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9.10.2008

The Tray Blackmon non-dilemma

Hey everyone. I penned a little story today about how Joshua Bynes has been playing "as many or more" snaps than heralded linebacker Tray Blackmon so far this season.

Coach Tommy Tuberville said it's an endurance thing; that Blackmon can't possibly play 70 snaps at middle linebacker and handle special-teams duties ... all in the same day.

Defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads said it's a fluke.

I think they're both correct in certain ways. Blackmon always has been weakest when asked to play the pass. Though he's a ferocious hitter and a fearless player, Blackmon's skill set doesn't dovetail flawlessly with Rhoads' philosophical inclinations.

Rhoads prefers to use linebackers in passing situations, which doesn't exactly play into Blackmon's strengths. That's a big reason why you see Bynes playing so often; he's a better cover guy.

Will this change? Not sure. We know Blackmon is a big-time hitter who can change games with what I'll call a "spectacle collision." We also know that coaches had no need to increase injury risk for games against Monroe and Southern Miss.

Still, Blackmon made his reputation in high school as a pass-rushing force. If Bynes keeps progressing at this rate -- refining himself as a full-featured middle linebacker -- I don't see how Blackmon's role is going to expand.

Blackmon's weakness isn't going away.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at jgtate@gannett.com.

30 Comments:

Anonymous WarEagleRK said...

Can Blackmon move to the WLB as a pass rusher? I know he's too small to be a DE. That would take him out of coverage and still allow him to take on RB's and QB's.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

That's a great idea.

The problem is that WLBs have pretty extensive pass-coverage responsibilities as well.

In a perfect world, Tray is 6-3 230 and he's playing SLB.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous WarEagleRK said...

Wouldn't SLB put him in coverage on the TE most of the time or am I confused?

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've erased the DVR recording of the USM game so I can't review, but I wonder if there is a pattern to those USM TE catches in the middle. Did they occur more often when Tray or Josh was in there OR am I reaching here. (I realize that I'm at risk looking silly asking this.)

10:28 AM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

I wasn't charting that closely.

If Tray was 6-3 230, being on the TE wouldn't be a major issue.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous WarEagleRK said...

Gotcha.

What did Tray come onto campus weighing? 190?

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tray is the most over-hyped player in the history of Auburn Football.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous hip-hopanonymous said...

I dont think he's overhyped. He just has a very particular skillset that hasnt been needed in the firt two games.

I'm no expert by any means but he seems to be a run stopper who can get sideline to sideline quicker than most, and can lay a serious lick when he gets there. He is a "see ball, hit ball" type of player for lack of a better term.

The two teams we've played so far run versions of the spread that render run stoppers kind of useless.

I think he's a rare talent that has huge upside as well as some serious downside.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous WarEagleRK said...

Most over-hyped?

Were you not around for Allen Tillman, Lectron Williams or Demontray Carter?

12:07 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

I'm with hip-hop.

Blackmon is great at what he does. He's a hitter. He was born to hit. He wasn't born to drop back into pass coverage.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous WarEagleRK said...

I'm guessing he gets a ton of playing time this week with Miss State primarily a running team.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I shouldnt have said "over-hyped". I just haven't seen him do much in games outside Fla 2006.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

I'm working on a new video. I'll include Joshua Bynes.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you talked to Eric Smith, JGT? I met him in a class this summer and he's very fun to talk to.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

I have spoken with him a few times. Nice young man. He looks like a mix between Rudi Johnson and Carl Stewart. That's a useful guy right there.

He had a pretty poor game against USM: fumble and penalty on Robert Dunn's should-have-been punt return TD.

Tough.

3:02 PM  
Blogger ron mexico said...

Tray Blackmon will be more useful against the traditional offense that run the ball, but he definately is overhyped.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, he made some "young" mistakes, but I like his skill set for sure.

He says he wants to work at ESPN when he's finished playing.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous aubigcat said...

Wow Jay... lectron Williams??? You have been around a while. Tron came in with me in 1989.

Blackmon overhyped??? No way. Name one player you would rather have a RB meet once he gets past the front 4??

4:33 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

I wouldn't say he's overhyped now.

It seems like expectations these days are in line with reality. When he arrived in 2005, I was expecting Ray Lewis based on the hype. Weren't you?

5:11 PM  
Blogger ron mexico said...

He was preseason second team all-sec. He is about to be second team on his own team. That second team selection is based on two or three good hits in college and a high school highlight tape. I'm sticking with overhyped.

Don't get me wrong I hope he lives up to the hype. He has plenty of time to do so.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Phormerly Phred said...

I have decided to legally change my name to One Two Three.

Chad Johnson is a complete idiot. He and Vince Young should start a club.

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Crudup said...

Wow. You guys have created a story out of nothing on Blackmon. We haven't even played anybody yet. Patience.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Phormerly Phred said...

Dude, we've been doing that for eight months.

Are you going to change your name to a number like Chad Johnson? I think you should do it. This could be a hot trend.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Phormerly Phred said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Phormerly Phred said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:57 AM  
Blogger Phormerly Phred said...

Starting over ...

For those of you who don't know: Chad Johnson, WR for Cincinnati, has legally changed his name to Ocho Cinco. Yes that's right. He is now Mr. 85.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Phormerly Phred said...

Actually, it's even more stupid than that. Ochenta y Cinco is 85. He's Ocho Cinco which is 8-5. I wonder if he knows that? Probably not.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Brent Lane said...

Did you hear Shaun Alexander's recent comment? In an article about his prospects for signing on with a new team, he said he'd been talking to the Bengals, but he said they wouldn't sign him unless he changed his name to Tres Siete. . .

He's a funny guy. . .guess you'd have to have a good sense of humor if your college HC was DuBose. . .

9:07 AM  
Blogger AUnMobile said...

Jay,
Remember i said it first here the i am the President of the Josh Bynes Fan Club.... i saw this kid coming on and but the middle of the year he will play more at MLB than Tray if he stays healthy....mark my words....

9:33 AM  
Anonymous crudup said...

I've been talking up Bynes since fall camp myself. He has the best collection of talents of all the LBs. However, Merrill Johnson right now is the most productive one.

1:31 PM  

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