Tre Mason rushes to the top with Auburn (AP / Dave Martin)
The case for Tre Mason and his running Auburn Tigers
Auburn's huge differential in rushing and passing continued in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday, and no one cared. The Tigers jumped to the top of most NCAA rushing charts as he continued its late-season run.
The Tigers beat Missouri 59-42 with 677 yards of offense. The running game won the day, again. The Tigers rushed for 545 yards and passed for 132.
Maybe you saw where Tre Mason rushed for 304 yards and four touchdowns. He leads the SEC in rushing with 1,621 yards.
Those numbers will carry Auburn to the BCS championship game in Pasadena.
Auburn left Atlanta ranked No. 1 in the nation in rushing yards (4,364), rushing touchdowns (46), rushing attempts (676), yards per game (335.7).
The Tigers are ranked 116th in pass attempts, 112th in completions, and 102nd in passing yards.
We posted some of these numbers with our post-game Tre Mason story. Here you go again…
Category Stat SEC/NCAA Rank Single-season rank
Rushing Yards 1,621 1st/6th 2nd at AU; 9th in SEC history
Rushing TDs 22 1st/3rd 1st at AU; 2nd in SEC history
All-Purpose Yards 2,137 1st/3rd 1st at AU; 3rd in SEC history
•1,621 rushing yards second-most in school single-season history behind Bo Jackson’s 1985 Heisman Trophy season (1,786 yards).
• 22 rushing touchdowns are a school-record, breaking Cam Newton’s previous mark of 20 set during his Heisman Trophy season in 2010.
• 22 rushing TDs are second-most ever in SEC history behind Florida’s Tim Tebow’s 23 in 2007 (Heisman Trophy winning season) and one more than Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel in 2012 (Heisman Trophy winning season) and Alabama’s Trent Richardson in 2011.
•Auburn single-season record-holder for all-purpose yards with 2,137, breaking the previous mark set by Bo Jackson in 1985 (1,859).
•In four games against Top 10 teams this season (Auburn 3-1), Mason rushed for 778 yards and eight touchdowns, an average of 194.5 yards and two TDs.
• In 9 games versus SEC opponents, has 1,289 yards rushing (143.2 ypg) and 17 touchdowns.
• Mason’s 304 rushing yards (on 46 attempts) in SEC Championship game were the most by an Auburn running back since 1944 when Curtis Kuykendall had a school-record 307 yards against Miami.
• Mason’s 304 rushing yards were the fifth most in SEC history and most since Arkansas’ Darren McFadden had 321 against South Carolina in 2007.
• Mason’s 46 rushing attempts against Missouri were a school record and second most ever by an SEC player (47 by Georgia’s Herschel Walker vs. Florida in 1981).
• Has rushed for 100+ yards in five consecutive games and a rushing TD in 10 consecutive games.
Tre Mason finds room to run against Alabama (Todd Van Emst photo)
Tre Mason moves closer to SEC rushing title...look at the Tigers and Missouri
Auburn running back Tre Mason is building his lead in the SEC rushing race.
Mason is up to 1,317 yards after his 164-yard rushing performance in Saturday's 34-28 win over Alabama on Saturday. Mason leads the league in total rushing yards, average per game at 109.8 yards and rushing touchdowns with 18.
Mason has a league-best 19 touchdowns overall and leads the league in scoring with 114 points. He'll take those stats to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta on Saturday when the Tigers play Missouri.
Chris Davis leads the SEC in punt returns…and returns of missed field goals to win the Iron Bowl. He's the one that took a missed field goal on the final play of the Iron Bowl and raced 109 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Auburn leads the SEC in rushing and is second in total offense, punt returns and red zone defense. The Tigers are third in kickoff returns, red zone offense and fewest sacks allowed.
Here's a look at how Auburn and Missouri stack up on the SEC stat sheet:
2. Missouri (38.8 points per game)
4. Auburn (38. 6 points per game)
2. Auburn (491.0 yards per game)
4. Missouri (495.5 yards per game)
1. Auburn (318.2 yards per game)
2. Missouri (236.9 yards per game)
5. Missouri (252.6 yards per game)
11. Auburn (172.8 yards per game)
2. Missouri (19.4 points per game)
5. Auburn (22.5 points per game)
2. Missouri (119.1 yards per game)
10. Auburn 157.6 yards per game)
13. Auburn (256.7 yards per game)
14. Missouri (266.3 yards per game)
Red zone offense
3. Auburn (88 percent success rate)
4. Missouri (85.7 percent success rate)
Red zone defense
2. Auburn (opponents 70.5 percent success rate)
5. Missouri (opponents 81.1 percent success rate)
Fans cheer their Tigers on Iron Bowl eve
The biggest crowd of the season showed up at the Auburn athletic complex to cheer their football team Friday as they boarded buses for an overnight trip out of town. Oh, Auburn will be busing back Saturday for one of the biggest Iron Bowls ever.
It’ll be No. 1 Alabama against No. 4 Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The fans were already fired up Friday, first by giving coach Gus Malzahn a standing ovation at a luncheon at midday, and then late in the afternoon, as you’ll see in this video.
We see players at the first of the video, and Malzahn finish it off. He’s always the last to leave the athletic building to board the buses. The buses will be back for Tiger Walk at 12:20 p.m. Gates open at 12:30. Nova is scheduled to fly at 2:19. Kickoff, officially is at 2:40.
Two helped Auburn beat Alabama in 2010: Quarterback Cam Newton and then-offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn (Todd Van Emst photo)
Offenses winning praise heading to the Iron Bowl
If you want to read only good things about offenses from opposing head coaches, you have come to the right place. There's no bulletin board material passing the lips of Auburn's Gus Malzahn and Alabama's Nick Saban this week leading up to Saturday's Iron Bowl in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Just like Monday, Malzahn and Saban said nice things about the other's offense.
Malzahn said Alabama running back (and one-time Auburn commit) T.J. Yeldon is a "big, strong athletic guy. He's probably not only one of the better running backs in in our league, but one of the better running backs in the country."
Saban said Malzahn's offense is difficult to prepare for because "they do a lot of multiples of things with a lot of different personnel groupings, a lot of formations, a lot of motions, a lot of adjustments, which I think is very challenging to the players. And they do all this fast and they execute it extremely well, and they have good players. A combination of all these things make it a very difficult preparation.
"The only thing that's changed over the years is how he features the players that he has, which I think is good coaching. He may tweak what he does a little bit relative to the people that he has, which I think every offense should do. But other than that, I think fundamentally the plays that they run, the things that they do, they don't change dramatically."
Auburn's Nick Marshall keeps it as Tre Mason trails the play (Kyle Taylor photo)
Alabama's Nick Saban says he sees a lot to like in Auburn's turnaround season
The Iron Bowl has turned into a mutual admiration society, at least in the early going, and at least publicly, leading up to Saturday’s game in Jordan-Hare Stadium. There is a lot to like, of course, considering No. 4 Auburn is 10-1 and No. 1 Alabama is 11-0.
Auburn Gus Malzahn complimented Alabama on Sunday night in this story, and the players followed suit in this story.
Monday, it was Alabama coach Nick Saban’s turn, and he dove right in talking about Auburn in general and Nick Marshall, Jay Prosch and Tre Mason in particular during his weekly press conference.
"They've played extremely well all year long," Saban said. "Their offense is one of the leading offensive teams in the country. Gus has always done a fantastic job with the offense, with their ability to run the ball effectively, throw it when they need to, score the points they’ve been able to score on a pretty consistent basis against just about everybody in this league. They’ve got a good offensive line, they’ve got inside runners.
"Nick Marshall does a very good job of implementing their offense. He’s very athletic and makes a lot of plays as a rusher. Tre Mason is the leading rusher in the league. Nick Marshall has almost a 1,000 yards rushing himself, so they create a lot of issues, a lot of problems. They have good receivers who can make plays down the field when you try to load up on them.
"They’re hard to score on, and that’s the most important thing about playing good defense. They’ve got a really good pass-rushing team. They’ve been able to create some negative plays in the passing game because of their pass rush. Very, very good in the kicking game.
"All the way around, this is a very, very good team. I think their record sort of reflects that."
Saban said Marshall is "playing his best football of the season of late in terms of his confidence and executing the offense. Probably the No. 1 challenge he presents his just physical ability of being a phenomenal athlete who is a great runner, but is also a guy who has a good touch and can make plays in the passing game.
"He’s made a lot of big plays.
"I think the guy is one of the most talented guys in our league at his position, even though his style may be a little bit different, relative to what he does for them and their offense, he is as effective as anybody we’ve played."
Saban said he likes Prosch because "their fullback is a fullback. He does a really, really good job at blocking. Their fullback is in the backfield and he has a blocking assignment on just about every play.
"You talk about a tough physical guy… he doesn’t get the ball much, but he sure does a good job of finishing, playing with toughness, blocking the right guy, blocking him the right way. Can’t say enough about what that guy does for them."
Saban said Mason is a "good, physical" running back who "can make you miss, is hard to tackle, very, very good inside runner but also has the ability to bounce outside and make plays on the perimeter, which he has done on many occasions this year."
Tre Mason has helped Auburn rush to the top of the SEC rushing charts (Todd Van Emst photo)
Inside the SEC stats: Strength versus strength in the Iron Bowl
It’ll be a lot of strength versus strength when Auburn plays host to Alabama in the Iron Bowl on Saturday. The SEC stats say so.
