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Taking stock of the Tigers

Hey everyone. It's a rainy day here in Alabama's capitol city and there's no practice at Auburn. I could watch women's synchronized swimming with my wife. Or I could play the Wall-E game on Wii with my 6-year-old daughter.

I'll take Auburn football for $200, Alex.

I was able to see a lot of football practice before the team went into seclusion last week. I was able to develop some reasonably well-rounded ideas on several players. Here's a look at some popular guys and what I noted:

WR Mario Fannin: He didn't look good to me. The surgically repaired shoulder seemed to trouble him a lot. Remember that he's switching to a new position. I think he'll have a good chance to contribute during the season's second half. Why not before then? His shoulder clearly remains tender and he's running with the second- and third-team offenses. He has work ahead.

WR Chris Slaughter: The HOTTIES know that I've had an irrational appreciation for Slaughter dating back to last season. He arrived late for camp in 2007 (another Clearinghouse badge of excellence) and never really got into the rhythm of Al Borges' offense. He's having a much better camp this time around. Tony Franklin has been praising the heck out of Slaughter. I consider Slaughter the team's top break-out candidate.

DE Antoine "Hot" Carter: Stanley McClover was the last Auburn end I've seen who is this good at pass rush. Carter is so fast and quick that even a guy like Lee Ziemba, a franchise-type tackle, can't maintain contact with him. Carter's run-stopping ability remains a mystery -- he's still not a big player by any means -- but he's going to create a lot of problems for opponents on third down.

CB D'Antoine Hood: I may be in the minority here, but I think this kid is going to be very good. I'm just not sure 2008 is going to be a break-out season for him. He's slower and less "twitchy" than classmates Neiko Thorpe and Harry Adams. Still, Hood clearly has The Feel. Once he applies lessons learned through trial and error, he'll be a good one. I see him as a Jae Wilhite kind of player -- without the attitude. I mean that in a good way.

DT Zach Clayton: This is a tricky case. I watch him and I see tons of effort and violent hands. That's what assistant coach Don Dunn likes. That equals playing time. Still, some fellow writers whose opinions I value believe Clayton is no more than a standard DT. I'm really high on him. We'll see. Effort goes a long way in football.

DE Raven Gray: Gray (pictured at right) was supposed to be a superstar the moment he arrived. Instead, he was hobbling on crutches his first day at Auburn. The cause: December knee surgery. I haven't been impressed with Gray at all so far. His effort level didn't seem on par with more experienced ends like Coleman, Carter and Goggans. Gray was chastised often for not hustling, though that may be a function of simply not knowing Auburn's practice protocol.

With that said, he'll have to make major progress before emerging as an SEC-level contributor. There are plenty of alibis for Gray's problems. Many of them are plausible. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt ... for now. Consider him a third-team player until something changes.

CB Walt McFadden: He's a good player. He's a replacement for Aairon Savage, who is out for the season with a knee injury. McFadden is a guy who generally uses good technique. His brother, Bryant, plays defense with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's very apparent that Walt McFadden studies and works hard to improve himself. He's a little short on athleticism. Still, he's going to be less bust-prone than many people believe. He's more than a stop-gap option.

RG Byron Isom: He shares some characteristics with McFadden -- both players are "replacements" for more high-profile teammates. Isom is playing in place of Chaz Ramsey, who is out with back problems. Isom is an interesting case because, at least to my untrained eye, Isom looks as good as Ramsey. Isom is remarkably strong and rarely loses leverage. He learns from mistakes. Isom doesn't appear to have great feet, though, which reduces his range to some degree. That isn't a huge deal at guard. I think he's a good one. If I was giving letter grades, I'd bestow a B.


Check out "Frenchy Pierre" feeding the horse. He was one of several players who attended the team's annual event at Storybrook Farms, which provides provides equine-based therapeutic programs or children facing life-threatening illness, disabilities and grief.

