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10.10.2008

Examining the matchup

Hey everyone. Fun night at the fair for me and the gals. I'll say this: I cannot ride the same rides as before. The Himalaya-type rides (fast and in a circle) really mess me up now. It takes me 5 minutes to get my senses back to normal.

Yet this kind of stuff lures me to Cincinnati every year:



Anyway, let's get to some Auburn-Arkansas chatter:

POSITION BY POSITION:
QUARTERBACK
Advantage: Arkansas
Casey Dick isn't exactly a major-league player, but he has a grasp of the offense and an arm with some power. Auburn? Doesn't have a guy like that. That's 0-for-2 if you're scoring at home.

RUNNING BACKS
Advantage: Arkansas
Michael Smith leads the SEC in all-purpose yards because he's a very good runner and a very good receiver. Ben Tate brings the noise each week. Smith brings that and the lightning, too.

RECEIVERS
Advantage: Arkansas
Neither team has a wealth of talent here. Tommy Trott is a good player, but doesn't get many chances. Arkansas has two good ones in wideout Joe Adams and tight end D.J. Williams.

OFFENSIVE LINE
Advantage: Auburn
It's clear that blocking out of a two-point stance hasn't been easy for the Tigers this season. They made plenty of mistakes last week. Still, Arkansas' line has been really poor so far. Auburn's group has been better than that.

DEFENSIVE LINE
Advantage: Auburn
Even with Sen'Derrick Marks out because of injury, Auburn's defense front played well last week. Tez Doolittle and Zach Clayton have been productive of late, adding punch to a group that didn't need much more.

LINEBACKERS

Advantage: Auburn
No big names. Lots of big-time production. Merrill Johnson played the best game of his career last week and Joshua Bynes has been excellent in the middle. The Tigers are loaded.

DEFENSIVE BACKS
Advantage: Auburn
Cornerback Jerraud Powers probably play this week, but that doesn't affect Auburn's allure relative to Arkansas'. Walt McFadden and Zac Etheridge are steady. Even Mike McNeil made some big plays last week.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Advantage: Auburn
Who knows? Neither team is kicking well. Both teams are punting well. Return games are a wash. I'll give Auburn the check based on the fact that Byrum can't really be this bad. Right?

COACHING
Advantage: Auburn
Bob Petrino was wildly successful at Louisville, but his value hasn't been as obvious in the NFL and at Arkansas. My guess is that Petrino will engineer major improvement. Tuberville has been at a pretty high level for a while, though the coach's personnel decisions could use some sharpening.


SCOUTING REPORTS:
  • Arkansas TB Michael Smith (No. 21)
    5-7, 175, Jr.
    Last week: 20 carries for 133 yards, 6 catches for 43 yards, 1 TD (vs. Florida)
    Scouting report: Skill-position guys don't come much tougher than Smith, who rarely takes breaks from Arkansas possessions. He's very fast -- coaches timed Smith at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash two years ago -- and has excellent hands. Smith has a good feel for the passing game. His weakness is probably what makes him so good: Size. Smith is small and doesn't look imposing. It's obvious that he's worked hard to refine other aspects of his game to overcome the genetic dispositions. He's also an honor roll student. If he was 5-11, Smith would be a major NFL Draft property.

  • Auburn WR Chris Slaughter (No. 23)
    6-4, 179, Soph.
    Last week: 1 catch for 7 yards (vs. Vanderbilt)
    Scouting report: Slaughter was a major prospect from the 2005 high-school class who spent a year in prep school before enrolling at Auburn last season. He has a reputation for being a slacker, which he acknowledged recently. That's the first time Slaughter has described himself as such, which may preface a change in performance. He always has had some excellent tools: Average speed, good leaping ability, good feel for one-on-one matchups. The downside is that he still runs incorrect routes. If he begins taking pride in pre-game preparation, Slaughter could emerge as the go-to presence Auburn desperately needs.

  • Auburn DL Zach Clayton (No. 98)
    6-3, 290, Soph.
    Last week: 4 tackles including 2 for loss (vs. Vanderbilt)
    Scouting report: Clayton was a nearly unknown prospect out of high school. He now is the team's most versatile defender. Clayton split time at tackle and end last week -- a very taxing mental challenge -- and impressed coaches with consistent productivity. Clayton isn't the most skilled player around, but he brings unusual fervor to the field. He has learned to use his hands to his advantage this season and has no problem getting nasty with players of all sizes. He's quiet on the field; it's all business.


