Sponsored by:

GAME DAY, Auburn at Florida

Hey everyone. Made it to Gainesville. It's sunny and 82 for now. Forecast calls for 30% chance of showers during the late afternoon and evening hours. Probably won't affect things on the field.

We landed a posh hotel room at the Spring Hill Suites, which appears to be brand new. I made these reservations in DECEMBER to avoid spending two nights at the Motel 6 or lying beside Lake Alice. That can be a dangerous proposition with gators lying around and all.

I'm planning to hit Florida Field around 5-ish, though traffic may change those plans. Check back this afternoon for updates. Since this is a deadline game, I won't be able to blog as often as I'd like tonight. Still, you can count on my usual genre of brilliant and elegantly described insights as the game progresses.

We can only hope you're here because this is the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net and you crave this kind of heat.

--------GAME COVERAGE--------

AUB -- 20
FLA -- 17

Recap: Wow. Never saw this coming. Wes Byrum hits two game-winning field goals. What a bizarre ending. It could be bittersweet in a way because DE Quentin Groves, preliminary tests show, could be out a while. He apparently suffered two dislocated toes, which apparently will keep him out of action for a while. I can't get any reliable information on Tristan Davis' injury.

The offense was outstanding overall. The line provided a lot of push. Brandon Cox was his old self, hitting 17 of 26 passes for 227 yards. No picks. He made a lot of good decisions tonight. The wideouts were open, which was a coaching thing. The wideouts caught the ball, which was a wideout thing. Ben Tate ran harder than I've ever seen from him. Mario Fannin didn't lose a fumble.

The defense was even better. Lots of twists and stunts and slants up front. Auburn was "guessing" correctly for most of the night. I think DC Will Muschamp discovered some tendencies while researching the Gators. Auburn seemed to fit UF's fronts all night. I thought Jerraud Powers and Aairon Savage had outstanding games. I also liked the stuff Antoine Carter did during his limited time on the field. He'll be playing a lot more in Groves' absence.

Tuberville said afterward that Auburn is "back in the race." I can't disagree. Let's see if this is the real Auburn ... or if the real Auburn is what we saw before.

Middle third quarter: Auburn scored a field goal mid-way through the third quarter. This drive was just as impressive as that first one. The surge along the offensive front is outstanding. Mario Fannin was working efficiently behind that line. I'm tellin' ya -- Florida's offense is going to start feeling the need to press.

Middle second quarter: It's difficult to believe this is the same team I watched earlier this month. This team is ready to ball. I had a feeling Auburn was going to be pretty good today. I had no idea it would be like this. Brandon Cox looks better than I've ever seen. No turnovers. Everything is working in concert. I cannot overstate what effect Ryan Pugh and Chaz Ramsey have on this team. It sent a clear message from the coaches to players that experience takes a back seat to enthusiasm.

First quarter ends: Really nice effort by Auburn all around. The offense is doing what I expected -- working to control the ball with running and short passes. That scoring drive lasted 7:32. Pretty incredible. Auburn's defense is playing well and remains quite rested. Tackling is going to be the Tigers' key going forward. They've been outstanding in that way so far. Keeping Florida's offense off the field is critical. Those players are not used to watching the game so much.

Auburn's first possession: How about that? What a nutty drive. That's the best I've seen Auburn's offense look in a long time. All made possible by a "running into the kicker" penalty early in the drive, which punter Ryan Shoemaker really sold.

Tristan Davis update: Tristan is out there returning the opening kickoff. I'm impressed. Talk about a quick improvement.

Radio frequency: If you're in the stadium and reading this for some weird reason, the AU Network broadcast is at 96.3 FM. Great atmosphere here, as expected. Lots of fans. Lots of energy. The press box shakes when these fans clap loudly. Scary in a way.

News of the day, 9/28

Hey everyone. You know how Fridays go. The team is headed toward Gainesville (to Ocala, actually) and will hold a short walkthrough this afternoon. Not much going on. I'm headed down through Albany and Valdosta, so wave if you see me and trusty columnist Josh Moon rolling in our sweet rental car. It's the only time of year I drive a Pontiac. You know what I mean?

I like getting chili at the Longhorn in Tifton, Ga. This trip makes that possible.

We are gracious that you chose this, the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net, as one of your destinations for fresh AU information.

One of the HOTTIES, Scottie B. from Tennessee, attended the Tennessee JV vs. Hargrave game last night. Auburn commitment/re-signee Enrique Davis didn't play, presumably because of injury. Neither did DT Tim Lamb, who also signed with Auburn last season. The third Auburn/Hargrave connection, OL Jermaine Johnson, started and played most of the game.

