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What I heard

Hey everyone. Wow -- 145 comments and counting. Incredible.

Lemme get a few quick things out now. I'll come back with quotes and whatnot in a bit.

  • OK. Chief thing is that Kodi Burns said the offense is "confused" on the field and in general. By that, he means he doesn't know what this team's identity is, what the goal is, what the play is, nothing.

  • BURNS: "We've got to figure something out. This -- man, I don't know. This isn't the Auburn I saw when I was recruited. This isn't the Auburn I saw last year. I don't what's going on. We've got to figure something out."

  • Think it's just Kodi? Nope. Rod Smith corroborated all that, then added that Tuberville told him to expect "major" changes tomorrow. What does that mean? Smith said he's not sure if Auburn will be running the spread as of tomorrow.

  • SMITH: "There are times out there when I'm a little confused about some of the play-calling. It's a lot easier when you get in the huddle because he just tells you the plays right then and there but that's no excuse. I think we prepared well all week and I thought we were going to come out here and play a great game, which we did in the first half, but in the second half it just went away. I'm just speechless, really. We've just got to get better in the second half."

  • Both coordinators avoided interviews. I can't remember that ever happening before. I've seen one coordinator bolt. Never two.

  • I had three players -- Burns, Mario Fannin and Josh Bynes -- give me weird looks when I asked about the "food poisoning" thing. I'm guessing that was a misdiagnosis of some kind.

  • I talked to Sen'Derrick Marks as he walked off the field. He was walking fine. He just said he ankle hurt too much to run. He's supposed to get an x-ray. To be walking on it that soon makes me think it's not that serious.

  • I talked to Jerraud Powers briefly. I couldn't get a read on his injury situation. He was too down to talk, honestly.

  • TUBERVILLE: "I apologized to the players for not giving them a chance in that second half," he said. ``We didn't make very good adjustments. This one is my fault and we're going to back to work tomorrow."

Fourth quarter: Vandy 14-13

Live from Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. ...
  • Developing.

Third quarter: Vandy 14-13

Third quarter live from Nashville, Tenn. ...

  • VANDERBILT 14, AUBURN 13: That's a 68-yard drive. Five first downs, just rolling along unabated. Mackenzi Adams is working the Tigers' defense. Almost no pass rush from the Tigers with Sen'Derrick Marks out.

  • Looks like Jerraud Powers is out for the game with a hamstring injury. Neiko Thorpe is now in a full-time role there.

  • BIG UP to those who attended our pre-game and halftime Campfires.

Second quarter: AU 13-7

Live from Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. ...

  • AUBURN 13, VANDERBILT 7: Mackenzi Adams 15 yards to Justin Wheeler. Short drive (30 yards) set up by nice punt return from D.J. Moore.

  • Auburn's first 30 plays = 25 runs. No kiddin. Yes, the Tony Franklin Offense is on sabbatical.

  • Tray Blackmon is in the game ... with the Tootsie Roll Pop.

  • Ben Tate already has 16 carries for 83 yards. (11:44, 2nd quarter)

  • More bobbled snaps. I've counted three so far. All three were from under center, too.

  • Jason Bosley back at RT.

First quarter: AU 13-0

First quarter from Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. ...
  • AUBURN 13, VANDERBILT 0: Todd to Mario Fannin for 28 yards. Only two plays on that drive. Nice pass on the post pattern to split two defenders. Wes Byrum missed the PAT kick wide right. (Wow.) Short prefaced by diving pick from Jerraud Powers.

  • AUBURN 7, VANDERBILT 0: Chris Todd to Rod Smith for 7 yards on the score. Other stats: 9 plays (6 runs for 33 yards; 2 of 3 passes for 9 yards) ... also a facemask penalty.

  • Andrew McCain in at RT.

  • Auburn came out with the power game. Ace formation. Ben Tate. Straight ahead. First three plays: 14 yards, 13 yards, 13 yards. The drive stalled at the 1, though, and the Tigers were stuffed on 4th-and-G from the 1. Ouch.

