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AP rankings have dropped

Your Auburn Tigers are ranked No. 10.

Coaches have the team ranked No. 11.

The top 40% according to Associated Press poll voters:
1. Georgia Bulldogs
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Southern Cal Trojans
4. Oklahoma Sooners
5. Florida Gators
6. Missouri Tigers
7. LSU Tigers
8. West Virginia Mountaineers
9. Clemson Tigers
10. Auburn Tigers

Scrimmage Two, 8/16

Hey everyone. It sounds like Scrimmage Two went to the offense. That's what CB Jerraud Powers thinks. LB Merrill Johnson said the same thing. I'm OK with declaring a winner.

NOTE: Media wasn't permitted inside the stadium. I have to report on what coach Tommy Tuberville and eight designated players said about the event.

I'm OK with that philosophically, which we have discussed. If I'm a reader, I want numbers. Now you know why numbers aren't here. Thanks for your continued understanding.

Here are some Things You Need To Know:
  • The offense scored on at least its first two possessions. C Jason Bosley said they scored a touchdown on the first possession and a field goal on the second. ``It was a blur after that," he said.

  • Defenders said there were a lot of missed tackles today. DC Paul Rhoads counted 26 last week. LB Chris Evans said he's worried there were more than 26 today. ``I would say the two weeks of training camp really showed today. That's not an excuse but you could really see it. We need to get back to being tough mentally and physically," Evans said.

  • WR Philip Pierre-Louis (aka Frenchy, pictured above) was the offensive star. Players on both sides of the ball said Pierre-Louis was working the defense. Johnson said he missed a tackle against No. 82.Here's what Tuberville said: ``He's not a big target, but the quarterbacks have a lot of confidence in him. There were other guys who made plays. Just standing out there and watching, the guy who made the consistent plays was him (Pierre-Louis.)"

  • As crudup noted, TB Ben Tate had "about a 60-yard run" (Bosley) and WR Rod Smith scored on what Smith described as a 50-yard pass. He was said to have been working against freshman CB D'Antoine Hood.

  • Smith said QB Kodi Burns "tagged off" his original route (a comeback) and requested that Smith run a stutter-and-go on the touchdown pass. Smith beat freshman DB D'Antoine Hood for the score.

  • Tuberville: ``Defensively, there really wasn't anybody who stood out."

  • Tuberville seemed satisfied with the two quarterbacks' play. Not impressed; just satisfied.

  • DE Jomarcus Savage injured a shoulder in the scrimmage. Tuberville doesn't believe the injury is serious.

  • RG Bart Eddins, who injured a shoulder during practice this week, is expected to miss only a week. He was examined by Birmingham-based orthopedist James Andrews. No damage was found.

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I reached what I consider a crescendo of my Project Gotham Racing 4 career last night. I finally gathered 1,000,000 Kudos points and "bought" the Million Kudos gamer picture. Yay me.

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Tuberville previews The Big Scrimmage

Coach Tommy Tuberville recently spoke at length about The Big Scrimmage to be held Saturday. Nobody can watch, of course, but we still can talk about it. We talk about the easter bunny, too.

  • It'll include "80 to 100 plays" ... not including special-teams work.

  • It won't include WR Mario Fannin (hamstring), TB Tristan Davis (foot) or Sen'Derrick Marks, whom Tuberville said needs rest. I suspect TB Brad Lester (ankle) could be out of action as well.

  • TB Ben Tate apparently is fine. He's playing on Saturday. He was working on the side yesterday with those guys listed above (in addition to Big Snacks Berry), but I guess Tate's injury was less significant.

  • Watching Tate and Berry work some shuttle runs together Thursday afternoon may have been my 2008 highlight so far. Talk about an odd couple.

  • Tuberville likes DE Jomarcus Savage a lot and thinks he may play this year.

  • The Top Two Quarterbacks will play the first half. Neil Caudle and Barrett Trotter will duke it out (I think I'm being alliterative) during the second half for those coveted third-team offense duties.

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

My view of the defensive depth chart

I was thinking about this and couldn't put it down.

This is like sooooo unofficial. Just my view.