I saw this AOL fan blog yesterday, which tried to rip Pat Sims for some wild Tim Tebow prognostications. I was two feet from Sims as this interview progressed. He wasn't promising to hurt Tebow. He never said that. Nobody wrote that. Sims is a pretty intense player, no doubt, but he was just messin' around during a question about Ole Miss' inability to stop Tebow. Why does everything everybody says have to be some incendiary reference? Also, Sims is a pretty cold-blooded dude. I think he backs up a good percentage of the legitimate trash he talks. FanBoy might think Sims is worth a "[yawn]." I doubt Florida feels the same way.

News of the day, 9/27

Hey everyone. I did a radio show yesterday from Auburn. The hosts asked me about Blake Field, which was an interesting topic. An unusual situation, for sure. Blake went into the season as the No. 2 guy. Then he was leapfrogged by Kodi Burns because, as Tuberville said, "Blake is a lot like Brandon." Poor Blake. I think he's a pretty good player who could contribute somewhere but now he's a junior. He doesn't have a redshirt season left.

His choices are: Ride this Auburn career out on the bench or transfer to a I-AA school that's seeking a one-year guy. Tough situation. That's like living at home with your ex and her new husband. Even Ricky Bobby couldn't do that.

You know it's tough. Blake was a fairly big recruit back in the day, so his career could have gone in many different directions.

We savor every minute you spend with us here at the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net.

Here's something you won't see very often in this space. I was watching footage from the AU-MSU game the other day. RT Lee Ziemba was flagged for a 15-yard facemask penalty on Auburn's first play. Footage clearly showed Ziemba immediately diving to his left for a cut block. His hands were on the ground. RG Mike Berry's neck snapped around a moment later. It was Berry's facemask that had been grabbed. Penalty somehow goes against Auburn. First-and-22. Brandon Cox throws to Cole Bennett, ball deflects to Derek Pegues, MSU scores on a short interception return. There are times when Auburn coaches surely look at this stuff and can't help but feel cursed.

What has happened to Tommy Trott? He played a very limited role against New Mexico State. He built a reputation early in his career for being sure-handed. Some coaches even thought he'd make a good slot receiver. Now Trott's penchant for dropped pass has him almost out of the playing rotation at tight end. First came Brandon's weird struggles. Then King Dunlap stopped blocking. Now Tommy Trott can't catch. That's a trifecta that would have paid well in the preseason. Surely Trott will get it back. I'm more sold on him than I am King and Brandon.

Here are your top defensive producers from the New Mexico State game. Players are given points for doing significant things correctly. They are docked points for missing assignments, missing tackles, penalties or loafing:

CB Jerraud Powers -- 27
SS Zac Etheridge -- 26
DE Sen'Derrick Marks -- 20
CB Pat Lee -- 17
DE Courtney Harden -- 16
SS/LB Eric Brock -- 13

**I didn't get the season-to-date tally.

Here are your team defensive goals for the AU-NMSU game. I forgot to post this earlier in the week:

Win: YES, 55-20
Allow 13 pts or less: NO, 20
Allow 3.3 yards per carry or less: YES, 3.3
Allow 5.0 yards per pass or less: NO, 5.69
Create at least 3 turnovers: YES, 6
Allow no big plays (defined as 15+ rush or 20+ pass): YES on run (0); NO on pass (4)
Allow no TDs inside "red area": YES
Force opponent to convert less than 30% on 3rd down: NO, 47%

Also, NMSU's YAC (yards after catch) number was 51

Tonight is the season premiere of "The Office," which is a popular show around H.A.B.O.T.N. headquarters. If you'll notice, I have taken this opportunity to get the effervescent Jenna Fischer on the blog. It's a big day. I have asked her people if she's willing to stop by and talk Auburn football one of these days. No word yet. She seems like a Tristan Davis fan. I'm just basing that on anecdotal evidence gleaned from our sources in Hollywood.

The show kicks off at 8 p.m. CDT.

News of the day, 9/26

Hey everyone. It's rare that I give opinion about how Auburn will do in an upcoming game because, really, I have no idea most of the time. I'm not around the kids enough. Protocol is being broken here. I get the sense that Auburn is going to play pretty well in Gainesville.

Will Auburn win? Probably not. All I'm saying is: I expect to be surprised by the Tigers' competence this weekend. I get the sense that Hugh Nall's decision to boot King Dunlap and Mike Berry from the starting lineup in favor of two (good) 18-year-olds has sparked a pretty emotional reaction. The team seems truly motivated for the first time in a while.

I am gracious for all the HOTTIES who keep making the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net such a happy place. Big up.

I'm definitely not calling anyone a liar, but I'd be careful with those Tristan Davis predictions. Tuberville said Tuesday that Davis could be back soon. Maybe he's a fast healer. I talked with Tristan after the New Mexico State game and he was less optimistic than expected about how his toe is coming along. He tried to jog off the field but ended up looking like an old lady with all the hobbling. He's nowhere near 100 percent. I think it'll take him another three weeks to re-emerge as a useful option.