Pregame video report, 10/4


Getting things started

Hey everyone. It was a swell night for me at Opryland, where dreams come true and a Diet Coke costs $2.50. We ate dinner last night in a resty called "Aquarium," where we dined with the fishes.

The above photo illustrates that point.

Here's my basic schedule today. I'll be arriving at the stadium around 2:30 p.m., filming until 3:30 or so, then heading up to the press box to build another fine pre-game video. This ought to be interesting: Vanderbilt buzzing over football.

10/4: My weekly "First and 10" column
10/4: Auburn-Vandy more dandy than usual

Photo credit: Madison Tate

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

Possible Campfire alert

I was thinking about opening a pre-game Campfire this afternoon from 4ish to 5ish.

How many people out there are interested? I don't expect the number to be real big or anything, but quorum isn't a large number when the ROF is involved.

Looking at AU/Vanderbilt

Here it is. Feel free to disagree. I'll try to defend my positions unless Chris Todd is involved ...

Advantage: Vanderbilt
Auburn is in complete upheaval here. I believe Chris Todd is the better option right now, but he's less productive overall than Vanderbilt's Chris Nickson.

Advantage: Auburn
Ben Tate's numbers haven't been remarkable this season. How much of that is due to blocking problems? When he gets a hole, he's tough to stop. With Brad Lester and now Mario Fannin in the fray, the Tigers have a lot of depth.

Advantage: Auburn
I can't believe I'm doing this. Auburn? Receivers? Look at it this way: Tommy Trott, Robert Dunn and Rod Smith are at least league average. Vanderbilt's only good receiver, George Smith, will make his season debut today.

Advantage: Vanderbilt
Auburn's line has undermined so many drives with holding penalties this season. Lee Ziemba is in a funk. Jason Bosley's body isn't cooperating with him. Vanderbilt has accomplished plenty so far this season with their front line.

Advantage: Auburn
One thing to remember from last week: Tennessee really wanted to run. And it really couldn't. This is why. Sen'Derrick Marks and Tez Doolittle have become almost impossible for opponents to move. They block running lanes with aplomb.

Advantage: Auburn
I really like watching Vanderbilt's MLB, Patrick Benoist, play the game. He's a natural and incredibly underrated. With that said, Auburn has five guys who are SEC starters right now. It's a valuable collection.

Advantage: Auburn
This one is close. Vanderbilt has three guys with at least two picks apiece, which is remarkable. I was inclined to go with that. Then I reviewed the team's schedule, compared it with Auburn's and decided the Tigers have been just as good (if not opportunistic) against much better teams.

Advantage: Vanderbilt
Wes Byrum is struggling, the punt return team has lost its swagger. Vanderbilt has been using special teams to its advantage this season in a big way. Plus, kicker Bryant Hahnfeldt is a perfect 7-for-7. Not too shabby.

Advantage: Auburn
Look, I like Bobby Johnson. The Commodores get a little bit better every single season. They have guys in the NFL. They're more than competitive now. Still, Tommy Tuberville has been doing this at a high level for much longer.

  • Vanderbilt QB Chris Nickson (No. 3)
    6-1, 210, Sr.
    Last game: 6-for-7 for 40 yards; 7 carries for 2 yards (vs. Ole Miss)
    Scouting report: Nickson, a Brundidge native, suffered a sprained throwing shoulder in the Commodores' win against Ole Miss two weeks ago. When he's healthy, Nickson is a shifty runner who has learned to make thoughtful decisions with his throws. A career lived in the spotlight has given Nickson plenty of trial-and-error learning. He's sharp. Running is his forte -- he's averaging 4.8 yards per carry -- and he has enough elusiveness to avoid almost any tackler.

  • Auburn WR Mario Fannin (No. 27)
    5-11, 225, Soph.
    Last week: 3 catches for 29 yards; 4 rushes for 18 yards (vs. Tenn.)
    Scouting report: Fannin is one of the Tigers' most exciting players. He spent the first month of the season in relative anonymity because of a shoulder injury suffered during spring ball. Coaches changed their tune last week, allowing Fannin to take snaps from center and catch balls out of the backfield. He's a dynamic player who can contribute in a variety of ways. He's intuitive. Fannin was fumble-prone as a freshman in 2007, though he hasn't had those problems in 2008. He seems more casual with his running this season in the sense that he sprints only after identifying a clear running lane. It's an interesting change from his freshman pace.

