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GAME DAY, Auburn at Arkansas

Hey everyone. I'm here at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, home of the Arkansas football team. It's sunny. Temperatures in the high 60s, I'd say. Glad I brought a jacket.

I'm flying solo tonight. With that in mind, and the fact that this is a late game, I won't have time to blog as thickly as usual tonight. Sorry about that.

Thanks for venturing forth to peep the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the net.

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

AUB -- 9
ARK -- 7

AU -- (1st, 8:28) Wes Byrum 22 FG
AU -- (4th, 10:11) Byrum 38 FG
UA -- (4th, 1:36) Lucas Miller 13 pass from Casey Dick (Alex Tejada kick)
AU -- (4th, 0:21) Byrum 20 FG

Final thoughts as I leave for Tulsa and a 6 a.m. flight: Pretty impressive win overall. People don't hold Arkansas to 67 rushing yards. It just doesn't happen. Muschamp said the key was going to be tackling. McFadden loves breaking tackles. He didn't break many tonight. Auburn got to the ball and stayed with it tonight.

Incredible work during that final Auburn drive. The Tigers play very well in that two-minute offense. Maybe they should run that more often. Cox seems like he's most efficient in those situations. I thought Ben Tate played his best game. He was running harder than anything I've seen from No. 44 before.

Now comes a trip to LSU. That'll be interesting to say the least. See you all on Sunday afternoon.

Third quarter: Looks like LT Ryan Pugh may have broken a bone in his left leg. Doctors put that left leg in an air cast and carted him off the field. Official word is that he suffered an ankle injury.

You want to talk about a performance? Auburn's defense has yielded 30 rushing yards so far. Thirty. Muschamp said it was all about making tackles. Auburn has. Arkansas can't thrive. These fans are not happy about this. If Auburn wins, and wins like this, Houston Nutt won't make it to 2008. Brandon Cox was knocked from the game because of a helmet-to-helmet hit, but returned a few minutes later.

Second quarter: Auburn is playing very well defensively. They're switching from that nickel look to a more standard 4-3 look, trading LB Craig Stevens and CB Jonathan Wilhite. Gaps are being plugged properly for the most part. I've only seen two missed tackles so far. Offensively, Auburn isn't executing crisply. It seems like the yards are there but little mistakes are undermining the overall effect. Auburn has to capitalize on the road. Home teams will get you in the fourth quarter.

First quarter:Tray Blackmon is out there. I didn't see much from him during the first series. As Muschamp promised, Evans still is out there. Auburn is running a nickel scheme where Blackmon and Evans are basically playing left and right. Merrill Johnson was on the kickoff return team, but hasn't played on defense yet.

Pregame: DE Quentin Groves, C Jason Bosley and LB Tray Blackmon are dressed out. Bosley started. Pugh, his backup, is at his usual right-tackle spot. if you're one of the two people here in Arkansas reading this, the Auburn Network's main board went down. That means there won't be a stadium broadcast tonight. That's why you can't find the frequency. Andy Burcham said things should be fine in time for the LSU game.

News of the day, 10/12

Hey everyone. I'm now on the ground in Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping across the plane. Bumpy flying yesterday considering I didn't see a single cloud until I arrived. I'm not a serene flyer, though I'm much better than Advertiser cohort Josh Moon.

Auburn is listed as a three-point dog at Arkansas. I expected that to be higher.

If you haven't been to a game at Arkansas, you're missing something. Auburn may have the biggest HD board in college sports, but the Hogs' board is an epic piece of equipment. I brought my camera. We'll play show-and-tell tomorrow.

Thanks for visiting the HOTTEST blog on the 'net.

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News of the day, 10/11

Hey everyone. I am on my way to Arkansas via Houston and Tulsa. I'm planning some Friday-night tailgating at the OU-Missouri game tomorrow. Several of my best friends are Oklahoma grads. They've been inviting me to their compound for years and the Arkansas-Auburn game afforded me the chance to take them up on it.

