Monthly Archives: March 2008

Acid Reign’s thoughts on A-Day (before A-Day), Al Borges, and the upcoming season…

By Acid Reign

…..I was at the Auburn/Alabama J. V. game the fall before that. Gene Lorendo was still teaching P. E. at Auburn when I was a freshman… I’m not sure A-Day is a valid indicator of how the season will go, anymore. This fall, I don’t think we should expect offensive miracles!

….Spring is always a time of abundant optimism, as life springs forth from the ground anew. Similarly do great prognostications hit the message boards, about one’s favorite football team, with the onset of spring drills. I think a tempered, common sense view is better. I do believe we’ll have a good defense. We’ve come to expect it, after six straight seasons of allowing less than 20 points per game. A realistic view of our offense is not as bright, nor should it be. It’s important to examine the facts, and not be calling for Tuberville’s head, when we don’t average forty points a game!

…..A season-high total offense figure (in an offense installed in 9 days!) in the Peach Bowl has given some of my Auburn brethren cause for wild expectations. In my opinion, two things contributed greatly to our success in the Peach Bowl. First, Clemson tried to stay in a base 4-3, 3-deep zone, for most of the game. We had not shown any real ability to throw deep during the regular season, and yet Clemson played off, allowing us to dink and dunk underneath, and slash off-tackle for consistent gains. Then, Cullen Harper had a miserable day throwing the ball, which led to a lot of Clemson 3 and outs. Even when they weren’t punting it away, it was short drives, like the big Spiller run for the TD. You’ll get a of plays in, if the other team is constantly going three and out…

……Any offense has to start with the offensive line, and we do have a capable one, at the very least, coming back. Christa Turner, over at Turnerloose has been publishing her observations on pass-rush drills, and frankly, the offensive line is largely dominating, especially since Antonio Coleman has been out. We may have a great OL this fall, OR… our youth on the defensive side may be to blame. It will be hard to say, till we see on the field against a quality opponent. For now, I believe that line-play will be the strength of the offense.

…..The most watched, and usually the single most important player on an offense is the quarterback. I think we still have serious questions, here. We’ll be very inexperienced. Kodi Burns does have a few snaps here and there, and considerable playing time in the Mississippi State, New Mexico State, and Clemson games. I’m not sold on Kodi as a big-time division one passer, and evidently, offensive coordinator Tony Franklin is not, either. Kodi can run, but if he can’t keep defenses honest with his throws, it won’t matter. Chris Todd seems, at this time, to have similar arm-strength to Brandon Cox. The oft-injured Neil Caudle has fallen behind, and DeRon Furr is not only WAY behind, but is hurt as well. We may have a two-headed QB situation this fall, with Kodi in to run, and Todd to pass. That’s not usually a good thing against SEC defenses. (Aside: the real reason Al Borges is gone? Recruiting. When Al came in, we had senior Jason Campbell, Rfr Brandon Cox, and new signees Calvin Booker and Blake Field. Recruits since then? Neil Caudle, Steven Emsminger, and Kodi Burns. The first two weren’t exactly five-stars, and Kodi’s not a West Coast QB. Before Borges, we got receiver classes like the Taylor/Aromashodu/Mix/Obamanu group. Since? We are nowhere CLOSE to having the skill players we did in 2004.)

……One area to watch is peripheral blocking support. One way to beat the spread is to pressure the QB. We’ll need help from tight ends and backs, to blunt blitzes. It is surprising, considering Al Borges’ preference for a two-back offense, that we are very, very thin, here. After 4 years of Borges, we have NO fullbacks with even a single snap of college experience. We’ll need to knock out a third and one here and there, or we’ll be a team that roars up the field and can’t score in the red zone. At tight end, Gabe McKensie and Tommy Trott (maybe) should be good as blockers. We’ve got one healthy tailback right now, Brad Lester, and he’s small. Ben Tate, when/if he returns, will be the only other back with significant blocking experience.

……We’ll need to be a WHOLE lot better in the receiving corps, this year, to move the ball consistently. We had two reliable receivers last season, Rod Smith and Montez Billings. They aren’t exactly blue-chippers, either. They are good possession guys, but we’ve sorely lacked a deep threat for several years. We desperately need some stretch-the-field, big-play receivers. I thought Robert Dunn might be that guy, and he did save our bacon a couple of times late with big plays, but thus far in Dunn’s career, he drops more than he catches. Same with Tim Hawthorne, on the hands. Chris Slaughter seems to have decent hands, and I’ve heard good things about Terrell Zachary. There’s reason to hope, but no evidence yet, to prove that we’ll be much better this year, than last year.