  • Auburn DE Michael Goggans (No. 49)
    6-3, 259, Soph.
    Last week: 3 tackles and 1 quarterback hurry (vs. Tenn.)
    Scouting report: Goggans came to Auburn as a tight end, but he's become a stalwart on the defensive line. He'll be tested today because Vanderbilt loves running the ball outside the tackles, which is where Goggans roams. He smaller and slower than many SEC strong-side ends. Goggans makes things happen by playing with remarkable effort; he never gives up on plays. He sometimes seems tentative as if he's too concerned with falling victim to a misdirection play or reverse.

  • Auburn offense
    As you would expect, Vanderbilt plays intelligent football. That's not just stereotypical blather. Coach Bobby Johnson has installed a complicated defense that is blitz-heavy. It's also a shapeshifter. There are few patterns to memorize. They don't exist. The Commodores run more blitz variations than any other SEC team. That means Auburn's offensive line must pay close attention to details, which has not been its strong suit so far this season. The most critical development for the Tigers is establishing some consistency at quarterback and finding ways to make the run game move forward. There was too much side-stepping in games against LSU and Tennessee. Vanderbilt's secondary has intercepted 10 passes this season, so Chris Todd and Kodi Burns must be keen in identifying disguised coverages.

  • Auburn defense
    It's amazing that Vanderbilt has scored as much as it has this season. It ranks 12th among SEC teams in offensive yards. So how is this team 4-0? Turnovers. The defense creates turnovers and the offense executes in the red zone. Vanderbilt gives the ball to either quarterback Chris Nickson or tailback Jared Hawkins and lets them run. That means Auburn's defense will deploy its defensive backs closer to the line of scrimmage to provide run support. Nickson has a strong arm. Mechanics are a problem for him, though, which compromises his accuracy on deep throws. Blitzes don't work particularly well against Vanderbilt because Nickson can escape. He's running most of the time, too.

He works cheap, too.

Now that's just plain funny.

Thanks, "Raye"

Bonus video, 10/3

Here is the weekly argument between me and Josh Moon about the Auburn game.

Big up to Brad Harper for the graphical ecstasy that is a video GameDay report.


ps: I'll post the AU/Vandy FULL BREAKDOWN by 8:40 a.m.


All we have now are the embers

Seemed like it went well. Lots of HOTTIES ... including most of the ROF.

If you have suggestions on when our second campfire should be held, let's hear it.


Things We haven't discussed

Hey everyone. Yea, I know you love ripping Tony Franklin. He'd boo Tony Franklin if he wasn't Tony Franklin. At the same time, the whole thing is getting a little tired this late in the week.

So let's examine a few topics that haven't (to this point) earned enough run:
  • Josh Bynes is a really good player. Cash money says he'd start almost anywhere else in the league, but he's behind the LBOH and his nasty streak. Bynes does everything at least pretty well. He administrates and handles pass responsbilities with aplomb.

  • Jason Bosley is fighting through more pain than anyone. We all know his shoulder is hurting. That's why he's not at center anymore. What you may not know is that his back hasn't been all that cooperative, either. It's hard to play tackle effectively when the upper half of your body hurts all the time.

  • I like and respect ESPN's Chris Low, but I disagree with his assertion that Vanderbilt will beat Auburn this weekend. The Commodores are last among SEC schools in both yards gained and yards allowed.

    Check this:


    1. LSU 426 261 +166 4-0
    2. UGA 425 286 +139 4-1
    3. KEN 352 227 +125 4-0
    t4. ALA 377 256 +121 5-0
    t4. USC 342 221 +121 3-2
    6. FLA 359 241 +118 3-1
    t7. AUB 329 246 +83 4-1
    t7. TEN 341 258 +83 1-3
    9. MIS 386 328 +58 3-2
    10. ARK 350 357 -7 2-2
    11. MSU 311 332 -21 1-4
    12. VAN 283 364 -81 4-0

    See anything out of place there in the W-L column?

