Auburn Preview (by spike)

I don’t much feel like recapping today’s game for obvious reasons. Wisler pitched pretty well, but the offense couldn’t score if you spotted them a thousand bucks and dropped them off in Bangkok. Here’s an Auburn preview instead.

“Farthest from your mind is the thought of falling back; in fact, it isn’t there at all. And so you dig your hole carefully and deep, and wait” – 506 PIR Currahee Scrapbook

To be an Auburn man is to understand that you are forever surrounded by bigger, more prominent, better funded state-name schools on all sides. It’s the kind of thing that begets patience, paranoia, and a bit of a mean streak. Last year’s season was a setback, no doubt. But you’ve come a long way baby when a setback is 8-5 as opposed to what would’ve been considered pretty good not too long ago. It does feel like the spring is back in their step this season.

They are a sexy pick for the playoff and widely considered to have a very good chance at another SEC title. There is still a schedule that has LSU, Georgia, Alabama, and the Mississippis on it every year, as well as at least one tough OOC foe in Louisville. The team looked pretty good through seven games last year only to come apart at the end, giving back all the luck they got in 2013 along with a less than stout defense.

The offense:
For a guy who started only a couple of games last year, Jeremy Johnson sure is well thought of. I suspect that’s because he looks quite a bit more like the prototypical quarterback than most. Big, tall, rocket arm and can move around in the pocket but not a run first guy like Marshall. Similarly, he’s got a lot of respected but less than fully vetted talent in the backfield with him.

Roc Thomas is explosive and Jovan Robinson was the top rated JUCO running back last season. Either is a threat to maintain Auburn’s run of SEC rushing leaders. Kerryon Johnson is an intriguing talent and an Alabama Mr. Football that looks to come in as a change of pace playmaker. The receiving corps is anchored by veterans Duke Williams and Ricardo Louis with plenty of depth.

Despite losing one of its historically great players in Reese Dismukes, Auburn’s o-line figures to be as good or potentially even better and a lot deeper. Avery Young figures to be a potential first round pick at tackle, and Kozan, Golson, and Coleman all have experience. Guard Braden Smith has been a beast this spring. I think we can all agree that a Gus Malzahn offense figures to be a good to great one year in and year out at this point.

The defense:
Well this is where it all went pear-shaped last year. And yet having said that, there is plenty of reason to think things will be much different. Will Muschamp has earned his rep of being a defensive guru, and bringing along Travarious Robinson and luring away Lance Thompson from Alabama will help.

As with the offense, the talent is already there. The big name of course is Carl Lawson, all-SEC freshman DE who was lost last year to injury. He has looked every bit as good post rehab. DTs Montravious Adams is an NFL lock when he decides to go, and redshirt Dontavious Russell also figures to start upfront. Bluest of blue chips Byron Cowart may well see significant time this year. Auburn gets back it’s best two linebackers in Kris Frost and Cass Mckinzey. Auburns secondary got torched regularly last year, but brings in experienced newcomers Tray Mathews formerly of Georgia and Blake Countess, all big 10 from Michigan to shore things up immediately. There’s not much depth in back, but the starters look a lot better.

Special teams:
Auburn routinely has a very good kicking game which dropped off a wee bit last year as Daniel Carlson had to do the punting as well as placekicking and field-goals. Ian Shannon figures to take over the punting this year and lighten the load. They have plenty of talented open field runners to get a return game going again, but fumbles killed them last year. That has to change.

Most Auburn fans can’t wait for the season to start, but then again we felt that way last year too. Still, scheduling favors us, as much as it can anyway, getting Georgia and Bama at home. Couple that with an offense that should be as good as ever and a defense that figures to improve a ton, and you get a great chance of going a long way. Too much has to go right for Auburn to go undefeated, but 10-1 should get them to Atlanta, and that’s what I’m going with. If that pans out, I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t win two more and carry on with their every year or so appearance in the national championship.

It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger these days – feels like the program will be elite for a long time to come. And if it doesn’t work out this year, well, we will dig our hole carefully and deep and wait.

74 thoughts on “Auburn Preview (by spike)”

  1. Braves news for 8/30

    1) Austin Riley doubled
    2) Austin Riley also homered
    3) I think that makes him second in our system with 12, behind Jacob Schrader’s 14

    Also Ron, I mean John Gant pitched a doozy for Miss, 7 IP, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 H, 7 K

    His first 6 starts with Miss, 35.0 IP, 39 K, 11 BB, 1.54 ERA, 1 HR allowed

  2. The “playing the game the right way” mantra seems to have disappeared from the major-league broadcasts. Thankfully so, but still not a good trend. “Hunting for outs” is still de rigeur unfortunately.