DE (strong) -- Goggans, Gray/Savage, Greene
DT -- Marks, Clayton
NG -- Ricks, Blanc, Doolittle
DE (weak) -- Coleman, Carter

LB (weak) -- M. Johnson, Evans, Herring
LB (middle) -- Blackmon, Bynes
LB (strong) -- Stevens, Courtney Harden, Pybus

CB -- Powers, Hood
CB -- McFadden, Thorpe, H. Adams
S -- Etheridge, C. Thompson
S -- M. McNeil, M. Slade

("good" division): Clayton. He looks like a player now.
BIGGEST SURPRISE ("bad" division): Raven Gray. It's obvious his knee isn't quite right. It looks like he's not hustling sometimes, too.

Photo gallery: 8/15

Hey everyone. Practice was closed today, so I have no practice footage to share.

I have some interviews I'm planning to post later today. I'm also going to build what I think is the current depth chart. That's later today or tomorrow.

For now, ingest some photos from yesterday's workout.

The offensive line was paired with quarterbacks during this drill for the first time Thursday. I'd say they're starting to really hone stuff now.

Here's Jomarcus Savage being ostentatious with a blocking dummy. He's had a pretty good camp. I think he's going to play this fall ... mainly because Raven Gray and AJ Greene aren't reliable just yet.

Here's AJ Greene working through a swim-move drill "against" Cam Henderson, who wasn't supposed to put up much of a fight.

Here's Cam Henderson going through the same drill a few minutes later.

Here's former Prattville star Justin Albert working on the side during Thursday's practice. He underwent knee surgery in December and still is working his way back. I think he'll have a chance to do something in the coming years ... provided he sticks it out.

Here's the watermelon extravaganza. Fellow scribe Collin Mickle of the O-A News believes that salt + watermelon = crazy awful. That combo sounds at least decent to me.

Practice report, 8/14 (video included)

Hey everyone. Let's get to bidness.

  • Auburn's practice was pretty short today; 90 minutes or so. They were in shorts and shoulder pads. There was no contact. They worked on field goals and position-specific drills. The offense ran their offense at a frenetic pace at the end of practice. Defenders were on the next field over. It was just Tony Franklin relaying signals and the team running 'em quickly. It's called "NASCAR" in Franklin lingo.

  • Coach Tommy Tuberville said he still hasn't received a full academic report from the final summer semester. ``What happens is, a lot of these professors get their grades done and they don't send them all in. You know, they go on vacation or whatever, because it's between (semesters) and they don't get posted. We're not allowed to call or do anything like that. We're at the mercy of information coming to us as it comes."

  • Practices will be closed to fans and media from here on out. ``We'll hopefully have a little bit of an advantage going into the season with two new coordinators and people not knowing what we're doing. We've been pretty basic to this point."

  • DT Tez Doolittle was moving better than I've seen him this fall.

  • DE Raven Gray was not moving well.

  • Players are really happy to be leaving the intramural fields for the official football fields tomorrow. DT Sen'Derrick Marks said he feels like an old man every time he practices on the concrete-like surface on the intramural fields. ``Every day, you get shin splits or you leave with tendinitis. It's either or. The groud is so hard."

Enjoy these videos.

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Schedule update

I just overheard Tony Franklin saying this will be a very short practice: 6-8 periods of special teams and 10 minutes of team drills.

If that's true, and I have to believe him, I don't have time to build a practice video and get back to the practice field in time to get what I need there.

Long story short: Video delayed, practice report still on time.

ps: This is the last open practice of the season. Just found out. This will be your final practice video of the season. Not sure I can top yesterday's Red Rubber Ball.

Prelude to Practice Fourteen (8/14)

Hey everyone. Practice allegedly begins at 4:15 p.m. I'm planning to be there. Expect a practice video around 5:15 and a full practice briefing, complete with the HABOTN insight you crave, around 8 o'clock.

Tuberville said they're not going to do much hitting today. The Big Scrimmage is two days away. So you boxing fans ... don't expect to read about more carnage. You all are savages.

8/14: Swinton no longer a one-hit wonder
8/14: AU notebook

8/13: Call 'em the Fighting Tigers
8/12: AU teammates tend to injured Savage
8/11: Auburn defense searches for answers
8/10: Saturday scrimmage report
8/9: Auburn's Lykes able to turn heads
8/8: Fannin gets feel for new offense
8/8: Tuberville loves law-enforcement officers

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Bonus video: 8/13 interviews

Hey everyone. I have another video to satiate your desire for more Auburn. Get ready to hear from Greg Knox talking about Chris Slaughter, Tray Blackmon on "representing Auburn" and Don Dunn discussing Tez Doolittle.

