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Phillip Marshall: Monday morning observations ...

March 31, 2014

With six practices in the books, most of Auburn’s football spring has gone about as expected. But there have been some interesting developments. Among them:

* Junior college transfer Derrick Moncrief has been getting snaps with the first team since the first practice and seems likely to still be getting snaps with the first team when the season opens against Arkansas on Aug. 30. He’s a big, fast and intelligent guy.

* Sophomore Rudy Ford, who played running back before moving to cornerback last season, is backing up senior safety Jermaine Whitehead and generating a lot of attention. He had, by all accounts, the biggest hit in last Saturday’s scrimmage. He’ll play at lot in the coming season and could be the heir apparent.

* Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Deon Mix has transformed his body since arriving last summer and looks like his time will come to make an impact.

* It comes as no surprise to those close to the program, but redshirt freshman Peyton Barber is really good. He’s competing with seniors Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant, and it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he could end up ahead of them both.

* Junior college transfer Xavier Dampeer has made steady progress and looks likely to be Reese Dismukes’ backup at center and the heir apparent when Dismukes is gone.

* It comes as no surprise that receiver D’haquille Williams, the nation’s top junior college prospect, has been wowing teammates and coaches.  He’s the real deal.

Moving on:

The weekend was disappointing for Auburn’s baseball team. After winning their first two series, the Tigers lost two of three to last-place Missouri. It could have been worse. The Tigers avoided a sweep by winning 7-3 in the series finale Saturday and are just one game out of first place.

Avoiding the sweep was crucial. It always is. John Pawlowski won enough series. But it was being swept that kept him out of regional play three times in four seasons.

What more can you say about Clint Myers and the Auburn softball team? The Tigers have already won more games than they won all of last season and, if they can finish strong against some really good teams, could be well be chosen to host a regional.

Considering how Kentucky struggled during the regular season and considering how close Tennessee came to playing on, you have to say that the NCAA Tournament has shown the Southeastern Conference to be better than advertised. After all, the Wildcats and Florida make up half the Final Four.

Great top to bottom? Certainly not. But teams like LSU, Arkansas and Georgia might have had better claims for getting into the tournament than most previously thought.

Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long created a stir Sunday when he announced Jimmy Dykes would be the school’s women’s basketball coach. Dykes is best known in these parts as the athletic director who hired Gus Malzahn at Shiloh Christian School, but he’s known nationally as an ESPN basketball analyst.

Dykes, an immensely popular Arkansas graduate, has not coached basketball at all for more than two decades and has never coached women’s basketball. That’s a real roll of the dice for Long.

Winning the press conference is fun, but press conferences don’t win games.

Nick Marshall has an opportunity to make Auburn quarterback history next season. Marshall was the starting quarterback in 11 Auburn wins last season. If he equals that number in 2014, he’ll pass Jason Campbell for the most wins over two seasons.

Campbell was the quarterback of record in 21 games in 2003 (8-5) and 2004 (13-0). Randy Campbell 1982-83), Reggie Slack (1987-88) and Brandon Cox (2005-06, 2006-07) sit at 20.

Marshall also could join Slack as a two-time SEC championship winner.

Until next time …


Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for Follow Marshall on Twitter:




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