You’ve got the league’s No. 1 rush offense in Auburn against the No. 1 rush defense in Alabama. You’ve got the league’s No. 2 leader in total offense in Auburn against the No. 1 leader in total defense in Alabama.
You’ve got the SEC’s leader in red zone offense in Auburn against the SEC leader in red zone defense in Alabama.
Here’s a quick trip down the SEC team stat sheet…
2. Alabama (39.7 points per game)
4. Auburn (39 points per game)
1. Alabama (9.3 points per game)
5. Auburn (22 points per game)
2. Auburn (499.9 yards per game)
8 Alabama (444.7 yards per game)
1. Alabama (263.9 yards per game)
10. Auburn (406.9 yards per game)
1. Auburn (320.3 yards per game)
3. Alabama (211.5 yards per game)
1. Alabama (91.3 yards per game)
8. Auburn (152.1 yards per game)
8. Alabama (233.3 yards per game)
11. Auburn (179.6 yards per game)
2. Alabama (172.6 yards per game)
13. Auburn (254.8 yards per game)
Red zone offense
1. Auburn (87.5 percentage success rate)
5. Alabama (86.4 percentage success rate)
Red zone defense
1. Alabama (60 percent)
2. Auburn (73.7 percent)
Cam Newton looks to throw against Alabama in 2010, a year in which three of his passes went for TDs against the Tide (Todd Van Emst photo)
Pat, Bo and Cam sit atop leaderboard in Auburn's Iron Bowl performances
It’s fitting that Auburn’s three Heisman Trophy winners have done some of their best work in the Iron Bowl. Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson and Cam Newton have three of the school’s best individual performances against Alabama.
Sullivan threw for 317 yards in 1970, Jackson rushed for 256 yards in 1983 and Newton threw for three touchdowns in 2010. They sit atop the leaderboard. Auburn will be looking for more good performances when it meets Alabama at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 30 in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
All this good info is from the Auburn football communications department, so it is that Auburn’s football game notes tell us this:
Iron Bowl superlatives
256 Bo Jackson, 1983
204 Carnell Williams, 2003
37 Rudi Johnson, 2000
32 Joe Cribbs, 1978
317 Pat Sullivan, 1970
274 Reggie Slack, 1989
3 Cam Newton, 2010
2 Ben Leard, 1999
2 Patrick Nix, 1995
2 Jason Campbell, 2002
2 Brandon Cox, 2005
2 Chris Todd, 2009
42 Patrick Nix, 1994
39 Ben Leard, 1999
26 Ben Leard, 1999
23 Patrick Nix, 1994
9 Terry Beasley, 1970
8 Terry Beasley, 1971
8 Karsten Bailey, 1998
141 Alexander Wright, 1989
138 Darvin Adams, 2009
Auburn's Tre Mason finds a hole against Georgia (Todd Van Emst photo)
Auburn on its way to SEC rushing title
Auburn continues to run away from the competition as it heads to the Southeastern Conference team rushing title.
The Tigers improved to 10-1 Saturday when they rushed for 323 yards in a 43-38 win over Georgia to increase their per-game rushing averge to 320.3 yards, almost 100 yards more per game than second-place Missouri.
Auburn is No. 3 in the nation in rushing, 14th in total offense and 15th in scoring.
Auburn is averaging 320.3 yards rushing per game and has 3,523 yards, and counting. That's the most rushing yards through 11 games in school history. The Tigers are second in the league in total offense.
Auburn tailback Tre Mason is leading the charge. He rushed for 115 yards against Georgia and is first in the league in scoring and TDsl; and second in all-purpose yards and third in rushing. The rushing stats are based on per-game average. Mason has the most rushing yards in the league at 1,153 yards.
Here’s where Auburn ranks in some other categories:
•Auburn is second in the SEC in first downs, red zone offense and red zone defense.
•The Tigers are third in scoring, sacks and allowing the fewest sacks.
•Auburn is second in the SEC in punt average and third in kickoff returns.
•Chris Davis is first in the SEC in punt returns.
•Robenson Therezie is first in interception returns and sixth in interceptions with four.
•Defensive end Dee Ford is second in sacks, with eight; and tackles for a loss, with 12.
•In the NCAA, Auburn is 13th in red zone defense, 16th in first downs and 32nd in red zone offense.
Here's your SEC stat sheet.
Fans cheered their Auburn Tigers as they left the athletic complex Friday. Again, don't worry. They'll be back for Saturday's 2:30 p.m. game against Georgia in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Watch the video.
Keep an eye out for the likes of Nick Marshall and Tre Mason, as well as a lot of other players. Also check out some of the assistant coaches. And follow Gus Malzahn out of the building to the delight of the fans.
Auburn always spends the night out of town, but the team will be back for Tiger Walk at 12:20 p.m. Saturday, and then Gus Malzahn football.
Tre Mason has been on the go for Auburn again this year (Todd Van Emst photo)
Tre Mason is SEC's No. 1 impact rusher
Auburn's Tre Mason is the top impact rusher in the Southeastern Conference, according to this week's league stats.
Mason has rushed for a first down a league-best 50 times. He's rushed for a touchdown a league-best 16 times. The league defines impact plays as plays that result in a first down or touchdown.
Mason has rushed for 1,038 yards heading into Saturday's game against Georgia.
Nick Marshall is the No. 10 impact rusher in the league with 38 first downs and seven touchdowns.
Mason is also No. 1 in the league on third-down plays, achieving a first down 15 times and a touchdown four times. Marshall is 10th there, too.
C.J. Uzomah tops the league in impact reception percentage. All six of his catches have resulted in first downs, two of those for touchdowns.
Trent Fisher: Walk-on to scholarship to award nominee (Todd Van Emst photo)
Trent Fisher up for the Burlsworth Trophy
Auburn safety Trent Fisher is a nominee for the Burlsworth Trophy, which goes to a top player who began his college career as a walk-on.
Fisher has nine tackles this year, and had one of two interceptions for the Tigers last year.
Fisher was awarded a scholarship in 2012.
Our tweet collection (
) through midday Tuesday…
•Your hidden stat of the day: How many punts have been returned against Auburn this season? Four, for 16 yards.
•Auburn has scored more than 30 points in six straight games, the longest streak since 2004.
•Corey Grant on former Georgia DB/current Auburn QB Nick Marshall: "Nick is an athletic guy. He could probably play anywhere on the field."
•Auburn's Gus Malzahn on his run-heavy offense: "Going to have to be able to throw it at times. We know that. I think we'll be able to do it."
•Auburn's Gus Malzahn on talking to his team about the SEC race: "We haven't said anything. We haven't gone there."
•Auburn's Gus Malzahn on QB Nick Marshall's return to SEC. "Very proud of Nick on the field and off the field. He's a good person."
•Auburn's Gus Malzahn says turnaround season is "all about our players coming together and putting the past behind them."
•Auburn's Gus Malzahn says Nick Marshall will be OK playing Georgia: "If he holds true to past experiences, he doesn't get too high, too low"
•Auburn's Gus Malzahn calls Georgia's Aaron Murray: "One of the better quarterbacks to ever play in the SEC. Huge challenge for our guys."
Auburn's Nick Marshall gearing up to play Georgia, not play for them this week (Todd Van Emst photo)
Georgia coach Mark Richt paises former Bulldog Nick Marshall
Georgia coach Mark Richt had nothing but good things to say about former Bulldog defensive back and current Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall on Monday.
"If a guy has a situation where he doesn't finish here with Georgia, my goal for him is to find a new home. I'm happy for Nick," Richt said of the player who left his program after the 2011 season only to emerge as a threat to the Bulldogs this Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The former DB is now one of the most effective quarterbacks in the SEC.
"Very talented guy. Very dangerous runner. He's got a strong arm. Definitely a dual-threat issue," Richt said.
Marshall has sparked Auburn's offense all season, and was named Monday the SEC's offensive player of the week for the second time this season after rushing for 214 yards in Auburn's 55-23 win over Tennessee last Saturday. Richt said Marshall could have been a star if he had stayed at defensive back, too.
"I think he'd be an all-conference type guy," Richt said. "He would be a guy would have a very bright future at that position. He's very talented. He's a dynamic guy. He's got multi-skills. He's using a lot of them as a quarterback right now."
Richt said he and Marshall used to text each other after he left Georgia, but "I don't think I've had any communication since he's been at Auburn."
Now, "I think Nick was excited for his opportunity at Auburn, and I'm happy for him."
It's Tweet Collection Sunday (
), so here are some early ones on where Auburn stands on the stat sheet after beating Tennessee 55-23 Saturday to improve to 9-1 on the season:
•With 444 more of 'em Saturday, Auburn is third in the nation in rushing, averaging 320 yards per game (and second in total rushing yards at 3,200).
•Auburn's Tre Mason is fourth in the SEC in rushing (based on average per game), but is second in total rushing yards at 1,038. Mason is also first in scoring in the league, and first in touchdowns with 17.
•Auburn is first in the SEC in rushing and kickoff returns. The Tigers are second in total offense, red zone offense, red zone defense, punt returns. Auburn is third in the fewest sacks allowed.
•Chris Davis leads the SEC and the nation in punt returns. The 85-yard return for a touchdown against Tennessee helped his cause, as did the 42-yarder, for that matter. Davis is averaging 24.1 yards per return.