I'm still tweaking the graphics. If you have an opinion, please do share.

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Overview of Practice Thirteen (8/13)

Hey everyone. I did not attend the Tigers' afternoon workout. I instead knocked out a few stories for our big preseason section, which will drop next week. Details to come later.

Still, I knew a few things that happened during Auburn's afternoon session.
  • QBs Kodi Burns and Chris Todd were held out of most passing drills becuase, as coach Tommy Tuberville said, they've thrown too many passes lately. Seems reasonable.

  • That means QBs Barrett Trotter and Neil Caudle went man-against-man for the No. 3 spot. Tuberville hedged his bets on that one, though, saying both players looked strong.

  • TBs Brad Lester and Ben Tate didn't participate fully this afternoon. Tuberville said they're simply resting in advance of the Big Scrimmage on Saturday.

  • Auburn's next practice is set for 4:15ish tomorrow. It could be 8 a.m. I'm planning to attend and provide a full slate of insightful coverage.

Thanks for reading the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net. We're the HABOTN.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Practice Twelve (8/13)

Hey everyone. On this, a second rainy day in Auburn, I'm ready to get to business.

Here is What You Need to Know:
  • Assistant coach Greg Knox said James Swinton has had "the best camp" among all the wideouts. Maybe he will be Big Game James after all ...

  • Swinton said he considered quitting a few years ago after falling to the bottom of the depth chart. Why did he stick it out? He had the skills. ``If I knew I didn't have the talent, I probably wouldn't have kept going. I'm not going to lie to you: I wouldn't have kept going."

  • Knox also sounded pretty high on WR Chris Slaughter, saying "the light has come on" for the sophomore.

  • The depth chart at WR works like this:
    Z: Rod Smith, Montez Billings, Mario Fannin
    X: Swinton, Slaughter, Quindarius Carr/Phillip Pierre-Louis
    Y: Trott/McKenzie, Hawthorne ("speed Y")
    H: Robert Dunn, Terrell Zachery, John Douglas ("power H")

  • Assistant coach Don Dunn identified DT Zach Clayton as the team's fourth-best pass rusher among all the defensive linemen. The other three? He didn't say, but one man's guess: Hot Carter, Antonio Coleman, Sen'Derrick Marks.

  • Dunn said he'd like to see freshman DT Derrick Lykes redshirt this season. "He has a lot of potential but is a little lost right now like most of the freshmen."

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Practice video: 8/13

The are practicing on the official practice fields for the first time this season. Perpetual rains have turned the intramural fields into a marsh for now. The media was allowed to shoot from long range only.

Practice is sorta open. We can watch from a long way away. I'm not out there. I can't see that far without my camera.

The opening to this video is simply awesome.

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Practice video: 8/12

No practice footage today because they changed the schedule and didn't tell us until it was ... almost time for practice. Please accept some interview highlights from CTT, CTF and WR Rod Smith instead.

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As always, we keep archived video in the HABOTN warehouse:

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Practice Eleven (8/12)

Hey everyone. Let's get to business.

Here's what You Need To Know:
  • A pretty serious fight broke out today during the pass-rush drill. The initial participants were RT Ryan Pugh and DE Antonio Coleman. They started going at it. Then several other players, most notably LT Lee Ziemba, piled on. The fracas ended with Coleman et al. crashing into a water-cooler. Coach Tommy Tuberville, in a rare show of anger at practice, raced over to the scene and began yelling at players to stop.

    Coleman stayed down for a few minutes. He later participated in full-contact drills, so I'm guessing he's fine. I'll be writing about this in Wednesday's editions.

  • The offensive line didn't have a good day in pass rush. Freshman DE Jomarcus Savage began the drill by bull rushing Ziemba into the quarterback. Pugh, LG Tyronne Green and OT Mike Berry were at least adequate. Hugh Nall was highly dissatisfied.

  • C Jason Bosley was back today. He didn't participate in the pass-rush drill, but he was out there for all of the 11-on-11 stuff.

  • Practice was supposed to start at 3 p.m. Bosley said he was in treatment at 7:30 a.m. when a trainer casually mentioned that practice had been shifted to the morning. Bosley said that mental adjustment provides a major obstacle for many younger players ... and may help explain some of the sluggish play.