  3. I don’t care who is in the backfield, Auburn would get 5 yards a carry with an invalid in that system.

  4. AU puts a premium on recruiting lineman and kickers. Not so much anymore, but for a minute it was a Moneyball type of market inefficiency.

  5. Auburn’s most important opponent is the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, and they’ve won that game for another year. This past spring, the committee tabled the proposal that would have standardized the ineligible receiver downfield rule to the NFL’s one-yard zone. They instead made enforcement of the existing three-yard buffer a “point of emphasis,” meaning you’ll see a few more calls of that foul in the first month and then it’ll be business as usual by the end of the season.

    Serious question, AU fans: is there any valid football-related reason to let linemen continue to sell a run block one, then two, then three yards upfield, force the defense to commit to the run, and then be able to say “nope lol pass gotcha?” I suppose the counterargument is “offense is exciting,” but at some point you become arena football and it feels cheap.

    I actually believe Auburn would be an elite team without these gimmicks because they’ve been recruiting at an elite level for the past 5+ years, but they’re also an avatar for how college football is turning into one big Madden glitch. Not that as a Bama fan I need any more reasons to hate Auburn, but y’all are just the gift that keeps on giving, sports-hate wise.

  6. What is the reason to disallow it? You like low scoring football, or prefer institutionalized advantage for whoever has the biggest front 7?

  7. @2 Don’t forget the enigmatic Yean Carlos Gil. He was more Dr. Carlos than Mr. Gil last night.

  8. @7, I don’t mind low scoring football per se. I like defense just as much as I like offense. I think the game is best when there’s a balance and a meaningful battle between the two. The linemen-three-yards-downfield pop pass tilts it too far in favor of the offense though, because as a defender you’re put in a no-win situation where you can’t commit to stopping either the run or the pass, because both options are in play for most of the duration of the action.

    I think that rule as written is basically an accident of history; good on Malzahn for cleverly lawyering his way through it in the short run, but it’s time for football to close the loophole in the long run.

  9. The schools that have the biggest built in advantages always have a vested interest in The Way We’ve Always Done It as it maximizes their recruiting advantage and minimizes the need for tactical coaching. After failing to ban the hurry up no huddle offense for “player safety” the next logical step is to try and minimize the options to the offense. It restores the advantages of athleticism and depth and decreases the need for tactical thinking and player discipline.

  10. Reese Dismukes?
    was he one of those precocious flukes?
    his name so non pareil
    whatever happened, we anticipate he didn’t die.

  11. So why have a rule in the first place? Do you want to let linemen run-block five yards downfield before a pass is thrown? Eight? Twelve? Should we also scrap the requirement that the QB be behind the line of scrimmage when he throws a forward pass? It would lead to a lot of interesting formations, strategies, and upsets (at least for a while).

    I’m looking for football-related arguments as to why this gimmick should be allowed to stand and I’m getting odd parity-related arguments with a healthy dose of Auburn Inferiority Complex (TM) mixed in.

    I find the tactical coaching point especially interesting, because what this era of offense really does is drastically reduce tactical coaching on one entire side of the ball. (It just happens to be the side of the ball that Auburn was deeply uninterested in from the time Tuberville was fired to the time Muschamp was brought on.) Read this article on Saban’s pattern-matching scheme and keep insinuating that he wins just by recruiting the best players and rolling the ball out. Seriously, see how much of it you, or any of us without an extensive football coaching background even understand. I know most of it gets by me.

    So the maddening thing here is that under the current rules you can break all that defensive tactical coaching apart just by being able to sucker some poor corner into biting on the run when the offensive line is selling the run three-plus yards downfield, three seconds into the play. I can literally do that playing Tecmo Super Bowl and I’m no football genius. Maybe that’s more feature than bug for some, because it puts system babies on equal footing with NFL-caliber athletes in some situations. But overall I think it’s a brute-force hack that’s bad for football.

  12. I just find the concern being coincident with pressure from not just Auburn but the rest of the football world to be a little bit shall we say intriguing. Advocating for a rule change to return to the days of the team that sends out the most 4 and 5 star players wins seems a lot more parochial to me, but YMMV

  13. I’m at an outdoor festival and can’t really going to detail but will happily do so on my return

  14. LOL Barves.

    Are there any Braves fans at this game or are they all Yankee fans? I hope no Braves fans are having to endure this in person.