  • Former tight end Robert Johnson is back in school. He's participating in the athletic department's "Operation: Follow Through" program that assists players in RoJo's position. Former basketball player Derrick Bird worked his way through last year. Those guys, and everyone else who has taken advantage of that opportunity, deserve a lot of credit.

  • Where is James Swinton? He's on the team and all. It's just that I don't see him on Saturdays. You don't see him on Saturdays. I really have no idea why he's still not making even a minor impact. He should be useful by now.

  • Tommy Trott's catch in double coverage last week. The Montgomery tight end bailed out his quarterback with that one. Trott fought to keep that situation from becoming an interception, then caught the ball while falling down. Really nice play.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

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

Video report, 10/2

I'm a little late here, but The Latest Video Has Arrived.

Hey, I was getting The Campfire set up yesterday!


Radio appearance (now concluded)

I'm scheduled to appear live on radio in Jackson, Miss., this morning. It's at 8:25ish.

The station has a remarkably straightforward method for streaming, so you can listen that way. Their stream works well for me via iTunes.

The segment is called "Hatin' with Jay G.," so I'm not sure how much Auburn material will be discussed. If you're parched, you know, The Campfire is this afternoon.

Feedback, thoughts, etc.

So we ran a 90-minute test of the HABOTN Campfire this evening.

It was great to see many of the HOTTIES representin'. Preliminary evidence suggests things unfolded according to plan. Nobody was subjected to annoying registrations or pop-up ads, which is very good.

What did you all think?

Polling the HOTTIES

As a service to you, the HOTTIES, I'm proposing a weekly community-wide chat. We'd do this during football season and selected other times when conditions merit.

I would hold the chat right here with a widget/java program that would NOT require any kind of registration or goobly-gook like that.

a.) Would you be interested in that?

b.) If you are interested, when is the most convenient time for you?

To consider: Wednesdays and Thursdays tend to be a little slower around here, though new information is flowing more freely on Sundays and Mondays.

Chattin' it up, 10/1

Hey everyone. Sorry for the late start today. I didn't get home from Auburn until really late and I've been arguing with LG about my broken TV for a while. It's now in the hands of a local repair shop, which said they "may be able to" get this situation handled by November.

November. Yes.

It's going to be a tough few months. Maybe I'll test drive a TV from BestBuy ... and sell the repaired unit later to recoup a big chunk of the cost. Ideas?

For the record, I love my LG TV and I'm assuming my little problem isn't indicitave of LG as a whole.

On to Auburn affairs...

  • I still don't have the real scoop on what happened with CeCe Sims last night. It was pretty terrifying to walk up to the police station and see an assistant coach crying her eyes out. I was worried that we were involved with a really sad situation. The APD since has closed the investigation. No criminal activity was associated with Sims' (brief) disappearance. That's a wrap.

  • I'm sure The HOTTIES already are aware, but I penned a little something on Joshua Bynes for Wednesday's editions. I decided to get away from the offensive issues for a brief moment and focus on one of the reasons Auburn's defense has been so nasty of late. I'll get back to Tony Franklin tomorrow.

  • One funny item of interest: Tuberville was talking yesterday about attending Lee-Scott Academy's JV game the other night. Tucker Tuberville is the quarterback. The elder Tuberville said he sat in the stands and booed the refs all night. He was joking. Or was he? I gotta get out there one of these nights to see it all unfold.

  • I'm planning to build another video today. I have several stories due this afternoon for our weekend "GameDay" edition, so I'll give you a more solid schedule update when it becomes available.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

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

CeCe Sims update

UPDATE @ 8:50 p.m.: Sims has been found. She is alive. I was at the police station along with Nell and her assistants. They were very emotional, but it looks like this situation wasn't as bad as it could have been.

The Auburn Police Department spent much of the day searching for Sims after she missed class and a scheduled workout.

FINAL UPDATE @ 11:25 a.m.: I don't have much else to add. I talked with the assistant police chief, who was pretty mum on details. He said APD's investigation is ongoing and, therefore, he didn't want to share much information. He told me CeCe is "healthy" and "safe".