•Sammie Coates caught two passes for 10 yards at Tennessee, cutting into yards-per-catch standing. He led the nation in that category the past few weeks, but fell to second over the weekend. He's still averaging a stout 24.9 yards per catch, a tick behind Baylor's Tevin Reese, who is averaging 25 yards per catch.
Nick Marshall has been on the go for Auburn (Anthony Hall photo)
Auburn says Nick Marshall practicing well; Tennessee says he's a 'game-changer'
Gus Malzahn's practice/medical update on quarterback Nick Marshall was positive Wednesday.
He's "done a whole lot more than last week…he's practiced well," Malzahn said during Wednesday's SEC teleconference.
Marshall was extremely limited at practice last week because of a sore shoulder, but started last Saturday against Arkansas, completed 7-of-8 passes and directed Auburn to a 35-17 win.
Much of the discussion for Malzahn, and some for Tennessee coach Butch Jones, was about Marshall, who has helped Auburn to an 8-1 start.
"Nick Marshall is a game-changer. Not only can he run the football, he can throw the football," Jones said.
And: "Nick Marshall brings a whole other element to the run game. He's quick. He's elusive."
Some of other notes from Malzahn and Jones during the SEC teleconference…
•Jones' Volunteers are 4-5 and are coming off a 31-3 loss at Missouri.
"We have to become a much more physical football team," he said. "I don't know if that just occurs in just one week. But that's the mentality we're going to have to deal with. Right now, we're basically dealing with the realities of building a program."
Jones said Tennessee has been physical, but "I think it's just more of a mindset."
•Of Auburn, he said: "They're playing with a lot of confidence."
•Of Tennessee, he said: "We have absolutely zero depth, and I think that's been extremely evident."
•Two of Tennessee assistant coaches were at Auburn last year: Tommy Thigpen and Willie Martinez. Malzahn coached with Thigpen at Auburn from 2009-11.
"Tommy is a friend of mine. I have a lot of respect for Tommy as a coach," Malzahn said. "He's got a great mind. The fact we went against each other numerous times in practice, he knows our personnel very well."
•Popular former Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell was named the AFC Player of the Week Wednesday. The Cleveland Browns quarterbback completed 23-of-35 passes for 262 yards with three touchdowns in a' 24-18 win over Baltimore. Campbell played at Auburn from 2001-04.
Gus Malzahn defends his quarterbacks
Auburn's Gus Malzahn was quick to defend his players Tuesday, a day after criticism was leveled at last year's quarterbacks.
"Of course, I recruited all the quarterbacks here and they're nothing but champions," Malzahn said. "And I'm proud of the guys."
Malzahn recruited all the quarterbacks who have played at Auburn the last two years in Clint Moseley, Kiehl Frazier, Jonathan Wallace, Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson. Malzahn did that while serving as offensive coordinator at Auburn, head coach at Arkansas State or now head coach at Auburn.
Malzahn says he's never told a a player to fake an injury
TV commentators suggested during last Saturday's win over Arkansas that Auburn's Anthony Swain faked an injury to stop the clock. Malzahn said he's never told a player to do that.
"At the time, I did not see it happen, but after watching the TV copy I could see why people questioned it," Malzahn said. "I've coached for 23 years and I've never told any player to fake an injury. I promise you this, moving forward, there will be no questionable issues like that again."
Auburn walk-on tryouts? Auburn walk-on tryouts!
Want to try your hand at Auburn football? Walk-on registration for the 2014 team began Monday. Information packets are available at the front desk of the Auburn Athletics Complex during business hours. Completed packets must be returned by Jan. 3. Walk-on tryouts will be held Jan. 4. For more information, contact Al Pogue at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That video up there?
That's the second part of Tuesday's Gus Malzahn's weekly press conference. The video of the first part of the press conference is here.
Nick Marshall was on the go, when healthy, against Florida Atlantic (Anthony Hall photo)
Nick Marshall is Auburn's starting quarterback, Gus Malzahn made a point to say Wednesday, but whether that means he'll start against Arkansas on Saturday, well…
Malzahn's injured quarterback is "still day-to-day, no new news on that" he said after Wednesday's practice. That was pretty much what Malzahn said during Wednesday's SEC teleconference before the afternoon practice.
Malzahn said he is keeping an eye on Marshall to make sure he "can do what he does, and make sure he gives you the best chance of winning."
Marshall hurt his shoulder in last week's 45-10 win over Florida Atlantic, a game in which Jeremy Johnson came in an threw two long touchdown passes. He could be the starter Saturday, but "that's yet to be determined, but like I said before, we've got a lot of confidence in Jeremy," Malzahn said. "He came in last week and did a very solid job."
Malzahn called Wednesday's work a "solid practice," just like Tuesday.
"Our coordinators were pretty pleased with both days," he said.
Malzahn said last week's knee surgery for defensive back Josh Holsey went well. He's out for the year.
It's not writing. It's Twitter. But sometimes it's factual, so here's a collection of some of the latest ones Sunday morning following Auburn's 45-10 win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday:
Auburn in the SEC: 1st in rushing; 2nd in total offense, sacks made, fewest sacks allowed, Red Zone offense and defense; 3rd scoring defense
Auburn jumps to fifth in the nation in rushing offense, 13th in total offense after 45-10 win over Florida Atlantic
Auburn's Sammie Coates, with two more long touchdown catches Saturday, leads nation averaging 25.5 yards per catch. That's in this story.
Auburn's game at Arkansas on Saturday now has a kickoff time: 5 p.m. on ESPN2
Watch touchdown plays and more in these Saturday highlights, with Auburn network's Rod Bramblett with the call. The video is here.
Check out the stories, see the photos and join the conversation (109,064 likes) on Auburn's football Facebook page. Click here.
A tip of the fedora
We end this video, fittingly, with Dee Ford's tip of the fedora to the fans as Auburn leaves the athletic complex Friday for an overnight stay out of town. We start the video with a parade of players who are greeted by the fans who send the Tigers on their way.
You'll see a lot of familiar faces, including the starting quarterback and tailback. Hey, where's Gus Malzahn? He's out recruiting.
This overnight trip happens every Friday for a home game. The Tigers bus out of town before returning for Saturday football. This time it's for a 6:38 p.m. kickoff against Florida Atlantic. Oh, and bring your mittens to that one. There's a freeze warning for Auburn on Friday night. The temperature is expected to be around 52 at kickoff, dropping to 48 or so by game's end.
Auburn will hope to keep the momentum going after a 6-1 start has earned it a No. 11 spot in both the BCS standings and the AP poll. Oh, and that fedora? Well, maybe not. But it's still a salute to the fans.
Steven Clark is still one of the nation's top punters (Anthony Hall photo)
Steven Clark alive and punting for Ray Guy Award
Auburn's Steven Clark remains a familiar contender for the Ray Guy Award, which goes to the nation's top punter. Clark was a finalist for the award in 2011 and was a candidate for the award last year as well when he had to punt a yeoman 70 times. He was a summer entry on the 2013 list, a list that grew to Clark and 84 of his punting friends Friday.
Clark has been one of Auburn's most consistent players since he arrived. He's averaging 42.5 yards per punt this season, though the real measurement of his success may be in the hang time of his high punts. Only four of his punts have been returned this year.
The award will be presented Dec. 12.
More recognition could be on the way for the Tigers, especially for tailback Tre Mason and the various awards he could qualify for.
Checking the stat sheet
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee was talking up Florida Atlantic's defense on Tiger Talk on Thursday night, mentioning how the Owls' are in good shape in NCAA defensive statistics heading into Saturday's 6:30 p.m. game in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
That made us look.
Sure, enough, Florida Atlantic is better than Auburn in two of the three main defensive categories dealing with yards allowed, though the Owls haven't come close to playing as difficult a schedule as the Tigers. The Owls are ranked 31st in total defense (Auburn is 88th), eighth in passing defense (Auburn is 112th) and 86th in rushing defense (Auburn is 47th).
"Their head coach, Carl Pelini, and his brother (Nebraska's Bo) are very well respected in our business as defensive coaches," Lashlee said. "They do a great job defending the pass.
"They cover you up. There are not a lot of guys running wide open. We've got our work cut out for us.
"They're coming off a bye week. They've had two weeks to get ready for us, and they're going to have a good plan."
One reason Auburn's pass defense is under stress is the Tigers have faced lots of throws. Only 17 teams in the country have faced more passes.
The clock is running…
…but slow down. Kickoff is officially at 6:38.
The 1983 team will be honored on the field at 5:45.
Tiger Walk begins at 4:25.
Rhett Lashlee is on point with Auburn's offense (Todd Van Emst photo)
Hurry up and talk up the offense
Auburn's runaway offense has made a lot of noise already (like more rushing yards and points than all of last year) and head coach Gus Malzahn was spreading the compliments around when discussing it uring the SEC teleconference Wednesday.
He praised offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee ("He'll be a coach at this level," he said) and talked about Tre Mason ("a very tough running back.)
Lashlee has been with Malzahn forever, and his work with the quarterbacks and his other offensive duties "have allowed me to take care of the head coaching duties here," Malzahn said.
A few of the compliments:
•"He understands defenses. He's a tireless worker. Kids respond to him."
•"He deals with pressure very well."
•"He does a lot of the game plan. He helps call plays. We kind of do it together."
•"He deserves a whole lot of the credit for us offensively."
Malzahn said Mason "enjoys getting tough yards. He has done a very good job getting yards after contact."
