Category Archives: Auburn’s Cast of Thousands

The day the rabbit’s foot died.

Speaking of the departure of Gus’ good fortune, Bill Connelly nails it to the day — indeed, the moment.

On November 8, 2014, a week after pulling off a staggering escape at Ole Miss (the game in which the Rebels’ Laquon Treadwell injured his leg and fumbled just shy of the go-ahead touchdown), Auburn hosted Texas A&M, another suddenly flagging program. The Tigers were 24-point favorites, and even though they trailed 35-17 at halftime, it felt like only a matter of time until the inevitable comeback. They had won nine of 10 one-possession games under Malzahn. They would find a way.

Indeed, the score was just 41-38 in the final minute, and Auburn was driving. But a miscommunication between quarterback Nick Marshall and center Reese Dismukes resulted in an errant snap, and A&M recovered it to seal the upset.

Since that moment, they have lost six of nine one-possession games and are 8-10 overall. And two of their three close wins averted upsets; they played not to lose against Kentucky last year and just barely succeeded, and they needed overtime to take down FCS’ Jacksonville State.

And, yeah, to reiterate the message from my last post, that schedule is just brutal:  “If the Tigers are indeed the 24th-best team in the country, they will labor to find six wins.”

Um… good luck with that, Gus.

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Accident? I think not.

It’s a damned conspiracy, PAWWWLLL.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Whoa, oh, Alabama

A short history of Jay Jacobs and Auburn’s head coaches

Per Jon Solomon:

There are votes of confidence worth taking to heart. And then there are votes of confidence from Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs, who this offseason gave Malzahn high praise and a one-year contract extension through 2020. Consider Jacobs’ track record.

“I don’t see anything changing. I’m looking forward to Tommy [Tuberville] being the coach at Auburn for a long, long time.” — Jacobs in November 2007, one year before Tuberville was forced out

“We will continue to provide Coach (Gene) Chizik and our football program the resources needed to build a strong foundation so that we can consistently compete for championships in the future. We look forward to Coach Chizik being our coach at Auburn for a long, long time.” — Jacobs in June 2011, one year before Chizik was fired

“[Gus Malzahn’s] our coach. He’s a brilliant offensive mind, took us to two national championships: once as a coordinator, once as a head coach. There’s a bunch of schools in this league that would love to be in our position with a guy like him.” — Jacobs in June 2016

If patience is a virtue, then Jay Jacobs is that gold-digger you heard about who’s on her third husband for the money and doesn’t really care what’s in the prenup.

Best thing Gus has going for him right now is that Bobby Lowder’s been forced out of the picture.

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Hoo, boy.

Blowing smoke, or it’s all just made up and flagellent?  You decide.

I can think of a number of defensive coordinators in his prior gig who might disagree with Gus’ assessment.

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“It’s the right thing to do.”

How do you know when a coach’s ass is on the hot seat?  When said coach knows his ass is on the hot seat.

The four Auburn players arrested for possession of marijuana in April — Byron Cowart, Carlton Davis, Ryan Davis and Jeremiah Dinson — won’t miss any playing time.

… “Those four young men made a mistake, we punished them and they won’t miss any time that’s behind us,” Malzahn said. “They are four fine young men. They made a mistake and I’m confident they won’t make it again.”

Malzahn said the decision had “zero” to do with the quality of his team’s week one opponent Clemson, and declined to elaborate why the punishment isn’t as severe as the one Nick Marshall received for a similar offense two years ago.

I wished he’d have said it was because Marshall was on his second chance.  In any event, what better time to bury the lede than the week Mullen, Freeze and Jones will face the brunt of the media’s scrutiny?

And how tight is Gus’ sphincter going to be if Clemson rolls in the opener?

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Crime and Punishment

One more thing about Auburn

It’s possible that I’m overrating Carl Lawson.

The SEC is loaded with top pass-rushing talent heading into the 2016 season — from Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett to Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, to Missouri’s Charles Harris, and not forgetting the formidable Alabama duo of Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson. Simply put, there isn’t another position within a conference in all of college football that is so loaded with talent.

That opening list doesn’t even do the conference justice, with several other talented players trying to crack the break into the top players at the position. One such player is Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson. It might come as a surprise to not see him quite mentioned with the best of the best when it comes to SEC pass rushers, but the truth is that Lawson isn’t quite there yet, and he must improve in a couple of ways if he is to challenge the likes of Garrett and Barnett.

As a pass rusher, he’s inconsistent.  He’s been injury prone, which hasn’t helped, but still,

… In three of the seven games he played in last season, Lawson was held to two pressures or fewer, being held in check by Texas A&M, Georgia and Idaho. His pass-rushing productivity rating was impressive in the season-opener and the bowl game, but his inconsistency saw the pass-rushers mentioned earlier (along with LSU’s Arden Key) all finish with better pass-rushing productivity ratings than him.

If last year’s Georgia offensive line was capable of holding you in check, then, yeah, you’ve still got some way to go before you’re a dominant pass rusher.

When it comes to run defense, Lawson doesn’t even merit being called inconsistent.

At +2.1, Lawson’s run defense grade isn’t a problem in the sense that he grades negatively in that aspect of his game, but when compared to the other top edge defenders in the conference, there is a pretty clear gap.

RunD

The really telling player name above Lawson is Alabama’s Tim Williams. A pass-rush specialist who played just 36 snaps against the run last year, he was able to make more of an impact against the run than Lawson who, despite injury, played 207 snaps against the run. Lawson made 10 tackles resulting in a defensive stop against the run, compared with five from Williams. The difference was Williams did it on almost a sixth of the run defense snaps.

So where does he struggle against the run? In a number of ways. Lawson is athletic enough to get the better of most of the offensive tackles he’ll face as a pass rusher, but can often get caught over-pursuing at times against the run. At other times he was overpowered by opposing offensive linemen, being shoved too far inside at times.

Tell me that last paragraph doesn’t sound like any number of players Rodney Garner coached at Georgia.

Health isn’t the only thing Lawson may need to overcome this season.

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Thursday morning buffet

A few nibbles here, a few there…

  • Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione admits the math isn’t there for Big 12 expansion.
  • Does somebody at Tennessee need to step up and commend Drae Bowles for coming forward?  (Note that is not the same question as will somebody at Tennessee step up.)
  • Ole Miss hasn’t sold out its ticket allotment for the opener against FSU.
  • Here’s you a handy summary of all the preseason mags.
  • Academics vs. the jocks at Cal-Berkeley, not a pretty story.
  • Buyer’s remorse at Auburn can come on very quickly, it seems.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Big 12 Football, College Football, Recruiting, SEC Football