Here's Andre Wadley (left, in the flesh!) and Harry Adams signing some autographs.

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

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Scholarship allocation

Hey everyone. I started thinking last night (in a muscle-relaxer daze because of back pain) about how Auburn allocates its scholarships by position.

So I broke it down.

Auburn, as best I can tell, has 79 kids on scholarship right now. Some of the numbers were surprising to me. How about you?

Here they are...

QB (4): Burns, Todd, Caudle, Trotter

RB (5): Lester, Tate, Davis, E. Smith, Douglas

WR/TE (16): Dunn, Slaughter, R. Smith, Swinton, Hawthorne, Fannin, Billings, Carr, Winter, Pierre-Louis, Zachery, B. Woods, Trott, Slusher, V. Smith, D. Adams

OL (12): Ziemba, Green, Bosley, Isom, Pugh, Berry, Eddins, Coulahan, Cooper, McCain, Ramsey, Roseman

DL (15): Marks, Blanc, Ricks, Clayton, Doolittle, Lykes, Coleman, Carter, Goggans, McKenzie, Gray, Greene, J. Savage, Henderson, Wadley

LB (9): Blackmon, Johnson, Evans, Stevens, Harden, Bynes, Herring, Pybus, Barnes

DB (15): Powers, McFadden, Etheridge, McNeil, A. Savage, Thompson, Slade, H. Adams, Hood, Thorpe, Bell, Cole, M. Jemison, Vickers, Williams

Special teams (3): Byrum, Shoemaker, Dax Dellenbach (just added him)

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

OT: Rush playing Rush

You know I loves me some Rock Band.

Our band, Foot Shot, gained entrance into the Hall of Fame this summer. We were very proud.

Here is my favorite band, Rush, playing Rush's "Tom Sawyer" on Rock Band.

It ends poorly.

Practice report, 8/21

Hey everyone. As discussed earlier, I'm trying to host videos on the Advertiser's website. Here are my reasons: The files are much smaller (quicker upload for me), flash video works more efficiently for me and the video quality is better for you.

Everyone's a winner.

So we're going to give this a try. You will need a relatively recent version of Shockwave, which is a pretty standard plug-in these days. I'm pretty sure you have it. Let me know if you have technological obstacles. We'll leave no HOTTIE behind.

Flash video:

Here are some mildly interesting things that were discussed after practice today.
  • DT Zach Clayton missed practice with a sprained neck. His position coach, Don Dunn, said that was done as a precaution. Dunn believes Clayton will be back at practice no later than Sunday.

  • There will be no follow-up scrimmage.

    "We're about done hitting," coach Tommy Tuberville said.

  • Tuberville compared freshman CB Neiko Thorpe to former Auburn CB Carlos Rogers, which is remarkably high praise.

    ``He has tremendous upside," Tuberville said. ``He can make up for a lot of mistakes and in that position, a guy who can do that can cover a lot of ground. He plays with his eyes really well."

  • Tuberville guessed that 10 true freshmen will play this season. He allocated playing time to 18 newcomers last season. The coach said he'll start narrowing his list this weekend. He'll be busy: Tuberville is hosting the seniors tonight for the annual Steak Dinner Powwow.

    "We're going to talk about the season," Tuberville said. ``We do it every year and it's always good. I let each one of them talk about their three, four or five years and what they expect, what they've seen and what good of shape we're in. I let them kind of vent tonight, which is always good to find out the pulse of the team."

  • Auburn's athletic media relations director, Kirk Sampson, said today that Auburn's 2009 A-Day game will be played on March 28. If you're into planning ahead -- way way way ahead -- go ahead and make those hotel reservations.

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

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Refreshing news from Longshore

Hey everyone. I had a chance to listen in for 1.5 segments of the WMSP morning program today. The topic: You guessed it. Me. Still talking about me 24 hours later.

One thing that disappoints me is the consistent misrepresentation of my radio comments.

