Tag Archives: Paul Rhoads

No thanks to the offensive offensive line

By J.M. Comer

From The Birmingham News:

Auburn center Ryan Pugh — he of the holding penalty that resulted in a safety for Mississippi State — walked off the field with a smile and turned to some Auburn cheerleaders.

“I scored more points than their offense,” Pugh said, shaking his head.

And you and your o-line teammates’ penalties for holding and such almost totaled the offensive output for Mississippi State last night. Hilarious! Total comedy gold.

If there is any justice, someone on Paul Rhoads’ incredible, magical defense will knock Pugh on his ass in practice today (and I hope to hell that there is a practice today). Repeatedly.

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Thoughts from the West Texas observatory – La. Monroe

Anonymous Flickr Auburn Fan mocks my handicap…

By J. Henderson

I promise I’ll soon shut-up about my expatriate acclimation, but allow me to say that while running out to the new neighborhood grocery store with my young’n just before kickoff to buy the Fritos we forgot earlier at Wal-Mart, and hearing the Texas Tech game (they won big) playing over the intercom, but then having my Dad call, holding the phone up for me to hear the eagle fly, fly, fly, me trying to keep the phone on my shoulder while holding young’n’s hand in the check out line, and then hearing the tinny, apocalyptic “hell, yeah, hell, yeah dun, dun, dun, dun, dun”-style pre-pre-game video as she said “Look Daddy, Auburn colors” to the M&M’s I just poured out for her before we hopped back in the van, well, allow me to say that I almost broke down.

It was all XM last night. The first I saw of anything that happened yesterday on Pat Dye Field was this wee-hour morning, I was the 45th view of Plainsgmail’s YouTubed ESPN 40 sec. highlight clip.

Listen to Holtz gush over Robert Dunn (and James? Jane?) — do you think The Auburner got to him? (They did make this, right?)

And speaking of The Auburner, then I found their highlight video. And it made me very happy.

Amazing, and thank you.

But now, knowing that I only heard, knowing that I wasn’t sweating my way back home through the steamy kudzu shouts of victory up Bragg Ave. after the game (oh mercy), but thousands of miles away in a computer chair, allow me my thoughts on Week One.

I think it says something, a good something, that a first game 34-0 shutout of any team, even (or especially) one bearing the psychic “remember what they did to… what if… ” gravitas of this year’s La. Monroe (though I was the first to predict a loss almost literally impossible because of said gravitas) at first seemed so disappointing, inauspicious even.

However, from my pathetic vantage point I don’t there is as much cause for gloomish alarm regarding the offense as text messages from the front (thank you Russell) made out. I won’t run through the stats and such (but a little something interesting was Rod Bramblett’s comment that by scoring his touchdown, Robert Dunn broke the nation’s longest no-punt-return-for-TD drought, it was our first punt return for a touchdown since 1996, seems almost impossible — and while we’re on the subject of Dunn, though my dreamy “watch for this” regarding a Todd to Smith shuffle pass to the right for a touchdown almost seemed / sounded to come true at some point in the 3rd quarter, I say we go ahead and award Jerry the Leonard Postosties Smart Pill Award for the entire year for his just before kickoff prognostication:

4. Robert Dunn is going to break a punt return this year.

End parentheses)…

Here’s the obvious:

Tony Franklin is obviously to be taken seriously when he waxes strategic on his spread wearing down defenses as we obviously got better in the second half, thanks perhaps to the much improved performance of the offensive line possibly resulting from, as Will notes, and Quentin Riggins reported, a lively exhortation from Tony the Tiger … we obviously should get the ball to Fannin more (guaranteed and instant five yard gain from first point of contact with defender), Ben Tate is obviously awesome, Antonio Coleman will obviously, tragically kill a man before December, and Paul Rhoads should obviously be pleased — his first coached play as Auburn’s defensive coordinator resulted in a touchdown, the first point’s of ’08.

As for the quarterback situation, it’s obviously as I, and most everyone, suspected, and as the handwriting on the wall said all along — total Voltron-style.