I'm extremely geeked.

So updates could be infrequent during the next two days. Or not. It depends on internet access, etc.

Nonetheless, big up for peeping the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net.

It's the only blog that loves you back.®

News of the day, 10/10

Hey everyone. Another busy day here at HABOTN headquarters, where we're preparing for the big trip to Arkansas this weekend. My peeps live in Tulsa, Okla. -- a two-hour drive from Fayetteville -- so my paper graciously agreed to fly me out on Thursday to help facilitate more family time. Why do you care? I had some business to handle today before leaving, so today's blog is being posted much later than usual.

We regret it. Blogging is our raison d'être, so please accept our apologies.

In Russia we'd say "spa-CEE-ba" for visiting the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net.

It's the only blog that loves you back.®

I've been getting a few emails and a comment or two regarding former Auburn linebacker Patrick Trahan, who left school during the summer because of academic problems. He could have stayed at Auburn, improved his grades and regained eligibility in the spring. He elected instead to attend a Mississippi junior college. I didn't understand that decision at the time. Now I do. Trahan, in essence, is a free agent now and is using that status to generate interest from several schools -- mostly notably Ole Miss. The caveat is that if Trahan wants to play somewhere other than Auburn, he must graduate from junior college first. If he wants to play at Auburn and his grades are back in the satisfactory range, he can enroll immediately. My guess is that he ends up at Auburn. If I'm an Auburn coach, though, I'm not very happy with the way Trahan has played this little game.

I thought it would be fun to take a gander at some SEC stats you probably haven't seen, which indicate patterns you probably didn't identify. Or care about.

Games using SEC replay: 45
Play stoppages: 61
Plays overturned: 16
Average time of review: 1 minute, 38 seconds.

Auburn has allowed 12 touchdowns this season. Only two teams have allowed fewer: LSU (7) and South Carolina (11). Vanderbilt also has allowed 12 touchdowns.

Auburn is averaging 5.1 plays per drive this season. Only one team, Arkansas (4.99), has a lower average. The leader is Kentucky at 5.73 plays/drive.

Auburn is averaging 26.03 yards per drive. That's the lowest among SEC teams. The leader is Florida at 39.66 yards per drive.

Auburn is basically the middle of the pack here, but this is a really interesting category to me. Here is a list of each team's fourth-quarter scoring margin:

LSU -- +47
Florida -- +41
Kentucky -- +40
So. Carolina -- +38
Georgia -- +31
Vanderbilt -- +29
Arkansas -- +26
Auburn -- +7
Tennessee -- +7
Miss. State -- (-3)
Alabama -- (-6)
Ole Miss -- (-35)

News of the day, 10/9

Hey everyone. Sounds like C Jason Bosley, OLB Merrill Johnson and S Aairon Savage won't be playing this weekend against Arkansas. That's the big news.

DE Quentin Groves and ILB Tray Blackmon practiced today. Not at full speed. Not for the whole time. They were out there, though, and that has coach Tommy Tuberville optimistic that they can help against the Razorbacks this weekend.

Check below for your weekly "Tuesdays with Tommy" synopsis.

We're ecstatic that you chose this, the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net, as part of your daily search for thoughtful news and analysis.

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Here is your weekly "Tuesdays with Tommy" featurette. The coach spends 30 minutes or so each Tuesday afternoon answering mostly inane questions from the media. I save you the time and provide a summary of the useful information, which is relayed exclusively in quote form.

*On the Vandy game: "The thing I liked the most is that we played together as a team. Everybody was pulling for each other."

*On Arkansas: "A couple of their players are as good as you'll see in college football."

*On Auburn's injured players at practice today: "Quentin Groves went about 50 percent. Same thing for Tray (Blackmon)."

*More on Groves and Blackmon's situation: "They went half speed 50 percent of the time."

*On the obvious: "We can't just depend on our defense."