……For the past two winters, we’ve salivated over the prospect of a stable full of good runners. By the time 2007 started, we had Ben Tate and Mario Fannin, only. Their inexperience was a big reason our offense was so awful early on. Both improved as the season went on, and gave reason to be excited this year. A month ago, we were trying to figure out how Tony Franklin was going to use four quality runners in the backfield. And now, we’re down to one healthy, very tired 194-pounder, Brad Lester. Brad’s flashy and dangerous. He’s also not had a record for dependability/durability. I seriously doubt he could be a 30-carry a game guy, for very long. Yes, I know all of these guys are supposed to be back by August. But, if they all got wrecked in the first week of spring practice, what’s going to happen against an SEC schedule? Again, to pick on big Al once more: before Al: Rudi Johnson, Ronnie Brown, Carnell Williams, Brandon Jacobs, Kenny Irons. Since Al: tape, casts, boots, and what we have now.

……What we have this year on offense, is the culmination of four years of sub-standard offensive skill player recruiting. That’s why Tony Franklin was brought in. With the West Coast offense, we were unable to bring in the McFadden/Tebow/Harvin/Moreno-caliber player. We do have some exciting guys in this year’s recruiting class, but very few true freshmen really make an impact. This year, we’ll likely sputter at times, particularly against the better defenses. We’ll HAVE to take really good care of the ball, to have a chance to keep pace with LSU and Georgia.

……We may see an offensive explosion in the A-Day game, but it will mean nothing. Tuberville often won’t let the defense blitz on A-Day, and they’ll sit back like Clemson did, and play base defense. The screen and quick out will be there all day, and we might roll up a LOT of yards. I think it will in no way, be indicative of what real-live play will be like in the fall. War Eagle, enjoy the show Saturday, and I really, really hope these fine young men prove me dead-wrong!

UPDATE! 

…..After watching the “joined in progress” CSS telecast of A-Day, most of my prognostications about the game itself, stood up. Of course, that was just the last two minutes of the first half, and the second half. We’ll get a better look when CSS rebroadcasts the thing on Thursday night, 6 PM Eastern, 7 PM central.

…..I was impressed with Chris Todd. Yes, there are arm-strength issues. But he had the hot hand, getting the ball out quickly, and not stuffing it into coverage. Burns did fine, and we’ll need his running ability. Furr and Caudle were clearly behind. Too often, they were taking off on 3rd and long, and trying to do it with their legs. Caudle showed surprising speed, considering all the surgeries he’s had…

…..With the exception of Gabe McKenzie, the receivers caught the ball. That has to be the most encouraging thing I saw in the game. Most disappointing? The defensive line. Now, I didn’t see SenDerrick Marks, or Antoine Carter out there. But, oh! Those guys got mauled! From the middle of the third quarter on, they were just leaning on the offensive line for support. Totally gassed!

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It’s Pronounced JORDAN: A-Day ’69…

Imagine being able to say you were there for this A-Day game…

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Spring Practice Report – 3.25.08

By J. Henderson

It’s spring. The mornings are freezing. We’re breathing.

Feels like football.

I had the pleasure of attending about half of yesterday morning’s practice, the first since returning from Spring Break. It looked like a practice with guys just returning from Spring Break. I can still hear the bark of Paul Rhoads. Mario Fannin walked by me in the hall, his arm in a sling. “Hey, man.”

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With the exception of red zone skeleton drills, Tony Franklin said the offense “looked like crap” and took the blame.

“It was a poor job on my part gettin’em prepared to go out there.”

Franklin’s candor has moved beyond refreshing to almost exhilarating and his straightforward style is especially on when answering questions concerning the quarterback situation, which reporters seem eager to put to bed. Franklin just keeps feeding it candy.

One of the first questions asked: Will Kodi Burns be the first team quarterback for the A-Day game?

Though he later admitted that Burns has the potential to be the video game everyone dreamed him to be out of high school, Franklin didn’t just answer “no” – with that great accent of his, it was more like “neh-oh,” a slight twang of disgust.

“Right now, [Burns and Todd] are alternating with each other and they will keep doing that,” Franklin said. “There is no No. 1, or else there are two No. 1s, however you want to look at it, you know? I talked with all four quarterbacks and talked about what direction we’re going in, you know, it’s impossible to rep four guys. You can’t do it and be good.”

The only action Neil Caudle saw yesterday (at least from when I arrived) was signaling calls in from the sideline; Franklin, however, seems to think highly of him.

“Neil will be a great backup for them,” Franklin said. “He’s a great team guy, a great Auburn guy that wants to be here. He’ll do a great job as a backup. If one of them falters, he’ll be ready to step in and take his place.”

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Tommy Trott, alone in the end zone. Franklin calld Trott “dynamic.”