I, for one, don’t think this is a bad thing. I never have. Perhaps I don’t know anything, not one thing, but I can’t help but think that as long as (or especially if) Chrodi Torns (or, if you prefer, Khrisodi Burn-Stodd) is fine with it, it’s actually a good thing. I don’t think the purported, and yeah, logical, psychological benefits of lone leaderdom negate the potential for similar benefits / results from a dual-threat tandem. Nor do I buy into the idea, batted around by Q and the gang early in last night’s radio broadcast, that the revolving doorness of it all might be the source of Chrodi Torns’ seemingly stymied grooves. That might fly if Burns and Todd were switching places on every down, but surely not every series — wouldn’t a QB’s specialized biorhythms simply interpret the extra breathers as a sustained drive by the other team or a long CBS-style TV timeout? In fact, as my man Stan White countered, the system, as implemented last night, might theoretically enhance said (said said said) biorhythms, infusing them with the dopamine of competition. Or something. I don’t know. I just don’t think the quarterback rotation had much of anything to do with the early, very ’07-style offensive ineffectuality. I think that’s mistaking a symptom for the cause. I just think that, instead of one first-time-starting quarterbacks struggling in a a season opener, we saw two.

I don’t think that will last long.

My continued hopes however, oh yes, they last, they go on… because if the loitering hurricanes, the new coordinators, and the new offensive system haven’t seemed familiar enough to flood your veins with pangs of the eternal pangs and dreams of ’04, please to enjoy not only Will’s great recap of yesterday (and Jerry’s too! great!), but his included recap of 2004’s season opener against… La. Monroe.

Disclaimer: this is not by any stretch a prediction. But. Four years ago, I wrote this about an Auburn opening against… LAMO:

On the one hand, you’ve got a workmanlike shutout of (let’s face it) one of the worst football teams in the country. To their great credit, Louisiana Monroe’s players didn’t show a lot of give-up on Saturday, but they also didn’t show a whole lot of ability. Auburn substituted all the way into the scout team by the fourth quarter, and the closest LA-MO ever got to scoring was a couple of missed field goals. On the other hand…

Look, it’s obvious that the AU coaches went into this game intending to show future opponents absolutely nothing of use, and it’s safe to say that they succeeded. “Vanilla” doesn’t begin to describe the blandness of the formations and plays displayed on Saturday. Try “tasteless and odorless,” or maybe “invisible.”

… With that understood, there are still worries. Either La-Mo’s defensive line has gotten a lot better since last October (entirely possible; they were big and quick, easily the best-looking athletes as a group that the Indians fielded), or Hugh Nall still has a lot of work to do up front. Run blocking was hit-and-miss (sometimes literally), and pass blocking was downright bad a lot of the time. And don’t get me started on the reappearance of last year’s bugaboo, the dreaded slanting defenders. More than once, a friend sitting nearby said, “It’s a good thing they suck, or we’d be in trouble.”

I would also be remiss if I didn’t admit that Jason Campbell’s play was not encouraging. Whether by habit, design, or just happenstance, Campbell is still locking in on his first guy and not seeing open receivers down the field, he’s throwing behind the receiver too often, and his two turnovers were flat-out awful, the kind of stuff you expect from a freshman, not a fifth-year senior.

Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?

Now, once again–not a prediction, or anything remotely like it. I’m not expecting, anticipating, or even wildly dreaming about a 2004-ish run for this team. But it’s still comforting, in an odd and nostalgic kind of way, that the best Auburn season in recent history also started against LAMO, and not with a bang, but with a “What the–?”

Now, in other news, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Bama is back.

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Getting DeFensive

By J.M. Comer

The War Eagle Reader offers a fall practice roundup of news reports, focusing on Auburn’s defense.

Auburn Undercover talks with DC Paul Rhoads

Look for more from The War Eagle Reader on Paul Rhoads by the end of this week, focusing on his Pitt Panther defenses.

Paul Rhoads talks about the freshmen

Speaking on Saturday (Aug. 2), Auburn defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads said his freshmen are well aware how important the next few weeks of practice will be. “I think they’re extremely aware, and they’ve approached it that way,” Rhoads said. “I think they got shocked a little bit the first day. What they’ve done in the summer is a little bit different than practicing with these varsity football players on the practice field.” (The Huntsville Times, Aug. 5)