*On 'team' in the philosphical sense: "YOu can only be as good as everybody is together. It's not just one guy."

*On injured C Jason Bosley: "He came out and walked around some. He's probably doubtful for Arkansas. Right now, he's struggling."

*On T King Dunlap:
"His fire is burning a little bit hotter. We he injured his arm, the intensity wasn't there. He played much better early in the year."

*On how late games affect the team on Sunday: "We try to wake them up on Sundays. We have contact. It's a grind. Florida wasn't bad because it was the first one. Now we have two (road games) in a row."

*On Arkansas TB Darren McFadden: "He can outrun everybody we've got on our team. All he needs is a little daylight and then you'll be chasing him from behind as we did last year."

*On family members requesting tickets for the Arkansas game: "They think I grow tickets on trees."

News of the day, 10/8

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Auburn-LSU will be carried on ESPN with an 8 p.m. kickoff.

Hey everyone. It's Arkansas time. You know what that means: Tommy Tuberville gets excited. He's an Arkansas native, may or may not have turned down the Arkansas job in 1997 and has taken several swipes at UA through the years. His allegedly stormy relationship with coach Houston Nutt is overrated, though.

Tuberville's father, C.R., was an influential high-school referee in Arkansas when Nutt's father was an influential high-school coach in Arkansas. So Tuberville knew the Nutts. I never got the feeling Tuberville loved or hated Houston Nutt. I've read some columns suggesting a rift -- and I love drama -- but I don't think that's accurate.

We are pleased that you'd break off a little piece of time to peruse the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net. It's the only blog that loves you back.

Our international reach continues to spread. The HABOTN took hits last week from Nicaragua and Ukraine. Welcome aboard.

I'll update defensive goals and production numbers around noon. I'm sure Chris Evans had a big day because he earned Defensive P.O.W. honors this week. Big money says Zac Etheridge was right there. Zac must have kicked a coach's dog or something to keep missing P.O.W. honors.

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

LB Chris Evans -- 28
FS Zac Etheridge -- 24
CB Pat Lee -- 19
S Eric Brock -- 19
DE Antonio Coleman -- 16
LB Craig Stevens -- 16
DE Mike Goggans -- 13
CB Ryan Williams -- 10
DT Zach Clayton -- 8
DE Sen'Derrick Marks -- 8
LB Josh Bynes -- 8
CB Jerraud Powers -- 5

Evans -- 116
Etheridge -- 110
Powers -- 106
Lee -- 101
Marks -- 100
Coleman -- 87
DE Quentin Groves -- 79

Etheridge -- 6
Lee, Brock, Coleman, Marks, Powers -- 5
Stevens, Evans -- 4
S Aairon Savage, Groves, Sims -- 3

Here are your team defensive goals for the AU-Vanderbilt game.

Win: YES, 35-7
Allow 13 pts or less: YES, 7
Allow 3.3 yards per carry or less: NO, 3.8
Allow 5.0 yards per pass or less: YES, 2.2
Create at least 3 turnovers: YES, 3
Allow no big plays (defined as 15+ rush or 20+ pass): NO on run (2); YES on pass (0)
Allow no TDs inside "red area": NO, 1
Force opponent to convert less than 30% on 3rd down: YES, 27%

Vanderbilt's YAC (yards after catch) number was 42.

Auburn's baseball recruiting class was ranked as the nation's fifth best today by Baseball America. The magazine said the group is marked by ``offensive firepower, which compares favorably with any class in the nation.”

The tri-county area is represented well in the class: outfielder Justin Jones (Stanhope Elmore), pitcher Cory Luckie (Prattville) and infielder Chezz McCann (Edgewood Academy).

News of the day, 10/7

Hey everyone. Pretty impressive performance from the Tigers this weekend. I know Vanderbilt isn't great, obviously, but that kind of efficiency would have made Auburn tough against any defense. I was particularly impressed with the offensive line. There was some serious domination happening up front. It's hard to believe three of these kids are 18 years old.

