget the 2011 Utah state opener. Believe me I’ve tried to repress that one too! I’m cautiously optimistic for this season but need to see some serious production from both lines in these first few games to give me the warm and fuzzies. If the corners don’t line up 7 yards off the ball that will be a great start as well. Sounds like we may finally have an up tempo defense to match the offense. If nothing else the weather should be nice Saturday night. War Eagle!

  5. MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

    I am trying hard to keep my expectations for this season in check but with all the positive news coming out of Auburn and the Gus Bus tuned up and fully fueled it is hard not to look for 10 wins this year. I know, I know but I can’t help myself. If we click against Wa. St. and light them up I will probably be foaming at the mouth.

  6. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    WSU is supposedly going to be able to run the ball better this season… At least enough to keep opposing defenses honest. I’ll believe it when I see it. I don’t think we will learn exactly how good we are or can be until we play MSU in week 3 and I think we win that game regardless but if we shut down the MSU rushing attack then look out LSU. This weekend we will definitely see if our DBs are as good as billed… Let’s just hope we stay healthy back there and our depth issues don’t raise their ugly head.

    Damn it’s going to be a long week!

    • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

      Maybe it’s just me but I don’t see WSU as a pushover. Much like us, they had a terrible ’12 season and will be out to prove to themselves and the country that they can play ball with anybody, especially the SEC. If WSU jumps out to an early lead will our guys react well or will they fold like they did all last season? Questions abound. No real answers until Saturday night.

      • Todd92 Todd92 says:

        While our team greatly underachieved last year (captain obvious statement, I know) WSU didn’t as much underachieve as show how down they really are. Leach was brought in to bring them back from a slide that has been nearly a decade long. Their last real success happened under Mike “it’s rollin’ baby” Price. They have an OL comprised primarily of walk ons and even last years recruiting class was well below par for the pac12. And while stars on a recruits name don’t mean everything they are a good indicator of talent level… AU has 34 4 stars or better in the projected 2 deep. I’m not sure WSU has 1. WSU had 349 total rushing yards last season…think about that one stat for a second…. 349 yards rushing for the season. And a passing team that can’t run at all had better not have 21 interceptions and have a helluva lot more than 25 TDs. Oh yeah did I mention this was against pac12 defenses? If we don’t beat the brakes off of WSU and physically dominate the line of scrimmage then we are in for a long season my friend.

        • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

          “If we don’t beat the brakes off of WSU and physically dominate the line of scrimmage then we are in for a long season my friend.”

          Exactly why I’m keeping my expectations lowish. It’s incredibly hard not to get excited and chug that Gus-ade, BUT we saw these guys last season. Last Season. I promise not to freak out if the 1st quarter looks a little dodgy…if we are still sucking wind in the 4th quarter-fasten your seat belts, party people.

  7. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    Let it begin!!! Let it begin!!!

    Thursday: NC v USC – Clowney alert
    Saturday morning: CGD – How orange will Kirk’s spray-on tan look in Clemson???
    1: Rice v TAM – How good is Johnny Football this year? Sophomore slump…
    5:30: bama v VT – until I get nauseated (15 minutes) – go cut grass
    7: WSU v A – U – B – U – R – N duh…
    8: uga v Clemson

    Would love to watch Clemson finish off uga in the second half after our boys opened a ‘can’ and VT upset bama… How great a day would that be?

  8. Malakai Malakai says:

    My biggest concern is confidence. Auburn has the talent. They have the coaches. They have the scheme. But last year left scars. We as fans felt it keenly, now imagine how the players felt? They may be slapping each other on the shoulders and laughing and walking by ‘It’s a New Day’ signs everyday at practice, but you know that deep down in the back of their mind is that little nagging feeling….what if it happens again? Can Auburn blow a play, shake it off and get back in the game mentally? I think this is one of the greatest strengths Marshall will bring to this team. He wasn’t here last year, he was winning last year. If he is a leader and if he is respected he can look those players in the eye and say, “Forget it, we have a game to win. I know we can do this. Remember who you are.”

    • War Eagle Girl War Eagle Girl says:

      I’m drinking the Gus-ade definitely but this is the only thing that worries me. Hope all that Dr.Philing will work. As for Marshall, I think that’s why Kiehl moved on, no scars from AU and lots to prove from his time at GA. I know that Gus will not stop playing until 0:00 and hope the team will follow his lead. Getting excited!!

  9. tray c rock her says:

    BEEP BEEEEEEEP!!!!!! All aboard the GusBus: First stop is a BCS National Championship. Mark my words, if a few things go our way this year we can do it. I think God is finally back on our side. Glad to see our OLine coach naming and claiming. Our family was in the wilderness in 2011 and 2012, but CGM has lead us out. You heard it here first. #Godthingpart2 WDE

  10. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    I’m trying my best to keep my expectations in check, but, it’s difficult. I would dearly love to see that we have truly come back and that we can indeed break that cursed Baton Rouge curse. I won’t be here but I do have to come home eventually and I will still be wearing my Auburn shirts, shorts, bathing suits, belts, hats, etc., etc. no matter what the score is in the local game or any other game. I will yell “WAR EAGLE” until I’m hoarse because:


    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!


  11. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    Good post Jay,

    I’m taped up and ready to go!