On Deron Furr’s absence

Safety Zac Etheridge did shed some light on the Saturday fight, however, saying that he wanted to send a message to the freshmen about practicing with the proper level of effort.It was Etheridge who first squared off with Furr before several other defensive backs jumped onto the pile. Once coaches and trainers broke up the brawl, Furr was left sitting on hands and knees without his helmet and needed a great deal of assistance from a trainer to stagger to a nearby tent. He spent the rest of Saturday’s practice sitting underneath the tent but did participate in Auburn’s fan day that afternoon. “It was just setting an example to the freshmen,” said Etheridge, who added he has not spoken with Furr recently. “It wasn’t nothing like bumping heads. It was just showing them that we’re here to work and get to the championship.” Asked what specifically happened that led to the fight, Etheridge elaborated further. “It’s just that everyone was tired,” he said. “The heat was bothering everyone. He just didn’t push himself hard, but other than that, (it) got the other freshmen to learn and they picked it up today.” (The Ledger-Enquirer, Aug. 5)

*UPDATE by J. Henderson* – Furr is transferring. I hate to lose him, I hate to lose anyone, especially someone of Furr’s athleticism. But man, every time Furr has been brought up since March, all I’ve been able to think of is Coach Tony Franklin’s candid spring practice assessment of DeRon’s chances at playing quarterback, which I was blessed to hear up close:

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.

Aaron Savage injured, damnit

Cornerback Aaron Savage landed awkwardly attempting to break up a pass and let out several high-pitched cries. Trainers were at his side in seconds. Savage’s entire right leg was immobilized, and he was quickly driven off the field on a cart. … “We can’t afford to lose anybody, especially a guy with that experience,” Tuberville said. If Savage’s injury is serious, it would be an enormous blow to a secondary that appears to be the weakest link in Auburn’s defense. (The Huntsville Times, Aug. 5)

Junior Walt McFadden moved in for Savage during the second half of practice Monday. McFadden, whose brother Bryant plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was used primarily in the Tigers’ nickel and dime packages in 2007. Beyond McFadden, though, Auburn’s depth chart is sparse. Sophomore Ryan Williams played as a true freshman last season, but Tuberville recently said Williams is in the coach’s “dog house” for academic problems. Williams also missed approximately half of the team’s voluntary summer workouts. With his grades apparently no longer a problem, Williams has to focus on his conditioning, according to Tuberville. “He’s just not in great shape right now,” Tuberville said. “He hasn’t been here, so we’ve got to get him in better shape.” (The Montgomery Advertiser, Aug. 5, Opelika-Auburn News, Aug. 2)

Another Savage makes a big move

Freshman defensive end Jomarcus Savage provided the highlight of Auburn’s practice Monday, knocking tackle Lee Ziemba to the ground during a drill. Savage and Ziemba were matched one-on-one when Savage faked left and right. The moves confused Ziemba, who rocked back on his heels. Savage then rammed Ziemba in the chest and knocked him on his back, resulting in what Auburn coaches call a “cockroach block.” (The Montgomery Advertiser, Aug. 5)

Standoff in the trenches

There was a good standoff between Tyronne Green and Sen’Derrick Marks right when I got there. On the first go, Green stonewalled Marks and Sen’Derrick kind of deflected backwards and told Green he did a great job. Marks fought past him to the quarterback on the next one, setting up what Hugh Nall said would be the rubber match. On the third go-round, Marks tried to bull rush Green, who stood his ground enough for Marks to fall down before he made it into the backfield. Those guys were going hard. It was very entertaining to watch and I think the coaches were enjoying that one as well. (War Eagle Extra, Aug. 5)

Injury Watch

Defensive end Antonio Coleman continues to be limited by a sore hamstring. Defensive end Michael Goggans sat out with bruised ribs. (The Huntsville Times, Aug. 5)

Defensive tackle Tez Doolittle practiced Saturday, less than a year after rupturing his Achilles’ tendon. The former Opelika star participated in position drills with the other defensive linemen, but was held out of team drills. Tuberville said Doolittle is actually entirely recovered from the Achilles’ injury, but has strained his hamstring and could be slowed for a few days.

Defensive end Antonio Coleman sat out of team drills with what Tuberville called a hamstring injury. Coleman missed all of spring practice after spraining his neck while being blocked by offensive tackle Lee Ziemba.

Freshman defensive back T’Sharvan Bell (ankle) spent most of Saturday’s practice on stationary bikes. (Opelika-Auburn News, Aug. 2)

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Toomer’s Rumors and Boomers – 8.4.08

By J.M. Comer

The War Eagle Reader offers a roundup of interesting news stories, questionable opinions and great comments from other team’s fans about the Auburn Tigers across the blogosphere.

News and Recruiting Roundup

Arkansas sports columnist picks Auburn at #3 (NWAnews.com, Aug. 3) Note: No, it isn’t news that’s straight outta Compton.