Mason is well on his way to his second 1,000-yard season. He gained 178 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:19 remaining in last Saturday's 45-41 win over Texas A&M, and has 693 yards and eight touchdowns heading into Saturday's 6:30 p.m. game against Florida Atlantic.
He's helped Auburn to the top of the SEC rushing charts.
Gus Malzahn is talking a good game with a 6-1 start to the season (Todd Van Emst)
'They're playing good, hard-nosed Auburn football'
Auburn has won four games by eight points or less this surprising football season, doing it, in part, by staging last-minute wins against Mississippi State and Texas A&M.
That's how you surprise people on the way to a 6-1 record.
"Our team has really responded in the fourth quarter of close games," coach Gus Malzahn said on ESPNU on Monday.
Auburn was at its comeback best in Saturday's 45-41 win over Texas A&M, scoring the game-winner on a 5-yard Tre Mason run with 1:19 left.
Been there. Done that.
"Our offense drove the field, almost 90 yards against Mississippi State with a little bit more than a minute left to win the game. They really believe they can win the close ones," Malzahn said.
Then there was Texas A&M.
"We talked all week, 'Hey, we just need to be the game at halftime.' In the second half we feel like our conditioning will take over, and if it's a close game, we'll win."
Auburn led 10-7, 17-14, 38-34 and by the final 45-41 score. Still, Auburn had to play catch-up for approximately 50 minutes as the game played out.
The Tigers now find themselves in a position to improve their bowl standing, starting with Saturday's 6:30 p.m. against Florida Atlantic in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Malzahn said he didn't know what Auburn would do when it all started.
"I didn't really know what to expect other than our players bought in to what we asked them to do in the spring," he said. "We lost some guys. But that's OK. The guys we have now are all together. They're having fun playing the great game of football. They're playing good, hard-nosed Auburn football."
Things from this week's Auburn game notes and this laptop
•Auburn is one of our schools that have four players who have rushed for 100 yards this season. No other SEC school has more than two.
•Auburn's 379 rushing yards against Texas A&M were the most in school history against a nationally ranked team, and the seventh most against an SEC team. The 615 total yards were the third most in an SEC game.
•Auburn's total offense the last two weeks? 1,327 yards and 57 first downs.
•Auburn's Nick Marshall was named the SEC offensive player of the week after his four-touchdown performance against A&M. He's the fourth Auburn player to be honored by the league this year, joining Robenson Therezie, top defensive player; and Jeremy Johnson and Carl Lawson, top freshman players.
Auburn's Nick Marshall: Passing is OK, too. (Shanna Lockwood-USA Today Sports photo)
Good grade for quarterback Nick Marshall
Nick Marshall was on the practice field Tuesday after tweaking his knee in last Saturday's 30-22 win over Ole Miss. That was a good sign. Still, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said he wouldn't mind seeing backup quarterback Jonathan Wallace take some snaps in Saturday's 1 p.m. homecoming game against big underdog Western Carolina.
"Some other guys, too, would be good. That’s best-base scenario," Malzahn said Tuesday.
Wallace, who started the final four games last year, appeared in Auburn's first two games this season, but hasn't played in the last three. He's hit 1 of 2 passes.
Marshall hasn't given him much room, though this week's overmatched opponent could be an opening. Wednesday, Malzahn was remembering how well Marshall looked against Ole Miss after gaining a team-high 140 yards.
"He really ran the offense well. He made some very good runs. We did a lot of read-zones, and he made a lot of good decisions every time," Malzahn said during the SEC teleconference.
Auburn attempted only 17 passes. Malzahn was OK with that.
"We got up and we were running the football effectively, and tried to take some time off the clock, and, at the same time, we felt like it was working pretty well," he said.
Besides, Malzahn said Marshall's passing is improving.
"He's got a very quick release. He's getting better with his timing throws."
Auburn's other quarterback on scholarship is freshman Jeremy Johnson, and he hasn't played.
"I know it’s getting to a point now where you got to do what’s best for him and what’s best for your team, but he’s still getting a lot of reps in practice and he’s improving, there’s no doubt," Malzahn said.
Auburn leaves Auburn, but Tigers will be back
Auburn is playing at home Saturday, but tradition – and two Trailways buses – took them out of town Friday for an overnight stay. You know, to get away from it all.
The Tigers will be back Saturday for Tiger Walk and, of course, a 6 p.m. game aginst Ole Miss in Jordan-Hare Stadium. It's on ESPNU.
Before then, you can watch the Tigers and Gus Malzahn leave the athletic complex.
Sept. 20, 2013
Ellis Johnson and his defense check out Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge on Friday (Todd Van Emst photo)
Auburn made a rare appearance in an opponent's stadium Friday. Gus Malzahn opted for an early afternoon flight to Baton Rouge so the Tigers would have plenty of time to check out Tiger Stadium, where Auburn meets LSU at 6:45 p.m. Saturday.
It was a rare walk-through for Auburn in an opposing stadium since about 2005. But here were the Tigers on Friday, as evidenced in these Todd Van Emst photo.
There are more of photos of the trip:
Before the Tigers landed in Baton Rouge they got their usual trip away from its athletic complex, complete with a police escort. There's video of that below.
We typed on the Internet what a police siren sounds like. You know, so we could paint a word picture. This was one of the answers:
Well, this isn't what the siren sounded like when the police provided escort to the airport.
Coach Gus Malzahn says in the video that one of the keys to the game will be how Auburn handles the crowd in its first road game of the year.
The Auburn Radio Network and ESPN will provide clues early enough Saturday night.
This does not compute
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn chuckled when he was asked about his up-and-coming Tigers being ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation by one of the computers used by the BCS.
Too much, too soon?
"The computers can't come watch practice," Malzahn said during Wednesday's SEC teleconference of the shortcomings Auburn may have.
Two of the six computers used in the BCS formula have Auburn ranked in the Top 5, according to this story by al.com, though the Tigers aren't ranked in the human Associated Press or coaches' poll. Auburn's computer success is based on wins over Washington State, Arkansas State and Missisissippi State.
Auburn is one of only 17 teams with a nation-best 3-0 record. The Tigers will put that success on the line against 3-0 LSU in Baton Rouge at 6:45 Saturday night. Where does the SEC West fit in all of this? Four West teams are 3-0, another is 2-0.
It's a long way to go before unbeaten records — or BCS talk — really matters. The first BCS poll will be released Oct. 13.
Certainly, Malzahn isn't focused on that in September. He has work to do to turn around Auburn's fortunes after last year's struggles.
"We're not there yet," he said. " We're a work in progress. I am proud of our team. Each week we've gotten better. I think we'll have a chance to continue that."
Malzahn's offense is averaging 31 points a game. But in the crazy start to the SEC season, the Tigers are ranked only ninth in scoring, eighth in total offense.
One SEC team is averaging more than 600 yards a game. Two are averaging 500 yards, four more are averaging more than 450 yards per game. Auburn is at 440.
Malzahn, who is considered an offensive guru, defended the defenses.
"Early in the year they may have been caught off guard a few times, but this is the best defensive league in college football," he said. "The defenses will get better. More than likely, when you look back, it will be the best defensive league in the country again."
LSU coach Les Miles also talked a little Auburn football, without too many specifics, during the SEC teleconference. He said he's keeping an eye on Auburn running backs Corey Grant, Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne.
"We like our matchup, but they're a very formidable running back group," he said.
Sept. 17, 2013
Gus Malzahn makes the right calls against Mississippi State (Anthony Hall photo)
Gus Malzahn: Emotional coach...and other things
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn faced 34 questions at his weekly press conference Tuesday. We'll have more detailed stories on what Malzahn said at AuburnTigers.com:
But for now, here's a quick collection of tweets and non-tweets:
•On playing LSU on Saturday: "Playing a pretty typical LSU team... very good up front on both sides of the football. They have a lot of speed at all positions."
•On playing LSU, Part II: "It is a good gauge, just like last week...The first road test against a Top 10 team in the country to see where we're at."
•Malzahn on quarterback Nick Marshall leading Auburn to last Saturday's 24-20 win over Mississippi State: "That's got to help the way he ended the game last week. Looking back, we had a few drops and an overthrow. But at the same time, I felt like he did a good job throwing the football. I think he'll be more comfortable each week."
•Malzahn on celebrating last-minute TD: "I'm a very emotional coach. That's the way I coach. That's who I am."
•On Auburn outscoring opponents 20-0 in the fourth quarter: "I'd like to think it starts with conditioning. Our guys have worked extremely hard in the weight room, conditioning. The way we practice, I think, has a lot to do with that. It's a tribute to our guys making adjustments as the game goes on."
•Malzahn said Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd helped the Tigers beat Mississippi State: "I talked to somebody after the game, 'It felt like the old days around here.' It was just really electric."
•Despite huge offensive numbers in the SEC this year, Malzahn says conferences defenses are still tough.
"In the West, specifically, there may be a week that a team gives up a lot of yards. But year in and year out, it's going to be the best defensive league in college football, and I still believe at the end of the day it will be.
•Malzahn says injured Chris Davis and Jeff Whitaker are day-to-day.
•Tight end C.J. Uzomah on the fact Auburn hasn't won at LSU since 1999: "We haven't talked about the past. We've talked about this week and the future."
•Uzomah on this game-winning catch: "I think it speaks volumes to our growth as a team."
•Linebacker Jake Holland said rotating defensive players throughout the game has helped: "Late in the game, you definitely notice the difference from the last couple of years. We're a lot fresher."
