Category Archives: Auburn’s Cast of Thousands

“Getting down in a [three-point] stance isn’t natural.”

So what makes for a seemingly can’t miss, second pick in the NFL draft offensive tackle’s failure to stick with the team that drafted him only three years ago?  How about playing for Gus Malzahn?

… It’s been sort of mystifying; he’s a top-tier athlete, a guy that consistently bullied defensive linemen in the run game in college, and yet he can’t seem to beat anyone at the pro level. What happened?

He was essentially playing a different game at Auburn. The Tigers’ offense was a spread-out, space-based option system, a modern derivative of the Wing-T, and it required completely different things of Robinson than what the Rams’ old-school, I-formation-style scheme would. Robinson, like many college linemen transitioning to the NFL of late, had little experience with the types of blocks he needed to be able to execute at the next level. In former NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz’s informative piece on SB Nation breaking down the difficulties of transitioning to the professional game, he notes that “Robinson played in [a college offense] that barely resembled anything that exists in the NFL. I could hardly find any clips to make comparisons [for what he’s done with the Rams].”  [Emphasis added.]

The lack of overlap in technique from the college game to the pros is becoming an increasingly common issue for scouts and evaluators, making a position that’s traditionally been considered a relatively safe bet much trickier to hit on in the draft. “Sometimes you go through 80 plays [on a college tape] and only eight of them are truly gradable, where they’re at the point of contact and they’re actually doing something you’re going to ask them to do,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said at the combine in February.

“A lot of the [spread offense] offensive linemen, they’re not necessarily asked to run off the ball, and [set] a guy up, and try to move [a big defensive end] three yards down the field,” Titans general manager Jon Robinson said in 2016. “They’re kind of asked to just ‘zone and occupy,’ and let the backs cut off the blocks. So you really have to dig through those plays where you can really see him unroll his hips, and dig his cleats in, and really get moving.”

It appears it’s not just the Nick Marshalls of the world who have trouble transitioning from Auburn’s offense to the pros.  I hope Kirby and Sam Pittman are printing off copies of this article to pass around to as many high school lineman recruits as they possibly can.

(h/t)

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Strategery And Mechanics

Pat Dye says Auburn will never be man enough for Alabama.

Quite the vote of confidence here.

“We could play football for another 500 years and we couldn’t catch up with the tradition Alabama has got, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good football program and a strong football program. It doesn’t mean we can’t have football teams that recruit good enough to beat Alabama on occasion.”

“On occasion”?  Geez.  No wonder he wants to see the Tigers move to the East.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands

“Seems like the one year of punishment should be enough.”

It rarely is, momma.  It rarely is.

Sounds like you guys need to work the media harder.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands

Nick Marshall, and when recruiting chickens come home to roost

Kirby Smart’s got a reputation for being fairly ruthless on the recruiting trail, which makes for a great story about one of Georgia’s 2017 signees, Tray Bishop.

Bishop actually was committed to the Tigers for a long time. He pledged his services to Auburn coach Gus Malzahn in July of 2016 with the intention of heading to the Plains as Auburn’s next great quarterback. It’s the position he played most of his four years at Terrell County and the one he planned on playing in college.

Nevertheless, while telling Bishop he was their quarterback of the future, the Tigers still listed him as an athlete on their recruiting board and continued to recruit other quarterbacks. Auburn told him playing other positions would be an option if signal caller did not work out, but the school’s continued pursuit of other QB targets began to ring disingenuous to Bishop and others in his circle of trust.

“The [Auburn] coaches told me from the get-go they wanted me as a quarterback, but if I signed it was going to be as a quarterback/athlete,” Bishop said. “If I didn’t like quarterback I could go to any other position, receiver or defensive back. After a while, though, my whole mentality changed. I decided I didn’t want to play offense.”

Georgia had a lot to do with that. From the jump, the Bulldogs were saying they liked Bishop as a defensive back. They told him they felt he had the speed to play cornerback and the size to play cornerback or safety. They also spent a lot of time citing NFL data about the number of players that get drafted as a quarterback versus those that get their names called as defensive backs. The Florida Gators were giving Bishop the same spiel, and it quickly started to make sense to him.

Meanwhile, Bishop continued to get knocked around as the Greenwaves’ quarterback. While he enjoyed playing the position for his school, and did it quite well, he never experienced much in the way of team success and stayed beat up most of the time. The only time they made the state playoffs was Bishop’s senior year, and he couldn’t play because of a fractured ankle and torn ligaments. Terrell County went 20-20 while competing in Region 1-A during Bishop’s four years in the program.

“I always told the coaches recruiting me, ‘Tell me what you think, not what you think I want to hear. Tell me the truth. If I can’t do it, I can’t,’” Bishop said. “When Coach Tucker [Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker] came to see me play, he’d tell me that he thought I had the potential to play corner. He said, ‘There’s a few things I can teach you and it’ll be on from there.’ I always appreciated that.”

Toombs admits she wanted her son to go to Auburn. Bishop’s grandparents also “were enamored with the idea of him playing quarterback at Auburn,” according to Huff. But Huff was advising against it.

“Basically what I told him was, in two or three years you’re going to have to learn to play defensive back or receiver for the NFL,” Huff said. “In the meantime, Auburn started signing these other quarterbacks. I think Tray saw the writing on the wall. They were just trying to recruit an athlete and they were going to move him anyway.”

No doubt the recent game of musical chairs at Auburn’s quarterback position helped, but you can almost hear the “so, where’s Marshall playing today?” singing in the background.  Well played, Mr. Smart.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Georgia Football, Recruiting

The SEC — it just means too much.

You know, for a conference that prides itself on being tougher than all the others, there sure is a lot of sanctimonious whining about playing Alabama going on lately.

I guess it’s easier to complain about playing Nick Saban than to advocate a nine-game conference schedule.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Nick Saban Rules

Profile in courage, War Eagle!

Jay Jacobs says Pat Dye’s suggestion that Auburn should move to the SEC East “makes sense”.

Such a move would create a serious logistical problem (Alabama would have to give up one of its traditional rivalry games, and you know which one Jacobs would prefer to see ‘Bama vacate), but when I consider the amount of shit that would rain down on the program for making a gutless move like that, it’s almost worth letting Auburn do it.

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Ain’t man enough no more.

I joked about this the other day, but apparently Pat Dye really is sick and tired of Auburn playing Alabama.

“I’d rather see Auburn in the East than us to play Alabama every year,” Dye said Tuesday during a taping for his weekly radio show on ESPN 106.7-FM in Auburn, according to Auburn Network producer Zac Blackerby.

Many Auburn fans would probably not like that scenario, but Dye has his reasons for shedding the Iron Bowl from the calendar every year.

“We don’t need to let Alabama dictate what we do at Auburn,” he said. “We can play them on a rotation, just like everybody else.”

I can’t even begin to imagine the shit that would rain down on Auburn fans from ‘Bama folks if the Tigers bailed on the rivalry.

I don’t know if Nick Saban is the greatest coach in SEC history, but I’m pretty sure he’s affected the thinking of more conference coaches and administrators than any other coach in SEC history.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Nick Saban Rules