  15. wo .. the starting pitching on this team is BAD .. we gave up a good one in Alex Wood .. Shelby Miller and Alex were the 2 best .. jury still out on Wisler and Folty ,.. Teheran is just so inconsistent .. hope we have some more options in minor or coming off injury

  16. Hard to see even Fredi surviving 4 more weeks of this. But then again pre 91 Braves fans, like the Russian people, were capable of limitless suffering

  17. I just tuned in for the 7th. It was a ballgame at that point at 8-5. Because I started watching it is now 17-5. Don’t mention it.

  18. We all like to glamorize past suffering, but I feel like this exact moment — Yankee after Yankee crossing the plate against an assembly line of no-hopers, to wild cheering from the crowd, a day after a fan died at the stadium — is the lowest point in franchise history. Powell and Sutton are at their absolute bitterly moralizing worst.

  19. Adonis Garcia is amazing

    @35, I was going to say a minute ago, that I think that was the worst half inning of Braves baseball I’ve ever experienced, but I feel like I might be forgetting one

  20. .270 with 7 hr and 8 doubles in 126 ab. Only problem is he’s as allergic to walks as Dorn

  21. Yanks relief pitcher obviously hits an RBI double off Brigham. Have we seen enough of young Brigham?

  22. Brigham, Jake
    As a pitcher, a fake
    Each performance, a steaming pile
    Each meatball hit a screaming mile

  23. Some folks on here in the preseason thought this steaming pile might contend for the division. Others looked at this joke of a lineup and said we’d finish closer to last than first.


  24. @51

    Presumably Edwin Jackson, therefore I expect the Yankees to score at least three and set the Turner Field record.

  25. Dear Fredi, I’m watching today. Why isn’t a position player pitching?!?!

    Will we win any more games this year? We won, what, 4 games in September in 2012; I think this bunch can easily be worse than that.

  26. We will be 54-76 after this game. That means we’ve gone 12-32 (.273) after a 42-42 start. 100 losses is still a long shot but it’s looking more feasible. Now we’ll have to go 8-24 (.250) the rest of the way to reach 100 losses.

  27. Until the lineup gets some MLB level power, this team will continue to go nowhere. Yes, the relief pitching is barely AA quality, but the lineup is terrible. Markakis at .300 but with 2-3 HR isn’t going to cut it. This is 2015, not 1915. The teams that win hit HRs and a lot of them. I’ve been saying it for years that until the Braves invest in some PROVEN HR hitters at the MLB level the team was going nowhere. It’s just my opinion.

  28. Oh, and its time for Fredi to be shown the door and truly start over. Like all the way over.

  29. @57 This team has averaged 2 wins/week since the All-Star Break (12 wins in 6 weeks), so 8-24 would be the exact record this team would have over the last month at the current rate. However, it is September; I would truly be shocked if the Braves could pull out 8 wins this month. I mean, I’d be really, really shocked.

    That being said, can we please sweep Washington this week? We can then lose every other game this season, and I wouldn’t care. But let’s help keep the 2015 World Champs out of the postseason.

  30. @61 A pitcher that’s 5’11 but with a ‘live arm’… This franchise has become a laughingstock.

  31. #35
    Was best to watch this game on DVR x3 speed. Relentless & unpretty, yes, but at least it was quick.

    I entertained the thought that last night was, sadly, emblematic of the 2015 season. But yeah, today was a new franchise low. Somewhere, Frank Wren might be touching himself.

  32. Power would be nice, but the teams that win consistently are the ones that pitch the hell out of the ball (see Cards and Giants). Our pitching is absolutely awful outside of Miller and once-in-a-blue-moon-Teheran. I guess it will get better next season, because it can’t get much worse.

    I still don’t get trading Alex Wood. Is Olivera going to be that much better than Adonis Garcia? Wood is definitely much better than most of the pitchers on our roster.

  33. Do I need counseling or are the Yankees somehow less hateable this year. I hated them last year and they had McCann,so that’s not it. It just seems like the endless ESPN Yankee love fest has not been as evident this year. Again, I probably need counseling.

  34. Look at their payroll commitments & feel free to re-consider your stance.

    As I say to my Yankee friends all the time, “You’re going to be paying for that ’09 WS title for a long time.”

  35. Smitty, I don’t think it’s quitting. The talent just isn’t there. Teheran sucks this year. But I certainly agree with your point that Fredi hasn’t shown much ability to motivate a struggling team.

  36. Stephen Drew came into the game hitting .192 but he reached safely all 6 times today while going 4-4

  37. I’m seeing a lot of blowouts by several different teams at this time of year. if we were getting shut out I would agree we’d given up. At least we’re scoring a few runs. The pitchers that are getting bombed have all the incentive in the world to do well, they’re just bad. I guess Teheran could be the exception but he’s been doing better until recently.

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