He also said that, of the four quarterbacks, it was probably Caudle who best “verbalized” his vision for a play, but that under center, Todd currently possessed more of the particular clairvoyance necessary to make Franklin happy.

DeRon Furr on the other hand, despite his obvious physical talent, is a long way off. Or as Franklin put it, “a long, long, long, long, long, long way off.” That’s six longs.

“The big thing about playing quarterback is that, if you don’t know it when you step on the field, if you don’t have mental pictures of where everything is going to be and where it’s going to happen, you got no chance, none. And right now [Furr] doesn’t have any idea,” Franklin said.

“He’s a young kid. He’s going to be a good player. He’ll probably be a great player one day, but not tomorrow.”

Franklin is focused on today.

“The last few practices here, we are giving Chris and Kodi most of the reps and let’em work. If somebody emerges clear-cut a lot better than the other one, you may have one guy. But I don’t think that’s going to happen and I’ve told them I don’t think it is. I think they will go into the summer and will be competing against each other.”

When it came time for the reporters to turn their recorders on Paul Rhoads, Franklin said “now go talk to the guys who whipped our ass all day.”

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Def. Coordinator Paul Rhoads congratulating the ass-whoopers.

(Click here to see all of my photos, a cutting edge collection that puts you right in the thick of things, it’ll feel like a Disney ride.)

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2008 Preview

Courtesy of autiger96, of course…

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An Indecent Proposal?

By J.M. Comer

So the final tallies are in for EA Sports’ “NCAA Football ’09 Wii Cover Mascot Challenge” and Auburn placed 4th with Bama coming in 9th.

The winner of the 2009 cover? The Michigan State Spartans. Whoop-dee-dang-doodle-doo.

But I have an idea. Please follow along with me with an open mind. What if Aubie were to share the cover with Alabama’s Big Al? What if Auburn fans and Bama fans issued a petition to the video game makers for combining the two schools’ votes, thus, pushing the tally over the top?

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Big Al has let himself go recently.

I know, I know. Some of you just recoiled in disgust. But I’m thinking of more of an Iron Bowl motif. And wouldn’t it look dynamic to have the rival schools facing off on the cover? Wouldn’t this move help out sales of the game (listen up EA!) by appealing to two fan bases instead of one? Of course, as a starting point in the Auburn-Bama petition negotiations, I would suggest that since Auburn received more votes than Bama, that Aubie should get three-fifths of the Wii cover, or Aubie gets the upper hand in mascot high jinx, or Aubie gets to stand in the foreground, raising a number 6, as Big Al sulks in his two-fifths of space. Just random, unbiased thoughts.

Can we put together an online petition? Can we span the Auburn-Bama blog and fan divide to push for a bigger cause … a bigger, nerdy, video game cause?

I’m throwing it out there. What are your thoughts about this proposal? Is there someone out there that frequents Bama blogs … an ambassador that can speak for Auburn blog/message board nation?

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Wii Wuz Robbed

J.M. nailed it, we wuz robbed. “Buffest Mascot?” — Did he also win “Greenest Mascot” by Green Magazine, or “Spartaniest Mascot” from Spartan Magazine? I’m sorry, but human costume mascots suck. Why not have an actually buff real MSU student dressed up like a Spartan… if you have any…

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You want a real mascot, a real man, a real show? Then you want Aubie. Screw the vote, you want Aubie…

Watch him here make fun of that nancy Syracuse Orange, teleport from blond to blond to blond, and then hop in a jacuzzi with some ’80s action. Wii demand a recount…

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Toomer’s Rumors and Boomers – 3.17.08

It’s a little slow right now. Spring Break. You can actually drive around town. You can get some stuff done.

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I honestly can’t remember where I got this picture, but it’s great. If you know whose it is, or if it’s yours, let me know and I’ll give full credit.

*** I slammed on the brakes in front of Anders Friday to let Tristan Davis cross the street. I rolled the passenger-side window down and when he stepped up on the campus-side curb I yelled “touchdown!” Alright, that I made up, but he did give me the “thank you” nod and we totally did “War Eagle” each other with our eyes. He seems to be walking fine. Also, I swear I saw the Snorg girl or someone very much like the Snorg girl at Mike and Ed’s yesterday.

*** Polls are closed on the Wii cover vote. J.M. pointed out that now, when you go to the page, and start through the motions, it lists the “current standings” and has Aubie 4th out of 10. But since the winner won’t be announced until Tuesday, the 18th, it makes me wonder whether the online vote is simply one component factoring into their decision. It’s either that, or they found some hanging chads and are counting votes by hand.

*** I’m working on a new idea for a series, nothing too special, but hopefully fun.

In the meantime, enjoy this bizarre but AUsome new rap…

R33se he ain’t, but War Eagle.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

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