Friday, Sept. 13
Bo Jackson makes a cameo in video of Auburn leaving athletic complex
Auburn had a guest in the athletic complex Friday. Bo Jackson dropped in, and tried to sneak out in front of the fans who had gathered to wish the Tigers safe travels to their overnight Friday destination before returning for Saturday's game against Mississippi State.
We have 10 quality seconds of Jackson leaving the building. We have more quality seconds of the players leaving. Coaches, too. Gus Malzahn, as is his custom, was the last to leave the building.
The Auburn-Mississippi State kickoff is 6 p.m. on ESPN, live from Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Your Saturday game program>>
Wednesday, Sept. 11
More playbook for Auburn's Nick Marshall? (Anthony Hall photo)
How much has new Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall run of Gus Malzahn's offense? Probably not a lot, but that will change, and that may start with Saturday's game against Mississippi State.
"We'll try to add each week to what Nick feels comfortable with," Malzahn said during Wednesday's SEC teleconference. "We're trying to build this thing around his strengths. The fact he didn't go through spring ball, we want to be smart and put him in situations to be successful. Each week, you'll see us add more and more to it."
Auburn has instead relied on its running game. The Tigers have run it 96 times, passed it 39 times in the first two games. Defenses will likely pay more attention to the run, based on those stats, but Malzahn said the Tigers can be flexible.
"If they allow us to throw the football a little bit more, I think we'll be able to do that.
"Right now, our offensive line is getting better, and we have a solid group of running backs," he said.
Malzahn said he likes the big picture for the Tigers.
"We're still building this thing at Auburn. We're a work in progress. But I really like the direction we're going," he said.
Auburn will be opening SEC play against Mississippi State for the 10th straight season.
"I think it can give great momentum with a victory," Malzahn said.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen got off to a good start last season when he beat Auburn early.
"To me, it was one of my top wins as a head coach," Mullen said. "There's a little bit of a rivalry aspect to the game because I think the first game is so critical when you start your year off in conference play."
Mullen got the win with Melvin Smith coaching State's cornerbacks. This year, he's coaching Auburn's cornerbacks. Just in case, Mullen said he's changing signals.
"We try to change things up every year just because of those situations," he said. "I know teams aren't supposed to videotape guys signaling. I don't know if everybody follows that rule, so we're pretty cautious about that stuff, so year to year we try to change a lot of those signal-things up."
Monday, Sept. 9
Kiehl Frazier was the starting quarterback at Mississippi State in 2012. Today, he's a safety (Todd Van Emst photo)
An outsider's look at Auburn
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen says his preparation for Auburn has always included a bit of uncertainty, and that's because the games have been early-season matchups before identities were established.
True enough, Auburn will open its SEC schedule against the Bulldogs for the 10th straight season when they play at 6 p.m. Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium. And, true enough, the Tigers will be playing the Bulldogs with a new coaching staff after changing coordinators or quarterbacks in Mullen's four previous meetings.
"Every year it's been something new with them," he said.
Mullen discussed that, and gave an outsider's view of Auburn, in his weekly press conference Monday. He said Auburn's previous two games this season really aren't much to go on, and wishes he knew more about the plans of head coach Gus Malzahn, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson.
"It certainly does make it difficult," Mullen said. "There's a whole new offensive staff. You can look at Arkansas State from last year and Auburn from three or four years ago on offense (with Malzahn). You can look at Southern Miss and South Carolina from three or four years ago (with Ellis). But that's not this year's team for them. That's what makes it hard because you want to look at this year's team. What are they doing with their players? They're very good coaches over there and they're making sure within their system putting their players in a position to make plays. You just don't have a lot of looks at what they are and what they want to be and what their personality is."
He may not have a lot of looks, but he said he likes running backs Tre Mason, Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne, and said quarterback Nick Marshall is dangerous.
"They've got three big-time running backs that can all make big plays in the open field," Mullen said. "They have dynamic wide receivers who can beat you before and after the catch for big plays. They have a quarterback who has hit a lot of big throws down the field and will keep you honest. He can improvise on his own, and if you don't account for him, he's going to hurt you."
Those previous early-season Auburn-Mississippi State meetings? The Tigers won seven of the previous nine.
Friday, Sept. 6
Load 'em up, move 'em out
Auburn boarded its buses and headed out of town to the cheers of the crowd late Friday afternoon. We have video to prove it.
The Tigers will be back in Auburn at 4:10 p.m. Saturday for a slightly-early Tiger Walk. The crowd will cheer the team into Jordan-Hare Stadium for the 6:30 p.m. game against Arkansas State. Maybe you heard...? Gus Malzahn coached there last season.
Before then, you can watch the Tigers leave the athletic complex through the magic of the Internet:
Gus Malzahn and Rob Bramblett talk Auburn football during Tiger Talk at Victory Grille (Todd Van Emst photo)
Where everybody knows your name...
He grew up in Arkansas, made his name in Arkansas, was the head coach at Arkansas State last season and will coach against those very same Red Wolves on Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
You can tell Gus Malzahn doesn't like this week's story being about him.
Alas, part of it is, considering Malzahn and 12 other Auburn football staffers were at Arkansas State last season. Think this game may mean something?
But Malzahn said on Thursday night's Tiger Talk the game goes both ways. Arkansas State has 15 players from Alabama.
"They have some big-time players from our state," Malzahn said. "Some of their better players are from the State of Alabama. Definitely, they'll be excited to come back and will be looking forward to playing us."
One coach who didn't follow Malzahn from Arkansas State to Auburn is defensive coordinator John Thompson, who is in his second year with the Red Wolves in a career that has included stops at Ole Miss, Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina and LSU.
"John is good," Malzahn said. "He did a good job with our defense last year. He's an attacking-style guy, which I like. It will definitely be a challenge to see where they're coming from and what their plan is."
Advantage, Thompson? Advantage, Malzahn?
"There are a lot of familiar faces on both sides. I think we know each other fairly well," Malzahn said.
We wrote about some of the hot topics from Tiger Talk on Thursday night, such as his prediction that more freshmen may follow in Montravius Adams' footsteps and make an impact this season, as well as notes on Nick Marshall, Jay Prosch, Kiehl Frazier and more. That story is here.
Another item from Tiger Talk...
Malzahn said freshman wide receiver Tony Stevens, who the participation chart says played in the opener, has had a good week of practice. He's been recovering from a hamstring injury.
"He'll definitely play some this week, and I think he'll a have a chance contribute as the year goes on," he said.
Wednesday, Sept. 4
Gus Malzahn has a good time at Tiger Walk last Saturday (Todd Van Emst photo)
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn was taken back to his days at Arkansas State during the SEC teleconference Wednesday, and he sang a familiar song.
Yes, he respects Arkansas State. And, yes, he likes the players.
Talk about a coincidence! He plays Arkansas State in Jordan-Hare Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Malzahn coached at Arkansas State last season in his only year in Jonesboro. We wrote about his relationship -- along with the 12 other Auburn staffers who were at Arkansas State last season -- in this story posted Tuesday.
Wednesday, Malzahn talked more about the Red Wolves. Also, he said the rest of the offense needs to help his own quarterback, Nick Marshall. Also, he thanked former Tulsa head coach Todd Graham for allowing him to run his offense at the college level for the first time, notable because Malzahn was at Arkansas before that.
First, a look at Arkansas State...
Malzahn said he's never been in a situation where he's so familiar with the personnel of the other team, at least since becoming a college coach.
"Those kids are very good players, they are use to winning and they can be a very good team this year," he said.
But, he added, "it's going to be a different offensive system. You know about personnel, but the scheme is going to be different and you don't know what to expect. They have a lot of good football players, and that's the thing I know most about it."
Malzahn and Arkansas State coach Bryan Harsin have shared ideas, from when Malzahn was at Tulsa and Harsin was at Boise State.
"He's one of the best in the business, one of the best offensive minds in all of college football," Malzahn said. "I have respect for Bryan not only as a coach, but a person.
"I think he's a very good fit for Arkansas State. He's going to win a lot of games."
On Nick Marshall's play in the opener and going forward...
"We've got to help him out, too. A lot of the stuff around him wasn't right. A lot of times it makes a quarterback look bad."
Malzahn talked more Marshall after Wednesday's practce.
On his offense at Tulsa...
"Todd Graham gave me the chance to run the offense by myself. We had some very good players. Found the system can work at this level.
"Todd Graham is an old high football coach. We think a lot alike. He's the one who gave me an opportunity, I'll be forever thankful for that."
Sunday, Sept. 1
Let's go to the highlights...
Three interceptions? How about a 100-yard kickoff return? How about a 75-yard TD run from scrimmage? Like to see a tricky 2-point conversion play? You want video highlights of Auburn's 31-24 win over Washington State on Saturday night? They're right here, with the calls from the Auburn radio network. Check it out...
Don't forget. There are all sorts of stories on the victory at AuburnTigers.com.
Friday, Aug. 30
Tigers leave athletic complex to the cheers of the crowd
Auburn opens the season against Washington State on Saturday, and that means the Tigers headed out of town Friday to get away from it all. They'll be back for Tiger Walk at 4 p.m. Saturday in advance of the 6 p.m. game in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
You can watch the team, players and coaches alike, in this video as they leave the athletic complex and board its buses to the cheers of the crowd.
Thursday, Aug. 29
Jay Jacobs says can't treat all Division I schools same; talks of game-day enhancements, 2015 and more
It's time for the NCAA to look at big-time schools a bit differently, said Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs on Thursday.