John Longshore was kind enough to pass along some of the emails WMSP has received since my Wednesday appearance. Here are a few minomers that I'll gladly correct for the 100th time.

I've only been covering Auburn since 1998.
From "Marty Mann"
Just because Jay G. has a “broader” range, as you say, to express his views still don’t make them right. I and others are in the belief that he has no ability when it comes to evaluating football players and teams. He’s a basketball guy. He said basically the same things prior to the ’04 season. Of course you have to listen closely to understand anything that he says with all the “that’s how I roll”, that’s how he rolls” references. Geeez!!! Oh by the way I like the way you use the word “broader”. One last fat joke………

I am not a basketball guy. I'm a soccer guy. I watch soccer in my free time. The only time I watch non-SEC basketball is during the NCAA Tournament. I knew Auburn football would be good in 2004 and never said anything different. People rarely remember that I correctly predicted the 2003 meltdown well before the first game.

Mark Murphy from ITAT should remember. He's the one who told his readers to "consider the source" when that mean ol' Jay G. was forecasting problems in August 2003.

From "Curtis"

You are loving the fact that Jay G Tate is getting hate mail.

The problem is he quoted these stats of 3 for 10 and 8 for 10 for AU's QBs. I think he got the completions mixed up with the number of sloppy joes he downed at practice.

Fact of the matter is - Jay G doesnt see the practices - so how can he comment on any of the players? He likes to make up criticisms about players yet he doesnt want any one to criticize his reporting. His glass is ALWAYS half empty when it comes to Auburn.

If you forward this to Jay G - ROLL TIDE, JAY G! Maybe you'll outlive Cecil Hurt and can get your dream job one day.


The only time I've been to Tuscaloosa is to cover Auburn there. I covered 13 of the 14 practices Auburn held at the intramural fields earlier this month. That's 13 or 14 more than either Barry McKnight or John Longshore.

Practice report, 8/20

Hey everyone. Let's get to business.

  • TB signee Reggie Hunt has been declared academically ineligible. He will beging attending Copiah-Lincoln CC in northern Mississippi immediately. The plan is for him to redshirt this season, meaning he could have up to three years of eligibility at Auburn if he qualifies prior to the 2010 season.

  • Coach Tommy Tuberville said TB Brad Lester returned to practice today after a week-long absence. Another TB, Tristan Davis, still is out with what Tuberville said is a hamstring injury.

  • PPL (aka Philip Pierre-Louis) continues to see his stock rise. Assistant coach Eddie Gran said tonight that PPL and Ben Tate have been working as the top kickoff-return duo. Davis is a first-team guy, but he's hurt. Also, PPL is vying for punt-return duties with Robert Dunn and Chris "Sgt." Slaughter.

  • Asked about the possibility of redshirting DE Raven Gray, Tuberville provided a surprising answer. ``A lot of it will depend on what (Gray) does the next three or four weeks. A.J. Greene is playing better so that gives us, with Gabe, five over there we feel pretty good about."


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Prelude to 8/20 action

Hey everyone. I just made my first appearance of the year on WMSP's morning show. Those guys are a real pleasure. You know how Longshore likes to poke fun of my weight? I ran into him the other day just as I was leaving my morning workout. Oh, the irony.

(I'm 5-10, 210.)

He was in the Y registering one of his kids for a program. I think that's the first time he's rolled into the gym in a while. The front-desk people didn't know who he was. Oh, the irony.

Anyway, here are some Auburn stories to whet your appetite. Practice starts at 5 p.m. Video and HABOTN Insight® to follow around 9.

IF YOU'RE WONDERING ABOUT THE PIC ... I just felt like we needed some superstar appeal this morning. Nobody reinforces HABOTN ideals more than Snoop Dogg: Reserved ... yet committed to coming correct.