I asked around about Montez Billings being moved into the top spot at flanker. That struck me as odd. The thought there is that Billings, unlike many of his fellow wideouts, hasn't made mistakes yet. He hasn't made plays, either. The staff really wants to get Chris Slaughter on the field. He catches the ball. The problem is that he's having to shed some bad route-running habits. He also lacks a firm grasp of the offense. The staff is testing him daily in an effort to boost his overall awareness and aptitiude. Slaughter spent his high-school and prep-school days just going out there and ballin'. That doesn't work in college. Not with this coaching staff.

I snagged my copy of Halo 3. Great game. I'm concerned about the 12-year-olds are going to affect the Live community. Annoying. TE Cole Bennett already is half-way through the game. It's been out for less than 48 hours.

Also, I snagged the new album off iTunes. Absolutely dreamy and great. My favorite track is "The Donque Song," which is destined to be an iPod staple for yours truly. As an added bonus, Snoop Dogg lifts things during the last two minutes.

The album sounds a lot like Black Eyed Peas, which makes sense since is the brains behind that operation.

News of the day, 9/25

Hey everyone. Pretty boring day so far. Several players attended the media gathering this morning, but there wasn't much news. Eric Brock said he's basically playing a newly created position these days. It's part linebacker, part safety, part dime back. I'm planning to write more about that for tomorrow's paper.

Chris Evans and Mike McNeil, whose health was in question on Sunday, participated fully in Auburn's practice this morning. They're both ready to go against Florida.

Quentin Groves
said today that he's been playing "like poop," which made me laugh. Where do you go from there? He said the sack record (he's one short) has been affecting the way he plays. I'll write more about that, too.

Your weekly "Tuesdays with Tommy" update will be posted around 1:45. Check back then.

Thanks for choosing to peruse the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net, which loves you and nurtures you in ways only a mother knows. This blog, for the record, is genderless. Or non-gendered. Or whatever.

Some depth-chart surprises:

*Montez Billings is at No. 1 flanker now.
*The three freshmen -- Ryan Pugh (LT), Chaz Ramsey (RG) and Lee Ziemba (RT) -- have held their jobs so far. They're all listed at No. 1. Assistant coach Hugh Nall seems pretty enthusiastic about sticking with this group.
*Mike Berry, who had been at RG, now is a backup at C.
*Montgomery's Bart Eddins now is listed as Ramsey's backup.
*Brandon Cox and Kodi Burns are listed as co-starters despite Tuberville's assertion that Cox is the starter. Keep in mind that the best way to slow Florida's offense is to keep it off the field. A gradual rushing attack does that.

Here are your "Tuesdays with Tommy" nuggets -- with a BRANDON COX BONUS section. There were a couple comments that made me laugh. Can you guess which ones?

*On the team: "After last week's game, we've got some momentum."

*On the offense: "We're not great on offense right now. All you have to do is look at the SEC stats to see that."

*On the two quarterbacks: "We're trying to work out a system for both of them."

*On Merrill Johnson: "Merrill is out."

*On Tristan Davis, who practiced this morning: "Tristan's back. He's not 100 percent. Looks like he gained a little weight. Looks like he's been eating Christmas dinner."

*On Florida: "They haven't changed a lot in what they're doing."

*On last year's game against Florida: "Our fans won that game for us last year."

*On Tristan's availability: "I'm going to give him one more day. He's not in great shape. You can't do a lot when you're on crutches."

*On ousted linemen King Dunlap and Mike Berry: "They have to earn their spots back. We're not just starting (Ryan Pugh and Chaz Ramsey) because they're true freshmen."

*On playing at Florida: "If you make a mistake, there's no bench that you can go hide under. You're not just playing the team -- you're playing the whole stadium."

*On Brandon Cox: "He's been good against big teams."

*On Kodi Burns:
"Since we've taken the redshirt off of him, we're going to play him."

*BRANDON COX on what he learned from watching Kodi play:
"That's not the offense I run."

*BRANDON COX on playing at Florida: "It's an awakening. You can't really prepare for it."

News of the day, 9/24

Hey everyone. I rose early this morning eager to watch my DVRd Foo Fighters concert from HDNet's Sunday afteroon lineup. Dave and the boys were outstanding as expected. It's all acoustic. If you're a Fooey, it's must-see TV.

Mondays generally are pretty slow. I'll take care of you, though, with some carefully timed updates through the day. There are a lot of interesting little things happening with the team right now. Tons.

Thanks to all the HOTTIES who gather 'round this fine publication, the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net, simply for the warmth it provides.