KEYS TO THE GAME:

  • Auburn offense
    Arkansas' run defense is poor. Very poor. The team's last three major-conference opponents (Florida, Texas and Alabama) have racked up 814 rushing yards against this front. Auburn will be tempted to use those Ace formations and send tailback Ben Tate between the tackles ad naseum. Is that the plan? Who knows. One thing we know -- Auburn hasn't had much installation time since Tony Franklin's departure Wednesday afternoon. After all that talk from Franklin about how Auburn's offense needed to be dumbed down for three consecutive weeks, it's unlikely this staff will be adding complexity over such a short period of time. Expect what you saw during the first half against Vanderbilt. Running should be the theme.

  • Auburn defense
    The Tigers have put together several thorough performances against SEC teams this season. Last week was no exception. Conceding 14 points to Vanderbilt in Nashville is not a problem. This week should be easier. Arkansas is the least refined opponent Auburn has faced this season. Bobby Petrino's team allows more sacks than any other SEC team and has struggled with turnovers lately. The key player is Michael Smith, who is a very talented back. Auburn must hold its wide positions to funnel Smith toward the middle. If he gets the corner, he's dangerous. Quarterback Casey Dick has been there a while. He's still only average. He prefers short passes. He doesn't take many risks. Smith is the only thing working for Arkansas right now. Auburn's defense is particularly good against the run.

64 Comments:

Anonymous Crudups said...

Extremely interesting pick of Slaughter in the scouting report. My head's slightly tilted to the side, eyebrows raised, lips in the 'hmmm' pose. Curious selection. A little diversity, which I like.

I expect plenty of Billings, Smith, and Trott from the receivers. My wish is to see plenty Slaughter, Zachary, and Carr - the real athletes. I've already counted Swinton out.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Diversity is the key.

You already know plenty about The Usual Suspects.

9:36 AM  
Blogger AUnMobile said...

Jay,
This should be a game that features a lot of running to get the offense going then throws that are safe to get the QB in a nice rhythm.
Your guess who starts at QB?

9:37 AM  
Blogger AUnMobile said...

Jay,
BTW did you know Neal was on the same show with the two chics yesterday that you were on here in Mobile?

9:38 AM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

I predict Christopher Todd at quarterback to open the game.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

re: Neal. Someone mentioned that about Neal. That's good to hear. He has a whole lot of radio talent and I always thought the two of us would make for some outstanding radio.

It just never came together.

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Crudup said...

Jay, I'm a tad bit pumped about seeing the offense believe it or not. It could be a total disaster, but that's expected and I've become comfortable with that unfortunately. It's gotten down to the "at least I don't have to be tricked into thinking they're good" mode.

Ensminger, as much as I've slighted him, may have learned a few things over the years. And I don't buy into the colorful stories about his experience and how he should have never tried to run Bobby's offense. At the same time, the one glaring problem is that or QB play won't help anybody unless Kodi dramatically improves or they can totally use Todd to control a game. Doubtful.

Campbell had a huge arm and Ensminger let it rip finally vs. Bama in '03.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

ps: I'm going to spend some quality time with the Arc Trainer for an hour or two.

Talk with you later this morning.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Crudup said...

I understand why now there is a 'Two Chicks' show on AM in Spanish Fort. Because WNSP totally sucks! And someone finally did something about it.

9:41 AM  
Blogger AUnMobile said...

I agree,
I am now glad i have a choice to listen to another station in Mobile for sports now in lieu of WN (all about U of Alabama)SP!
they have really gone downhill!!

9:42 AM  
Blogger scottie b in tennessee said...

2 hrs on the arc trainer? stay hydrated bubba. a much better man than i.

9:43 AM  
Blogger AUnMobile said...

Crudup,
its also on FM 105.9 in Mobile!
YEAH, finally a rival adn we do have a choice to combat "Harp n Greenwood" GEEZE!

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Crudup said...

What time is the broadcast, AUN? H & G really are lame aren't they? I mean, they do a radio slow and don't allow rumor or speculation? Such an agenda!. It's sick.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Alan said...

I want more Zachary and Carr. Please give them to me Steve.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Since McCready's departure, I have only listened to WNSP for about a total of three hours. When I would tune into Sports Drive for a couple of minutes, it was painfully bad.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jay- My Chemical Romance, Rage Against the Machine, BRUCE HORNSBY...something doesn't add up here. Hornsby is a far better listen than those other two acts. Check out some Grateful Dead circa early nineties where Hornsby toured with them. Good stuff.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Will Crudupz said...

alan, you complete me.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous weagle251 said...

Jay & Neal would've been pure radio goodness. Ever thought of a podcast? As if you don't have enough on your plate...

10:26 AM  
Anonymous dnatl said...

Jay:

I don't know about that inverted vekoma boomerang - vekoma rides are rough on your head and neck.