The AJC offers a crash course on Tony Franklin’s spread offense (AJC.com, July 31)

The University of Alabama’s chaplin, Jeremiah Castille, needs a refresher visit to Auburn University it seems (Montgomery Advertiser, Aug. 1)

Recruit #21 commits to Auburn, says the The Gold Mine

Work begins today on Auburn’s new basketball arena (al.com, Aug. 4)

ESPN says the home games in Tuscaloosa and the Iron Bowl are “Not Hot” this football season. Note: The column says Auburn will be going for #6 in a row this year. Fact check, please! (ESPN.com, Aug. 4)

Do you remember Joey Barrett Jr.’s off-the-field performance the night before Sackapalooza ’05? This is getting strange. The Mobile Press-Register reports: A Mobile cage fighter accused of inciting a brawl in front of an Auburn University fraternity house by yelling “Roll Tide” — and stabbing several people in the subsequent melee — is now charged with bribing a mentally retarded man to take the rap.

Click here for footage of either Barrett or his dad?!?! fighting at Mobile’s Abba Temple.

Brief comment on media coverage of the coordinators

I want more information on the new defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads! The media outlets are focusing on offensive coordinator Tony Franklin and the quarterback battle (Google News results on stories about Rhoads reveal 52 dating back to early July, as Franklin merits 156 stories dating back to late July.)

What do we know about Rhoads? He’s a nice guy that likes to teach fundamentals and used to coach at Pitt. The War Eagle Reader will try to peer into the information void this week.

The eyes of the Eagle see all!

Exhalted Eagle!

War Eagle!

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Cullman County Auburn Club Welcomes Coach Paul Rhoads to Football

Al Borges use to talk about how Auburn was the first place he’d coached where the fans knew who he, a mere assistant, was… the first place he was stopped and hugged in a Wal-Mart.

Paul Rhoads was signing autographs last night in Cullman.

“I’m in my 20th year as a Division I football coach, and I have never ever been a part of a greeting like that.”

On what to expect from the Auburn defense:

“I guarantee that we’ll play all Saturday long. We’ll hit you hard all day and we’ll tell you about it.”

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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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Toomer’s Rumors and Boomers – 2.25.08

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Dean James Foy, 90, sings the Auburn Fight Song during yesterday’s presentation of the ODK Trophy which bears his name, the man can wail. Photo by Frank Couch.

*** Kind of an awesome Auburn weekend: Auburn’s swimming and diving teams, both the men’s and women’s, extend their exclusive patent on water with two more SEC titles… Auburn’s baseball team opens its season with three wins over East Tennessee State… we beat Bama soundly in basketball as Dean Foy, in the way only he can, exults in the unprecedented glow of six football wins in a row and Coach Tuberville lays down lines like: “Regardless of what you’ve read or heard, we will have a football team next year. We’ve won six and we’re working on seven. War Eagle!”…

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Photo by Frank Couch

… we get what seems to be a very solid commitment from what seems to be a very solid player in defensive end Terrance Coleman, nephew of the great Antonio… and then we get to see that yes, Auburn will have a football team next year, a fast, exciting team.

*** Along those lines, I was there, there for the practice, most of it (couldn’t afford the basketball game, ahem). It was a sweet flash of huddle-less hyperactivity; those boys will be nothing if not in shape for it was quite literally non-stop. Some observations… Tony Franklin, if that was even him, looks far different from the photos we’ve seen, but that’s what you want in an offensive genius: shape shifting… Mario Fannin can break chains with a flex… Paul Rhoads will be popular amongst his players… Kodi, as we all know, can chunk the ball.

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Excitement quietly ruled the afternoon. The sun set. The smell of cut grass lingers. Click here for my incredible photo odyssey…

*** 8th Bama player arrested in 14 month Saban-era: Joining the ranks or recent Tide team leaders Juwan Simpson, and Simeon Castille, Alabama safety, Rashad Johnson, a team captain, was arrested over the weekend for allegedly assaulting a security guard for a Tuscaloosa bar, the second player arrest in a week. Is this even news any more? I’ve often wondered how life changes for the everyday Tuscaloosans dealt into these fiascoes; almost certainly Bama fans themselves, do the once-anonymous cops, the bruised bar bouncers, the robbed at gun-point classmates, struggle with their fanhood, their fanliness, after the fact, knowing that fate forced them to help heap even more ignominy on the University of Alabama’s football program?

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