Auburn's Oct. 6 game against Vanderbilt will be televised by Lincoln Financial Sports. You know what that means: Another 11:30 a.m. kickoff. That's what everyone wanted, I'm sure.

You know who's moving up my list of "Most Intriguing Auburn Player" list? It's the fella immortalized by photographer David Bundy above. Pat Sims. He's playing with that fire coaches have been seeking for years. He plays at a high level almost all the time, which is why I think he'll be an all-conference player at season's end. Good players come and go, you know, but Sims is one that will stick out long after he's gone. He quit football in 2004. His sister's death nearly wrecked him. It took a long time, but Sims has emerged this season. He also is a master of dry-wit humor. He and Jae Wilhite.

I often end interviews by asking players if they have anything else to discuss. It gives them a forum. Sims always greets that with: "It's your job to ask questions." Makes me laugh every time.

It sounds like top punter Ryan Shoemaker is ready to roll. He suffered a dislocated elbow during the South Florida game and missed the Mississippi State game as well. He attempted Auburn's final punt of the New Mexico State game. It went for 62 yards. Eddie Gran said Shoemaker will be the starter against Florida. Still, Gran noted that he's exploring the idea of letting Patrick Tatum -- who punted well in Shoemaker's absence -- handle finesse kicks. That's an interesting idea.

On a personal note: I geeked out today and pre-ordered two copies of Halo 3 -- one for me and one for my homeboy -- at my local video retailer. I enjoyed the puzzled look I received from esteemed Huntsville Times scribe Phillip Marshall after asking him about Halo 3 on Sunday. At 55 years old (give or take), he's apparently not a big XBox player. Anyway, I'm going to snatch my copies at 8 a.m. Tuesday. The store will be open at midnight. I can't stay up that late anymore.

Several Auburn players are similarly geeked. I know CB Pat Lee and TE Cole Bennett are planning to pick up copies on Tuesday for most-of-the-day playing. Both of those guys already have graduated. As Pat Sims so eloquently noted on Sunday: "They don't have anything else to do but play football and video games."

Quentin Groves
also plays a lot of XBox 360. He's on a Rainbow Six: Vegas kick right now.

News of the day, 9/23

Hey everyone. I'm getting a late start after getting home at 1:15 this morning. The good news is that traffic wasn't an issue by the time I left Jordan-Hare. Nary a peep around the stadium. I guess New Mexico State isn't the BCS power it used to be.

I'll have plenty of updates this afternoon after, say, 4:30. So check back then for some fresh information. I took some time after last night's game to assess the team in general. You can find that assessment on my Saturday blog entry below.

Until I return, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

Thanks for stopping by to peep the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net.

The Auburn-Florida game fell to ESPN (CBS picked first and took Alabama-FSU) so the Tigers will kickoff at 7 p.m. CDT in Gainesville this weekend.

Tuberville said moments ago that S Mike McNeil and LB Chris Evans will be undergoing MRI exams shortly to diagnose knee injuries. Both were hurt last night. Apparently S Eric Brock was moved to linebacker in some situations last night (I thought he simply was in a different alignment) and will stay there for the time being. OLB Merrill Johnson (shoulder) still is out.

UPDATE: DC Will Muschamp said Evans is fine. I saw Evans and he didn't seem injured. Had a minimally invasive wrap on his right knee. Coaches were worried that McNeil had injured his meniscus. MRI showed otherwise. Muschamp didn't seem worried.

QB Brandon Cox will start the Florida game. I'll let you Cox haters make your feelings known in the comments section below. When playing non-panicky football, Cox gives Auburn its best chance to win. Period.

Just to give you a glimpse into what writers have to deal with: WR coach Greg Knox, whom I have grown to like over a period of nine years, said we were "dwelling on the negatives" today when asking about the Saturday drops. They officially dropped three passes. There were 24 passes attempted. At least three of those were thrown away. So receivers dropped three out of approximately 18 legitimate passes. That's not being negative. That's just being real.

follow me on Twitter

Phormerly Phred
Scottie B. in Tennessee
Ron Mexico
Scott from Tucson

Peter Frankenschmidt
Mr. Sensible

FakeSteveJobs (aka FSJ)
Steve from Columbia (aka SteveFC)

AUFan365 was Larry Bailey, 1948-2010

D. Miller
Dear Leader
mytommyd (is supposed to be mrtommyd)
Scott Chocolate
chip chip
Loganville Tiger
JD the Biscuitator

Cousin Humpers = Bammers (aka CH=B)
dan dan the AU fan
Jay 'W. not Tate'
Craig Miller
Comm'r of Flesh Wounds
Jason Crawford
Lowcountry Tiger

MrsFrontRim & FrontRim


Jay_G (an impostor)

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]