8/20: McKenzie emerges as a two-way threat

8/18: Tigers try to recharge batteries
8/17: Tigers' offense shines in scrimmage
8/16: Pierre-Louis already thinking big
8/15: Auburn's Trott thrilled about offense
8/14: Swinton no longer a one-hit wonder

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

Video report, 8/19

Today's Auburn Posse discusses Gabriel McKenzie's move to defense.

Tommy Tuberville as The Head Coach
Steve Ensminger as An Assistant Coach
Terry Price as Another Assistant Coach
Josh Bynes as The Second Middle Linebacker

Jay G. Tate as "Cochese" (random Beastie Boys reference)

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From the Advertiser website (flash video):

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

Practice report: 8/19

Hey everyone. We've got some big news involving Gabe McKenzie. See below.

  • Gabe McKenzie has been moved to defensive end. He'll be working on the strong side behind Michael Goggans. It's obvious now that coaches are concerned about Raven Gray's immediate availability.

  • That means DT Sen'Derrick Marks will be staying right where he is. That was the alternative plan, though now DT Jake Ricks now is struggling with some physical problems. Losing Marks in the middle would have made that the team's thinnest position. Plus, Marks is a tackle and it's time for him to play at the correct spot.

  • Here is Tuberville implausible official statement on how McKenzie's move was received by coaches: ``He came to me. It was kind of a surprise to all the other coaches when I went and told them that we had somebody moving to defensive end."

  • Darrell Roseman has been moved to guard. He had been playing at defensive tackle.

  • I heard TE Vance Smith's name today. He's a freshman. He's now the de facto No. 2 tight end behind Tommy Trott, though that doesn't mean what it used to under Tony Franklin. Tight ends and inside receivers are grouped together.

  • Bailey Woods, who is a second-year tight end, apparently will be vying only for special-teams responsibilities.

  • TE Brent Slusher was at practice today for the first time this year. He's been out with what coach Tommy Tuberville referred to as physical "issues."

  • Jomarcus Savage's shoulder injury isn't considered serious. Still, he's going to miss at least a week at a time when missing a week is a big deal.

  • Tuberville said there has been no word on TB Reggie Hunt's status.

  • Auburn has made true freshmen off-limits to the media until after the Louisiana-Monroe game. If you want daily updates on Frenchy or Neiko Thorpe or Harry Adams or Barrett Trotter ... you'd better consult the Ouija board.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

MGM-AUB gas report

As someone who doesn't earn a ton of money -- and fetches a remarkably low mileage reimbursement -- I have been monitoring the gas-price situation pretty carefully.

So I'm going to start a recurring feature we're going to call: The MGM-AUB gas report.

Why do you care? I don't know. I share because I care.

Raceway (Montgomery, exit 6) -- 3.47
Liberty (Montgomery, exit 11) -- 3.49
BP (Waugh, exit 16) -- 3.49
Petro: 2 (Shorter, exit 22) -- 3.56
Torch 85 (exit 42) -- 3.69
Raceway (Auburn, exit 51) -- 3.53
Spectrum (Auburn, Wire & University) -- 3.49: down four cents

THANKS to Brandon for providing updated information on the Auburn Raceway price. The HOTTIES are watchdogs as well.

Auburn adds another

The list keeps growing. At this rate, Auburn will have no Signing Day anxiety.

A 23rd player has committed to the Tigers. Linebacker prospect Jonathan Atchison of Atlanta's Douglass High said he's planning to sign with Auburn in February. He is expected to play outside linebacker, likely on the weak side, in college.