  • DE Michael Goggans was forceful during the 11-on-11s. He wasn't affected by the schedule change.

(Click for more detail)

This is Pugh and Coleman seconds before the fight began. Notice that Coleman's right hand is up near Pugh's throat. Pugh told Hugh Nall that he started the fight because Coleman kept hitting him in the throat.

Here's Ziemba working against A.J. Greene today.

Here's Ziemba working against Mike Goggans on Monday. Notice Ziemba's posture. Can you guess who won this battle?

Tristan Davis breaks through the line during a sweep run.

Bonus video: Tuberville from 8/11

Here is a little sumpin' extra.

Tuberville on the Tigers. The emphasis here is on offense. I'll piece together a defense-themed clip tomorrow.

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Practice Ten, 8/11

Hey everyone. It's business time. No, not that business time.

Here's what You Need To Know:
    UPDATED: S Marcus Jemison had surgery today in Birmingham to repair a broken leg. It was not his ankle as first reported. I still don't understand how this injury fits into the fact that Jemison was brawling with H-back John Douglas moments before. I didn't see the play.

  • There were some nice plays by receivers today. TE Tommy Trott made a one-handed grab during 7on-7s. WR Rod Smith made an outstanding one-handed play for a touchdown from QB Kodi Burns. He dived for a ball that seemed to deep, deflected the ball up and made the grab as he was falling down.

  • LB Tray Blackmon had an interception. CB Neiko Thorpe made a pick in 7-on-7s.

  • Picture-perfect blocking from LT Lee Ziemba and WR Terrell Zachery cleared out a screen pass to WR Chris Slaughter for a touchdown.

  • DE Hot Carter was his usual dominating self during the pass-rush drill.

  • Hugh Nall seemed unhappier than usual with his linemen during the 11-on-11 drill.

  • C Jason Bosley worked on an exercise bike and jogged for a bit, but didn't participate in practice.

  • RT/C Ryan Pugh was back after missing one day with an eye injury.

  • Practice conditions were lovely this morning: 84 degrees, overcast, a gentle wind. ``They've got it too easy, these players," Tuberville said.

Practice video: 8/11

Hot off the presses. This is one of my best. There were some different things going on and ... no wind noise! Hoo-ray.

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(Videos should be available no later than 9:45 a.m. CDT)

Practice Nine, 8/10

Hey everyone. Let's get to business.

Here is What You Need To Know:
  • As a poster mentioned yesterday here on the HABOTN, LB Tray Blackmon did not attend the Saturday scrimmage. He said he was receiving treatment in the Athletic Complex for "nicks and bruises," but said he was fine. He practiced today.

  • C/RT Ryan Pugh missed practice after suffering an eye injury during the scrimmage. Recall that starting C Jason Bosley has been out six days with a strained lower back.

  • LG Tyronne Green worked at center today. He was ... uncomfortable.

  • LT Lee Ziemba has a nasty streak. He pulled DE Hot Carter's helmet off during an 11-on-11 drill and threw it at him. Carter was preparing for a counter-attack when players and trainers intervened.

  • S Zac Etheridge made some nice pass break-ups today -- one in 1-on-1s and another during the 11-on-11 drill.

  • DT Zach Clayton had a nice performance during the pass-rush drill today. He used a quick swim move to move past RG Byron Isom (who is playing well) ... then worked some lower-tier OLs later.

  • LB Craig Stevens made some exceptional plays during 11-on-11s. He undermined a right-side screen by hitting WR Mario Fannin an instant after he caught the ball. Had there been live hitting, Fannin would have been harmed. Stevens pulled the same stunt on the other side one play later. It was Fannin again.

  • CB Harry Adams was injured during 1-on-1s. Coach Tommy Tuberville said Adams simply had the wind knocked out of him. I didn't see the play. I don't have more to offer there.

  • A few days after I praised him, DT Derrick Lykes had a difficult day in pass-rush. He wasn't active and tried to bull rush blockers who saw it coming. Things didn't come together for him.

  • Practice resumes Monday with a two-a-day situation. The morning session begins at 8:30 a.m. The afternoon session begins at 5:45.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: I probably will be skipping the morning practice. I have to pick and choose sometimes. I'm planning to attend the evening session.

Practice video: 8/10

Here we go.

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(Videos will be available no later than 5:20 p.m. CDT)

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