"We can't treat all Division I schools as if they're all the same," Jacobs said. "We need to take a thorough look at what we have and cast a vision where we need to go."
SEC commissioner Mike Slive has also said big schools have different needs than other schools.
Jacobs gave a glimpse of his program as the Tigers open a new athletic year, including the football season-opener against Washington State on Saturday.
Here's a quick look at some of the things he said:
•Jacobs said one way to help this year's game-day experience was not raising the ticket prices. He said ticket sales for premium seats were at an all-time high. Some seats are still available.
•He said Jordan-Hare Stadium's master plan calls for premium seating/boxes in an end zone, though there's no immediate plan to do that.
•Selected gates at the stadium will open 30 minutes early, at 3:30 p.m. for those needing special assistance. The gates will open at 4 for everybody else. Auburn is encouraging fans to arrive a bit earlier than usual as the school unveils its ticket scanning program.
•He said WiFi has been enhanced and the price has dropped.
•He said Auburn still hasn't finished its 2015 schedule. It's non-conference games so far include Louisville in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, San Jose State and Jacksonville State.
•Jacobs said Auburn has spent $40 million upgrading Jordan-Hare Stadium since 2004.
•There will be a lot more from Jacobs on AuburnTigers.com.
Wednesday, Aug. 28
Gus Malzahn is back, but 'everything is different' as the head coach
Gus Malzahn knows Auburn from his three years as the offensive coordinator, but he says things are different now heading into Saturday's season-opener against Washington State.
That comes with the responsibility of being the new head coach.
"There is some comfort, but everything is different. It's completely different than when I was here before," Malzahn said during Wednesday's SEC teleconference. "I gave everybody a chance to start over and show what they can do. They went through a storm last year, and I'll be curious to see how some of those guys respond, even those guys I've seen before in person."
Malzahn said he's knows a lot of the players, but "it's the fact it's a new team, we've got a lot of new players and even a lot of our experienced players are in new positions."
Malzahn missed last year's 3-9 season.
"They went through a storm," he said. "There are a lot things we had to deal with regarding those things, but the fact that a lot of these guys already knew me and knew what to expect, that will help. But they're seeing me as a head coach for the first time, so they'll be a learning curve on both ends."
As far as the game goes, "I know our crowd will be ready to go, and our players will, too. I feel good about where our players are at right now. They've worked extremely hard. They've bought into what we asked them to do."
"I really think we'll learn about our team in the first game."
Tuesday, Aug. 27
Gus Malzahn on attitude (it's good), running backs (they're good), Nick Marshall (also good)
The clock is ticking toward Saturday's opener against Washington State, and Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is ready.
And a little curious.
"Our effort, our attitude. How we handle adversity, how we handle success -- that's what I'm most curious about," Malzahn said at his first weekly press conference of the season.
Still, he said, "I feel very good where we are at right now."
Some other quick notes from the chat:
•"I'm very proud of the guys buying in...they've really improved."
•Malzahn said new starting quarterback Nick Marshall is "very accurate."
"The biggest thing is he didn't get to go through spring. As coaches, we're going to try to put him in positions to be successful."
•On offensive lineman Shon Coleman, who overcame cancer and finds himself on the depth chart.
"This will be a special moment for him. He's a fan favorite, and he should be," Malzahn said.
•How many true Auburn freshmen will play? "There will be quite a few."
•What's happening on the defensive line?
"Coach Garner is going to rotate a lot of guys. You have to have depth in the first game of the year. We feel like everybody will be on the field will be prepared," Malzahn said.
•Malzahn said wide receiver Tony Stevens, who had been slowed by injury, may play.
•Malzahn will be looking for someone to grab the receiving opportunities.
"We need to find a go-to receiver. In 2009 when we first got here, we were saying the same thing."
Malzahn found Darvin Adams that year.
"I'm real curious to see how our guys respond," Malzahn said.
•Malzahn said Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne "are on pretty much on equal ground right now. Corey Grant is a guy who you can see in the mix, too."
•Rhett Lashlee is the offensive coordinator, but Malzahn said, "I'll be the one who calls the plays."
•Auburn receiver coach Dameyune Craig will be in the booth offensively; D-coordinator Ellis Johnson will be upstairs for the defense Saturday.
Monday, Aug. 26
Inside Auburn game notes...
The Auburn game notes for Saturday's season-opener will be posted on the Internet in the next day.
Here are some of the interesting tidbits that will appear:
•Since World War II, Auburn is 8-1 in a head coach's first game. Gus Malzahn will try to make it 9-1.
•Since 1969, no Auburn coach and starting quarterback have made their debut in the same game. That'll change with Malzahn and Nick Marshall on Saturday against Washington State.
•Best season-opening performances:
Bo Jackson rushed for 290 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette in 1985.
Patrick Nix passed for 372 yards against Ole Miss in 1995.
Alexander Wright had 263 receiving yards against Pacific in 1989.
Chris Todd had the longest pass play, a 93-yarder to Terrell Zachery in 2009
•Auburn has had a kickoff return for a touchdown each of the last five seasons. That's the fourth-longest current streak. Kansas State leads with a TD return each of the last eight years.
•Auburn and Nebraska are the only BCS teams to have three undefeated seasons since 1993.
•Anthony Swain has switched from No. 44 to No. 43.
•There are 97 new flat-screen TVs throughout the concourse of Jordan-Hare Stadium.
(By the way, Auburn is not practicng this Monday. The Tigers will return to the practice field Tuesday afternoon)
Sunday, Aug. 25
It's time to practice
It's officially game week at Auburn and the Tigers are ready to hit their regular-game week routine.
While most Sunday practices are lighter workouts following a Saturday game, today's practice figures to be more intense, since the Tigers are coming off an off-day as they wind their way to Saturday's 6 p.m. opener against Washington State in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson and selected players will meet the press after practice.
The Tigers will then fall into their regular routine: An off day Monday, full-blown practices Tuesday and Wednesday before a Thursday practice that will focus on the finer points of the playbook. Friday is usually a lighter day with last-minute preparations.
Gus Malzahn's formal weekly press conference will be Tuesday, but there will be plenty comments from him, his coaches and his players throughout the week on AuburnTigers.com.
Wednesday, Aug. 21
Arkansas will be the first team in Jordan-Hare Stadium in 2014 (Todd Van Emst photo)
Some quick thoughts about Auburn's 2014 football schedule...
•First, Auburn released its 2014 schedule Wednesday. The schedule is here on our AuburnTigers.com story.
•The SEC is sticking with its eight-game conference schedule -- the 6-1-1 format -- for another year. South Carolina will replace Tennessee as Auburn's rotating SEC East rival, and the Gamecocks may roll off in 2015 when, or if, or maybe, the SEC moves to the nine-game league schedule. The new SEC Network may insist on better games by then.
•There will be no warm-ups to conference play. Auburn will play host to Arkansas to kick off the season on Aug. 30, the first time it willl open a season against an SEC team since beating Ole Miss 46-13 in 1995. The Tigers will then move to a favorable September that has games against San Jose State, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, plus an open date.
•Auburn will play seven conference teams in its final eight games, including road games at Georgia and Alabama. Playing those two old rivals on the road in the same year isn't good, but, remember, Georgia agreed to play at Auburn in 2012 and 2013.
•Auburn is taking care of one of its own with a home game against Samford and Pat Sullivan, who won his Heisman Trophy at Auburn in 1971. The Tigers played host to Samford and Sullivan in 2011 when current Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee ran the Bulldogs' offense.
Samford falls between Georgia and Alabama on the schedule.
•Auburn owed Kansas State a home game. Kansas State played in Jordan-Hare in 2007.
•Auburn has an open date before playing South Carolina, which is good. Back-to-back games against Texas A&M and Georgia may be the toughest two-game stretch.
2014 AUBURN FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Date Opponent Site
Aug. 30 ARKANSAS AUBURN
Sept. 6 SAN JOSE STATE AUBURN
Sept. 13 •• Open Date ••
Sept. 20 at Kansas State Manhattan, Kan.
Sept. 27 LOUISIANA TECH AUBURN
Oct. 4 LSU AUBURN
Oct. 11 at Mississippi State Starkville
Oct. 18 •• Open Date ••
Oct. 25 SOUTH CAROLINA AUBURN
Nov. 1 at Ole Miss Oxford
Nov. 8 TEXAS A&M AUBURN
Nov. 15 at Georgia Athens
Nov. 22 SAMFORD AUBURN
Nov. 29 at Alabama Tuscaloosa
Tuesday, Aug. 20
Night report: Gus Malzahn likes Auburn's offense
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn came away from Tuesday's practice with praise for his offense.
"I told the offense that it was the best rhythm since I've been back...the timing was very good," he said.
Malzahn said he's seen Nick Marshall take control since he was named the starting quarterback.
It was the last practice of fall camp. The players are off Wednesday for the first day of fall class, then the Tigers will return to preparing for the Aug. 31 opener against Washington State.
"Looking back on the whole camp, I feel like we did improve," Malzahn said.
"We're pretty much all full force into Washington State. The good thing in is we've got some extra time to prepare."
The Tigers took advantage of nice weather to spend most of the practice outside. Rain has forced them inside during many practices.
Monday was a day to detail some of the injuries on defense. Malzahn talked in more general terms Tuesday.
"Any time you've had injuries it's an opportunity for the young guys," Malzahn said.