By the way, if you are in the market for a giant one (fka "Deja Vu" at Six Flags), they are available on the re-sell market. Check out this link.

http://irmpri.com/product.htm

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My radio partner Al has a good name for the "new" AU offense:

Duck Hunt...
since that's what lead to all this


Pretty good, I think.

SHOW STUFF - Live Sat. @ 9:30am CDT
THE GRIDIRON BREAKDOWN

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what does it say that Arkansas has an edge at every offensive position except the offensive line?(And their O-line must be REALLY bad). This is not LSU, Bama, UGA,etc. Does AU need a total overhaul on offensive recruiting or overhaul of offensive coaches?

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JG,

With Franklin gone, do you think some doors might open for Neal Caudel (sp?)

11:45 AM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Neil Caudle? Who is that?

(No.)

11:48 AM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

As far as the positional stuff:

QB -- Auburn is flatline.

TB -- Ben Tate is good, but Lester is injured, T. Davis hasn't been effective. Arkansas' guy leads the league in offensive yards.

WR -- Arkansas has two good receivers. How many does Auburn have? You tell me.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous WarEagleRK said...

That's bad when you look at how bad Arkansas has been this year, and they still are out playing us at ever offensive skill position.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not arguing any of the positions Jay. It is just hard to believe a rebuilding(in my mind)UA program is better at all skill positions than AU is in year 10 of a program that was picked to win the West this year. Something does not seem right with this picture, do you agree?

12:22 PM  
Blogger WarEagleRK said...

I don't think that they are better at those spots, they are just out performing us at those spots.

We probably have more overall talent in those positions, but Petrino developed theirs better than we have ours.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't disagree with you RK. Petrino has done more with his players in less than a year than our coaches have with our players in 2-3 years in most cases. I mean does anyone think UA can recruit more talent than AU? What has happened to RB recruiting at AU? That was the one position we could count on but the talent there is all in the upper classes. QB and WR production speaks for itself I believe.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

So is Caudle just not that good? He was a pretty well regarded recruit. I think we have already hit the panic button on offense, might as well throw him out there and see what happens.

12:43 PM  
Blogger WarEagleRK said...

I think all the knee problems that Caudle has had over the years has limited him.

I could be wrong though.

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Mr Anonymous said...

Mario Fannin is getting plenty of carries tomorrow, guys. You will see some two back sets. It will be extremely basic but Tate can pick up the blocks with the best of them.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Crudup said...

Caudle is not injured anymore. Problem is he'll get injured as soon as he sees any action. He's Tristan Davis #2

12:53 PM  
Blogger Kristina said...

So I am by no means a "Kodi is the Savior" kind of person, but does anyone think that if given a game to run himself (as opposed for coming in for a series or 2 here and there)he could get settled in and perform a little better? Would knowing "he's the man" for a game have any affect on his confidence?

Just seems like most of the complaints about him have to do with poise, decision making and leadership. Which, in some ways, can only be aquired during actual games.

Maybe not in this game, since it seems like lives are on the line if they lose, but maybe Tenn-Martin?

Or do we really not have ANY talented QB's and no amount of game time is going to change that?

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Crudup said...

Kristina, you seem to take the cake as most intelligent poster in here. And that list below you includes myself, William The Crudup. Thank you for gracing us with your voice of reason and undoubt.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous cotton said...

is Arkansas ahead of Auburn at RB, even with Fannin?

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You Fannin lovers need to wait til he produces something...and doesn't fumble.

Same for Kodi.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous patdyeswildturkey said...

hahaha, fannin lovers, love it. I used to be a Trott lover, but I have been too counseling and watch some game film, so I am much better.

Running Backs, seems we have recruited a bunch for 2009, plus we have reggie hunt and McCalebb, from 08 maybe coming back if they qualify, so i feel good about that position. It seems like Brad Lester has been here 4ever. One of those guys thats been around. Tristan, the guy hasnt done anything since he has been there except use up the teams health insurance plan.

Tate, not a burner, but i like the guy, he knows the position, runs like stephen davis. hits the holes, not as big.

Little Rudi, we had such high hopes, now he is picking up the kicking tee, where has he gone. I guess the same place the running game has.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jay G., why so much love for you for Ben Tate? You guys homeboys?

You prop him up like Finebaum does Bama.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous patdyeswildturkey said...

You know how Bama fans commission a Daniel Moore Painting everytime they get a first down or everytime Mal Moore takes a dump.

Here is my question of the day. At this point in the season what would Auburn's highlighted portrait be of?

A.) Tony Franklin leaving with 32 books in his hands and double chin.

B.) The Offensive Line doing the Meerkat look towards the sidelines.

C.) The Scoreboard from the 3-2 MSU win.

