Time to Get Taped Up
I’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 auburntigers.com, 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.