He said he hoped to have Justin Garrett, who plays the hybrid Star position, next back week from a football injury. Defensive end Dee Ford will miss the opener, and Malzahn said "it's hard to say right now" when he'd return.
Malzahn said moving freshman running back Johnathan Ford to cornerback was the best for everybody, considering Auburn's injury situation.
"He's a phenomenal running back, but we need help right now. We already made a decision for him to play special teams."
Afternoon report: On the injury front...
Auburn's Ellis Johnson looking for healthy players to fill out the depth chart (Todd Van Emst photo)
Losing leading pass rusher Dee Ford to a hurt knee and having four other defensive linemen slowed because of injuries have hurt Auburn's progress heading to the Aug. 31 opener against Washington State. This story says so.
The problem for defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson hasn't stopped in the line, however.
He's been without spring standout and Star safety Justin Garrett because of a foot injury, though he hopes to have him back. He will be without DB Jonathan Jones, who is out with a broken ankle. He saw DB Demetruce McNeal dismissed from the team last week.
The good news on the injury front? "It gave young players the opportunities to compete so they got better."
That includes 5-star freshman defensive line signees Elijah Daniel and Carl Lawson, as well as LaDarius Owens, who was moved back to the defensive line. But the secondary troubles Johnson, too.
"The DB thing has been a little bit more concerning. We were busting so many assignments back there when the older kids were banged up it was hard to tell whether we were making any progress," he said. "But then again the opportunity to have practice and reps and make those mistakes, that's how they learn. Every program in the country is in a similar situation. I'm sure everybody's got people out of the lineup."
Six on the Senior Bowl watch list
Six Auburn players are on the Senior Bowl's new watch list for the annual game in Mobile. The bowl said it'll be following the exploits of defensive ends Dee Ford and Nosa Eguae, defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker, H-back Jay Prosch, defensive back Chris Davis and punter Steven Clark.
There's a lot of ciphering to do before kickoff on Jan. 25. There are 400 names -- 72 from the Southeastern Conference -- presently on the watch list.
Monday, Aug. 19
Injuries taking toll: Dee Ford, Jonathan Jones out; Johnathon Ford moved to cornerback
Auburn's top pass rusher will miss the season-opener, a defensive back is out for sure and much of the rest of the Tigers' defense hasn't been feeling too sporty, either.
Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson detailed a long injury list after Monday's practice, including defensive end Dee Ford, one of the Tigers' top players. The injury situation had gotten so bad that the Tigers moved touted freshman running back Johnathan Ford to cornerback.
Johnson said practice has been difficult because of the "loss of so many players."
"It's real, and it's something that will affect our ability to play."
Two of the most prominent ones are Ford, who is counted on to rush the quarterback but is out with a knee injury; and defensive back Jonathan Jones, who has a broken ankle suffered when he slipped on a step away from the football complex. The Tigers are also without defensive back Demetruce McNeal, who was dismissed from the team over the weekend.
Still, Johnson said, "I've been the most pleased the last four practices."
"One day we practiced without three of the four best corners," Johnson said. "It hurts your progress in the preseason when you have players missing. But I've been pleased over the last few days.
"Two things you can't control as a coach in football: One is injuries and two is the weather."
"The injury bug," he added, "is just part of football. We've had some unfortunate situations."
The good news? "We're going to be fine with all of them except Jonathan and Dee."
The injuries have allowed Johnson to take a quick, long look at Kiehl Frazier, the one-time quarterback who was moved to safety last Monday.
"Kiehl is coming along. Mentally, he's one of the quickest guys we've got. He'll be OK in time.
Once he gets comfortable back there, I think he'll play quite a bit for us," Johnson said.
Also, "What all these injuries did, was give these young players a chance to compete."
More on the injuries coming up at AuburnTigers.com.
Cam Newton on the run, circa 2010, for Auburn (Todd Van Emst photo)
Nick Marshall was once a Georgia DB...and Mark Richt wanted Cam Newton to play tight end
He threw more touchdown passes than anybody in Georgia high school history. So what did his home-state Bulldogs do? They made Nick Marshall a defensive back.
Marshall was good enough to play cornerback in 13 games for the University of Georgia in 2011, left for junior college, and now he's back in the SEC as Auburn's starting quarterback. He was named the starter over the weekend, and more than practiced up for the move while at Garden City Community College in Kansas last season.
"I was rusty the first week, but then I got into my groove and then I knew then and there it was my position," Marshall said.
Guess so. He passed for 3,142 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 1,095 yards and 19 touchdowns last year. That was after passing for a state-record 103 touchdown passes in his prep career at Wilcox County.
Was Georgia right to make Marshall a defensive back? Who knows? But, remember, Georgia coach Mark Richt has said he recruited Cam Newton to play...tight end. True story. "A lot of it had to do with what we like to do offensively," Richt said after the 2010 season.
Marshall said Florida State, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Clemson recruited him to play quarterback out of high school. He mentioned Georgia, too.
His numbers say he's a dual-threat quarterback. His mind says there could be too much of a good thing in the SEC.
"In this league, you can't take too many hits at quarterback. I'll use it to my advantage to get out of bounds or just get down," he says.
One guy he'll be compared to -- because he's a junior college transfer -- is Newton, the Heisman Trophy winner who could run and pass, too. Newton led the SEC in rushing and was second in the nation in passing efficiency in Auburn's 2010 national championship season. Oh, yeah. He accounted for 51 touchdowns.
Unfair comparison? Yep. Auburn lists Marshall at 6-foot-1, 210. Newton played at 6-6, 250.
"I really can't compare myself to him. I'll just be myself," Marshall said.
Follow Charles Goldberg on Twitter:
Tuesday, Aug. 13
Jonathan Wallace still in the hunt, and other QB talk
Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee emphasized Tuesday that Jonathan Wallace is still in the quarterback race, though Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson are running with the first team this week.
The Tigers scrimmaged in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Tuesday in a workout that was designed to showcase younger players and reserves.
Here's a quick review of Lashlee's post-scrimmage press conference from a collection of tweets, and other random typing...
•On the scrimmage, Lashlee said, "We held some of the older guys out. It was no means a full scrimmage compared to the first two."
He said the scrimmage involved situational planning, such as picking up the blitz.
•On the quarterback race, "Really, we've got three guys we're looking at..." Head coach Gus Malzahn said Monday the focus this week would be on Marshall and Johnson, but Wallace wasn't out of it.
•On when he'd like to pick a starter: "We don't have a day, but the quicker you decide the quicker you can go on preparing for your opponent," Lashlee said.
•Lashlee said he was proud of the way Kiehl Frazier has handled the move from quarterback to safety.
"I don't know if I've been more proud of a player I've coached than Kiehl right now," Lashlee said.
Lashlee called Frazier "a phenomenal athlete."
•On Wallace, Lashlee said, "He's a winner. He's responded right now just like I thought he would. He's done what you want an older guy to do."
Also, "I know he's ready."
•He said freshman Marcus Davis has looked good as a slot receiver.
"You can tell playing quarterback in high school helped him," Lashlee said.
•He said another freshman, running back Johnathan Ford, "has done some good things."
Sunday, Aug. 11
Freshman Dominic Walker looks to get around Jordan Spriggs in Saturday's scrimmage (Todd Van Emst photo)
No rest for these Tigers
Auburn's Saturday scrimmage in Jordan-Hare Stadium was barely in the books before the players were back at the athletic complex meeting with their position coaches before heading out to another practice late in the afternoon.
The Tigers were scheduled to practice again at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, a quick follow-up to Saturday's events. There could be another scrimmage before midweek.
These may not be the times that try men's souls, since this isn't exactly the American Revolution, but coach Gus Malzahn is pushing his players to see who can stand up to the rigors of the SEC.
"We really tried to strain them," he's said on more than one occasion.
The quarterback race continues, which is of specific concern to Malzahn, an offensive guy at heart. But, Malzahn, the head coach, sees the bigger picture, too.
"I think we're improving," he said Saturday. "We talked about that and I said we've been in evaluation mode; we've been giving them all a chance. It's time that we start narrowing it down, getting our guys that we feel like will have a chance to help us in that first game, start giving them reps, be very specific and move forward."
Saturday's scrimmage was, for sure, designed to grade the four quarterbacks vying for the starting job, but it was also designed to set the depth chart, with backups receiving plenty of opportunities to show what they could do three weeks before the season-opener against Washington State.
Fan Day is at 3:30 p.m. this Sunday in Auburn Arena. Get your autograph pens ready. The details are here.
Saturday, Aug. 10
It was a sunny day in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday where Auburn conducted another scrimmage to help find a starting quarterback.
Want to know who's it going to be? Gus Malzahn says he doesn't know, so you can stop reading now.
Knew you couldn't!
The four-man quarterback race will continue into next week at the very least.
Here is a collection of quick tweets and other notes from Saturday in Jordan-Hare:
•Who was the first quarterback on the field? Malzahn didn't say, other than to say it didn't matter.
"That doesn't say anything about first, second, third or fourth teams."
•Kiehl Frazier, Nick Marshall, Jeremy Johnson, Jonathan Wallace and even walk-on Tucker Tuberville took snaps. No, Tuberville isn't in the race. He's a transfer who has to sit out.
•Has there been some separation among the quarterbacks? "I'd like to think so," says s Malzahn. Like how? He's not saying.
•Still, he said, "Our plan was to narrow it down somewhat. We're hoping we can.
You can keep repping four guys and properly evaluate them."