Defensive player of the game, for me, was S Zac Etheridge. He was all over the place. He's only 19, too. Auburn's recruiting efforts receive too much criticism. These last two classes have produced some excellent players. The 04 and 05 classes? Not so much. And don't give me the SACS stuff.

Offensive player of the game? Offensive line. Or Al Borges. Auburn's offensive coordinator assembled a really innovative series of plays yesterday. I don't really understand why that kind of innovation happens now. Why not a month ago? I'll try to get a better feel for that later today.

Tuberville talks with the media at 3. Players follow around 5. Look for updates as the day progresses. Sundays are loaded with information. I'll keep it flowing.

Thanks for huddling 'round the ol' campfire that is the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net.

Now for something you may not have been fully aware of: Do you know how many 100-yard games Brad Lester has to his credit? Ten? Five? Try zero. His best game was a 94-yard effort against Florida in 2006. How about that?

Lester said he really liked the throwback uniforms Auburn wore against Vanderbilt. The 1957 team was honored at halftime, so the Tigers wore modified duds to more closely mimic the '57 look. Lester said he and several other players approached Tuberville about keeping the throwback thing going. No dice. Tuberville squashed the idea immediately.

Linebackers coach James Willis was cryptic tonight when asked about getting LBs Tray Blackmon and Merrill Johnson back on the field. He said: ``That day will come very soon." Hmmm.

Your players of the week:

Offense: FB "Cartoon" Carl Stewart
Defense: LB Chris Evans
Special teams: S Mike McNeil
Defensive scouts: DB Wade Christopher
Offensive scouts: QB Jonathan Vickers

**I don't know what Zac Etheridge has to do to get some love. He was everywhere against Vanderbilt, and was doing that with an injured shoulder.

Pretty uneventful meeting with Tuberville. He said C Jason Bosley hasn't been fully examined yet. He missed the second half of Saturday's game because of what Tuberville said was a sprained knee. Tuberville also mentioned casually that T Lee Ziemba will be switching from the right to left side next season. I found that mildly interesting. Also, Tuberville said the coaching staff was prepared to use another true freshman, WR Quindarius Carr, during the weekend. Ultimately, they didn't need him.

Here are the true freshmen currently playing:
S Mike McNeil
DE Antoine Carter
QB Kodi Burns
OL Lee Ziemba
OL Chaz Ramsey
OL Ryan Pugh
WR Chris Slaughter
K Wes Byrum
CB Ryan Williams
LB Josh Bynes
LB Bo Harris
P Patrick Tatum

TBA: DE/LB Brent Slusher. May or may not be eligible for a redshirt.

Here are the redshirt freshmen currently playing:
TB Mario Fannin
OL Big Snacks Berry
S Zac Etheridge
LB Craig Stevens
P Ryan Shoemaker
DE Mike Goggans
OL Byron Isom
WR Tim Hawthorne
DT Mike Blanc
DT Zach Clayton
OL Bart Eddins

That's a lot of young guys.

Here is my AP top 25 poll for the week. Made a big adjustment on Boston College, which I ranked No. 20 last week. Too low. Oregon is pretty high for a one-loss team, but the loss was to Cal and it was mighty close.

1. LSU
2. Cal
3. Ohio State
4. South Florida
5. Oregon
6. Missouri
7. South Carolina
8. Boston College
9. West Virginia
10. Oklahoma
11. Southern Cal
12. Virginia Tech
13. Wisconsin
14. Kentucky
15. Florida
16. Arizona State
17. Hawaii
18. Cincinnati
19. Auburn
20. Kansas
21. Illinois
22. Georgia
23. Florida State
24. Texas A&M
25. Virginia


22. Purdue
19. Texas
23. Kansas State
21. UCLA
24. Michigan State

Did anyone notice Texas A&M's win against Oklahoma State last night? The Aggies are 5-1. I voted them in my top 25. And they're going to run Dennis Franchione? Seriously?

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