D.) Chris Todd throwing into triple coverage, pick your game.


Answer freely...once votes are tallied we will commission the painting...

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one vote for the Meerkat shuffle

2:21 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Tate and I are not homeboys. In fact, we had a pretty contentious interview in early September that was at least somewhat memorable. I insinuated that he wasn't a spread back and ... he didn't agree.

Anyway, I think he's a good power back. He fights for yards like Carnell Williams. He's a good receiver. He's at least a decent blocker.

Acceleration isn't his strong point, but he's a big dude. They can't all be Ferraris. A GT 500 Mustang works better at some tracks.

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok. I appreciate the answer. I was just joshing you about the homeboy thing anyways.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Meerkat said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:28 PM  
Blogger scottie b in tennessee said...

congrats Meerkat, thanks or 'officially' joining the HOTTIES!

a Daniel Moore print 6 games in, eh?.....hhhhhhhhmmmmm. i'll give it a shot.

For fun: I like the idea of the O-line looking towards the sideline while 4 people feverishly wave in 1 play and 3 dummy calls with reckless abandon.

In all seriousness: Uh...not sure. How about the 2-point conversion stop by the defense. Pretty sad, no?

2:33 PM  
Blogger Kristina said...

Crudup,
Thanks...I think. Not sure if you were being sarcastic but I am just going to have an over inflated sense of self-worth and pretend that you were being sincere ;-)

No one answered my question though...

P.S. I like ellipses...

2:35 PM  
Blogger AU Meerkat said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Kristina said...

Daniel Moore...ugh

I used to work in a frame shop and Bama fans would drop a grand or more to hang those things IN THEIR TRAILERS. No lie. Priorities, people, priorities.

Was his last Auburn one of Terry Bowden?

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

Today is Crudups birthday. He is magic where it counts.

2:42 PM  
Blogger scottie b in tennessee said...

I've never been in the "Kodi-The Savior" camp either, but heck, if he the kid needs to actually play to get comfortable playing, then, um, here's an idea....play him. It's pretty obvious now that Kodi wasn't the only one not sure of what to do when he got out there.

I think they kept throwing Todd in there b/c (in theory) he knew what CTF was trying to do even though he only had half an arm (at best). He probably knows where to throw it but can't and has to adjust making some of his decisions look pretty bad.

btw, what is an 'ellipses'?

2:44 PM  
Blogger scottie b in tennessee said...

Happy B-Day Crudup, mine was Monday. Wooo-hooo!!!!!!!!

2:45 PM  
Blogger Kristina said...

Ellipsis...

Those three periods in a row make up an ellipsis. Plural form: ellipses.

Happy Birthday, Crudup!

2:49 PM  
Blogger AU Meerkat said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Crudup!

Meerkat, you better watch it. If Lee Ziemba gets word you disparaged him like that, he's liable to put the hurt on you.

2:53 PM  
Blogger scottie b in tennessee said...

aaahhhhh...

i wan't a great engligh/grammer student as you can tell from my posts.

but now that i know, thanks. i'm a big fan of them too. i learned a new word. sweet!

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Crudup said...

Jay, Tate does NOT fight for yards like Carnell Williams. No way. And the guy's hands are average at best- don't care what he's done in practice. He's a flop in games with his hands so far.

Come on. Carnell Williams? Dude...that one stings. Carnell did more at 175lbs as a true freshman than Tate could ever dream of doing.

Thanks for the birfday wishes!!!

2:55 PM  
Blogger scottie b in tennessee said...

I'd like to see Ziemba put the hurt on anybody in a different colored jersey.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Crudup said...

So was it Pugh or Ziemba that had it out with CTF?

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Crudup said...

Kristina, I was for real. And your questions don't need answers because we all got it too well. You nailed it.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Kristina said...

I was hoping I was wrong about the QB talent though...

Ok boys, I am out to go set up the tailgate site. Catch ya later tonight!

Have fun at the campfire.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many offsides penalties will the line commit this week?

A. 9
B. 10
C. 11
D. 12

Ever since Chaz "Chop Block" Ramsey went down we've sucked. Maybe his viscious appetite for destroying DT knees was the glue that held this crew together... (ellipses)

3:13 PM  
Blogger AU Meerkat said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Crudup said...

I'm sticking with C. I like averages. I miss, chop block. He kept it real. Oh well. Can't wait for 7 and all the critical sacks that come with it.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Phormerly Phred said...

Happiest of Birthdays to Sir William the Crudup! Peace.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

We sign Kodi Burns, the QB everyone in Arkansas wanted to be a Razorback, and now when we play them they have an advantage at QB. Difference = coaching.

8:39 AM  

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