•Quite a few starters didn't play, especially on defense, because the coaches wanted to get a feel for their backups.
•Malzahn says he had "another good scrimmage. Around 85 plays."
•The special teams drill were live.
"We learned a lot trying to evaluate those guys. It was hot, and that's a good thing."
•"There were a lot of ups and downs in the scrimmage, which is always good to evaluate things."
•On the scrimmage: "I told our players and coaches that we have to narrow some things down."
•On live tackling: "Each scrimmage will be physical. I'm sure there were some bumps and bruises."
Thursday, Aug. 8
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said his Tigers' first session of Thursday's two-a-day practice wasn't too hot, a disappointing follow-up to Wednesday's scrimmage.
Here's a quick wrap-up of what Malzahn said from our tweets and non-tweets alike:
"I told the team I wasn't happy with the way we responded. I didn't feel like our approach was good," Malzahn said.
•"The focus today was on clean up and the red zone."
•"We've got to be more prepared mentally to practice."
•On the quarterbacks in Wednesday's live scrimmage: "Each one showed toughness. They hung in there and took some licks."
•On narrowing the quarterback race from four to something more manageable: "Hopefully, after that next scrimmage, we can start narrowing things down." The next scrimmage is Saturday.
•More on narrowing the QB race: "I don't know what that means other than we're rotating too many guys right now."
• Malzahn on the running backs in scrimmage: "I think our ball security was pretty good. We feel like we have some options. A lot of guys can do different things."
•Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes, who missed Wednesday's practice because of a medical procedure, wasn't at Thursday's first session but was expected at the afternoon session.
Wednesday, Aug. 7
Auburn ran 107 plays in its first scrimmage of the fall Wednesday in a snappy practice session in the inside practice facility. Perhaps the biggest news was that the non-contact jerseys were taken off all four quarterbacks. They were live.
The Tigers practiced inside after rain chased them out of Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Here is a collection of rapid tweets, and non-tweets, from coach Gus Malzahn's post-practice news conference:
•Malzahn on making QBs live in scrimmage: "Tackle football. Real football. Just like you'll see in the first game."
•More on making QBs live in scrimmage: "Got to narrow guys down, way to do it is with a live scrimmage."
"All four quarterbacks played fairly equal reps," Malzahn said.
"It was like a regular football game."
•"Overall, I saw some good things."
•"Every quarterback got a chance to run."
•"Hopefully we'll learn some information where we can at least start narrowing it down."
•Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes missed the scrimmage because of a "medical procedure."
"He'll be back tomorrow. Shouldn't be a problem at all," Malzahn said.
•Auburn will hold its first two-a-day practice Thursday.
"We'll clean up mistakes," Malzahn said.
Auburn's first scrimmage of the fall is in a rain delay in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Bulletin: The coaches are moving the scrimmage to the indoor facility because of that rain.
A few players ventured out before the storm hit, but wisely sought cover when the bottom fell out. After a short delay, the coaches decided to practice inside.
Tuesday, Aug. 6
Auburn had its shortest practice of the fall Tuesday because the next stop is a projected physical scrimmage in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Here's what coach Gus Malzahn said after Tuesday's practice, presented from our series of tweets. And non-tweets:
"A pretty solid practice. Energy was good. It was physical," Malzahn said. "Scrimmage tomorrow. It'll be a big scrimmage for us."
•Malzahn said it would be a "situational" scrimmage.
"We'll try to get on the field to make plays. We'll be basic offensively and defensively."
•There was no movement in the quarterback race.
"We're very open-minded. There are some ups and downs. One guy plays better each day than the other," Malzahn.
•Do the quarterbacks know how important the scrimmage is?
"They should. They've been told," Malzahn said.
"There's nothing better to evaluate a quarterback than in a scrimmage."
•Malzahn said his scrimmage plans go like this: "A little pace with the older guys. Young guys we'll slow it down a little bit to evaluate them."
•Quarterbacks strengths? "They're somewhat similar. Each of them has strengths. I think they are all four solid quarterbacks. That's the positive."
-- Charles Goldberg
Monday, Aug. 5
Collection of tweets from Ellis Johnson and Rhett Lashlee after practice
Auburn D-coordinator Ellis Johnson: "We didn't get into a lot during the spring, but what we did get into they retained it pretty well. The older guys, I thought was real good retention."
•Johnson said he added sub-packages for his defense today. "It was very rough around the edges. We have good film to teach off of."
•On linebackers: "The older guys came back prepared."
•"I think Kris Frost is having a good camp." Anthony Swain has moved from the outside to inside.
•Jake Holland is working inside and outside linebacker with first team. LaDarius Owens is doing it with the second team.
•Johnson on freshman defensive ends helping with a much-needed pass rush: "I think those two guys can bring that natural ability, but I don't know if they're ready."
•Johnson on move of Ken Carter to DE: "Kenny has had a good solid spring. I think that's where he belongs."
•Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee on QB race: "I think we've got some good information...we're nowhere near ready to make a decision at this point."
•Lashlee on QB race: "Next four or five days a lot of information can come our way." Like midweek scrimmage.
•Lashlee says receiver Quan Bray is leading by example. "I'm really proud of him."
•Lashlee on RB Tre Mason: "Tre is durable enough for 20 carries a game," but so are the other running backs.
•Lashlee says Corey Grant, Johnathan Ford and "maybe some of our wideouts" candidates to run the speed sweep, Onterio McCalebb's old role.
Sunday, Aug. 4
Things tweeted from Sunday's Gus Malzan press conference...
•Gus Malzahn not close to naming a starting quarterback: "It's way too early. We're going to be for sure."
•Is the right tackle spot pretty wide open? "I'd say all positions are pretty wide open," says Auburn's Gus Malzahn
•Auburn practiced a first, second and third team Sunday
•Gus Malzahn on Auburn's third practice: "We got a lot of reps. It was very physical."
Scanning the roster
Tweeted it, but still true: Counting walk-ons, there are 39 true and redshirt freshmen on today's Auburn roster.
Kris Frost looking good
Kris Frost toyed with the idea of playing receiver in college, but Auburn always saw him as a linebacker. He's grown into the role, now at a solid 238 pounds after reporting in 2011 at 215 for what was a redshirt season. He's gained five pounds since last season, sure looks ready and will push for more significant playing time this fall in Ellis Johnson's defense.
Bulletin: Kris Frost updates his weight
The linebacker said Sunday he weighs 244 pounds, up from 230 of a year ago. The 238 figure is listed on the roster.
Running more backs
Tre Mason has a 1,000-yard season on his resume, but the spring success of Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant may mean he won't go it alone this season.
"It just depends," said Gus Malzahn. "If you're No. 2 guy is like a No. 1 guy, we've had a lot of success with a lot of different running backs. Sometimes we put two on the field. We're feeling more comfortable each day with our running backs."
Work, work, work
Auburn returns to the practice field late Sunday afternoon for Day 3 of fall work. It'll be the first day in shoulder pads.
Saturday, Aug. 3
Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson explains it all duirng first day of fall practice (Todd Van Emst photo)
Gus Malzahn, the familiar new coach
Gus Malzahn is one of four new head coaches in the SEC, but he has something the others don't. He's the only one who has coached in the SEC, thanks to spending three years as Auburn's offensive coordinator.
Defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker said Malzahn's fast-paced offense didn't bother him Friday at the first day of fall practice.. But why should it? He saw it in 2010 and 2011 and again in spring 2013.
"It's my third year doing it. It's no surprise how fast it's going to be," Whitaker said.
Still, the return to fall practice is special.
"First day, it was crazy. I think the new guys will help us," Whitaker said.
But maybe Whitaker's most important comment was this:
"It's just a different atmosphere among the whole crew."
Communication on defense
Auburn's cornerbacks didn't have an interception last season. They didn't have one on the first day of fall practice Friday, either.
Not to worry, says Jonathon Mincy. They will come.
"Just as long as nobody is catching the ball on us, that's something we can make an adjustment on, and that's something we can take as a positive and keep going the rest of camp," Mincy said.
The cornerback talked Friday of positive on-the-field communication. "That's definitely going to be something that is going to be key with us." That's significant because communication was lacking in Brian Van Gorder's defense last year, and it showed. Defensive backs previously said they had trouble getting lined up before the snap, especially late in the season. Quicker calls will be the order of the day in Ellis Johnson's defense.
Dividing up practice
Coach Gus Malzahn said he worked his veterans early Friday before bringing in his freshmen to get work. He'll use that same approach in Saturday's practice, which will begin around 4.
Mincy says the newcomers have looked good through the summer and in the first practice.
"I feel everybody is catching on well and that's something that is going to be key to this defense -- just having everybody able to bring something to the table and just having a lot of hands on deck. That's something we definitely appreciate," he said.
Johnson said over the summer the safety position is thin, so that's why freshman Mackendro Alexander was assigned that position -- actually the much-talked-about hybrid Star position -- to start fall ball. A safety in high school, he'll back up spring star Justin Garrett and Robenson Therezie.
Thursday, Aug. 1
Bloggers ready? We'll give it a go
Wonder what's going on at Auburn football practice? Maybe over at basketball? Other sports? Me, too. Maybe we (well, you, anyway) can figure this out in this blog. We'll be checking in with info and observations and some off-beat things from around Auburn athletics. There will be a heavy dose of football, for sure, starting with the start of football practice Friday.
Of course, there will be plenty of stories and notebooks on this website, too. Stay tuned...