Here is your updated list of commitments:

LB Harris Gaston, Birmingham (Bessemer Academy)
WR Brandon Heavens, Birmingham (Bessemer Academy)
QB Raymond Cotton, Mobile (Faith Academy) ... though he's moving this summer
DT Terrence Coleman, Mobile (Williamson)
DE Jamontay Pilson, Greenville (Greenville)
TE Philip Lutzenkirchen, Marietta, Ga. (Lassiter)
TB Rodney Scott, Cross City, Fla. (Dixie County)
LB Jonathan Evans, Mobile (Blount)
WR Travante Stallworth, Leesville, La. (Leesville)
WR Ladarius Perkins, Greenville, Miss. (St. Joseph)
OL Andre Harris, Hampton, Ga. (Lovejoy)
WR LaVoyd James, Mobile (Williamson)
OL Aaron Moore, Frisco, Texas (Centennial)
DE Donald Ford, Odenville (St. Clair County)
LB Brandon Jacobs, Lilburn, Ga. (Parkview)
LB Jamie Collins, Meadville, Miss. (Franklin County)
DB Reggie Taylor, Fort Valley, Ga. (Peach County)
CB Davis Conner, Batesville, Miss. (South Panola)
LB Jonathan Atchison, Atlanta (Douglass)

*LB Eltoro Freeman, Alex City (Miss. Gulf Coast CC)
*DE Wilfred Journet, Lafayette, La. (Copiah-Lincoln CC)
*DL Nick Fairley, Mobile (Copiah-Lincoln CC)
WR Cameron Kenney, Dacula, Ga. (Garden City Community College)
* signed with Auburn out of high school in Feb. 2007.

Video report, 8/17

Here are some tidbits from Kodi Burns, Craig Stevens, Tuberville and Don Dunn.


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Practice report: 8/17

Hey everyone. Let's get to business.

Here is What You Need to Know:
  • Assistant coach Don Dunn said Mike Blanc has moved into the top spot at noseguard as of today. That means Blanc jumped ahead of Jake Ricks. It's unclear if this is a deal that will carry through to the Louisiana-Monroe game.

  • There is a growing belief that Sen'Derrick Marks may move to DE again shortly. The thought is that he presents an upgrade over Mike Goggans ... and instantly provides an answer to Auburn's depth problem on the strong side. Raven Gray, who is behind Goggans right now, has not played well so far this season. Jomarcus Savage was in a sling today with shoulder discomfort and A.J. Greene just hasn't been very good to this point.

  • If Marks moves to DE, the Tigers still have an inside rotation of Ricks, Blanc, Zach Clayton and Tez Doolittle.

  • In case you missed it earlier, DE Jomarcus Savage injured his right shoulder in the scrimmage and is due for an MRI scan tomorrow.

  • Assistant coach Greg Knox said Rod Smith, Chris Slaughter and Philip Pierre-Louis (aka PPL) played well in the scrimmage.

  • Coach Tommy Tuberville said DE Andre Wadley, the freshman who has been hospitalized with an unknown physical ailment, attended practice Sunday and will attend class Monday. "You could tell he was limping a little bit," Tuberville said. ``When you lay around two or three weeks and don't do a whole lot, your body shuts down and you've got some adjusting to do."

  • Auburn is OFF on Monday. No practice. No nothing. I'm not going to cry. Promise.

The greatest moment of my professional career

From the THAT just happened file comes this nugget: I now have my own house ad on the Advertiser's web site. Check it out all the way at the bottom. How hot is that?

The HOTTIES > every other blog reader. We started this blog all the way back in 2006 as a ground-breaking way to supplement the Advertiser's Auburn coverage. Now, all these years later, this blog is drawing literally dozens of users. It's a success story that one day will be chronicled by historians as the turning point in the Advertiser's coverage of Auburn football in cyberspace.

You are a part of history.

We will not rest easy. We'll continue to push forward in this world of uncertainty. We've added sound effects to the videos. We'll one day add a photo montage when Tuberville waxes philosophic about Clinton Durst or Ryan Shoemaker.

Together, we're taking free Auburn coverage into the 22nd century. Yes, I'm pretty dadgum happy about it as well.

Provided I'm not laid off next week, I'll be here (almost) every day to stoke your Auburn flame. Let's enjoy the ride together.

(Auburn practice begins at 4 o'clock today. Video and written ruminations to follow.)

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