Video report, 9/30

Here is a little something from The Head Coach and Ryan Pugh. The general theme, as you might guess, is offense.

We also get Act II of The Blogger Files.

p.s.: I'm going to write about Josh Bynes for tomorrow's editions. I'm sick of writing about offense.


Tuberville speaks, 9/30

The Head Coach has finished his weekly meeting with the press. There were some interesting nuggets being relayed. Accurate nuggets? I'll let you decide.
  • On his role with the offense: "Every week, I play some role. I give my 2 cents worth. With you, (Tony Franklin) is pretty blunt. He gives you the coaches' perspective. I'm a little more political. Sometimes, you can't handle the truth."

  • On which offense Auburn is running: "We don't run Tony Franklin's Spread Offense. We run Auburn's offense. You can't put a square peg in a round hole. Why would you do that? I'm here to win games. I’m
    not here to win friends and run for public office. I like (the spread). I think it's good. It's certainly helped us in recruiting. It's been tremendous."

  • On Tray Blackmon, who has a right wrist fracture: "He's going to have a club on his hand for a while. It's just unfortunate. He'll just have to play with it."

  • On Blackmon's backup, Joshua Bynes: "He took command of the defense. He was a little apprehensive at simes -- that's just from not playing. He played with a lot of enthusiasm; he had a lot of fun."

  • On why Bynes and Blackmon can't play concurrently: "Moving (Blackmon) to a new position ... It would be detrimental to Tray."

    (**Note: Though the question provided no inference about which player would be forced to change positions, Tuberville concluded immediately that Blackmon would be the one moving in that scenario.)

  • On the "War Eagle Formation" that features Wario Fannin: "You can't do a whole lot with it. If we add something to it, we probably dump something we had in last week. I like it. It gives you a couple of options."

  • On the situation at placekicker: "Wesley will be our kicker. The big thing is fundamentals. He just lost his technique. You have to go back to Square One. We've been doing that."

  • On Vanderbilt: "They're not going to do anything fancy in terms of making mistakes."

  • On recruiting Vandy quarterback Chris Nickson, a 2004 Pike County High graduate: "We weren't in this type of offense. We knew about him. We looked at him. We didn't need that type of quarterback atr that time. We knew he was competitive."

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

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

Women's basketball player missing

I'm working on this story right now. I'll pass along any additional information I receive.


The parents of Auburn basketball player Sierra "CeCe" Sims have requested the public's assistance in locating Ms. Sims, who was reported missing today. If anyone knows of Ms. Sims' whereabouts, please contact the City of Auburn Police Department at 334-501-3100. The university is working with the police department to help locate Ms. Sims.

Any information would be appreciated.

Getting things started, 9/30

Hey everyone. I guess we can get started with my story that appears in Tuesday's editions and, for reasons that are beyond me, ran on the front page of the newspaper. Tommy Tuberville was in Montgomery and Nick Saban was not.

MAIN STORY: Auburn coaches talking offense

HEEDING THE CALL: I'm now bestowing an Official HABOTN shout-out to Patrick W. for taking the time to splice me a clip of Verne Lundquist's comments from Saturday. Nice work. As Phred also revealed, Lundquist said: "Jay Tate, a writer from the Montgomery Advertiser, said he's the `Master of Mea Culpa.'"

SCHEDULE UPDATE: Players are available for interviews beginning around 10:30 a.m. with Tuberville to follow at 1 o'clock. I'll be providing a Tuberville summary around 1:40 and a video around 2:30 with a few blogs to follow. So stay tuned during what could be an eventful Tuesday. The print and internet reporters on Sunday quizzed Tuberville about Tony Franklin's comments; now it's time for another round of questioning.

NOTES: My daily notebook was tacked on the end of Tim Gayle's reportage from Tuscaloosa. You probably don't care to read what happened in Tuscaloosa yesterday or any day, so I'm reproducing the Auburn information below:

  • Catch and release: Offensive lineman Chaz Ramsey has been granted a release from his Auburn scholarship, though his allegiance to the school hasn't yet faded.

    Ramsey hasn't participated in football-related activities since March, when he aggravated a back injury during spring drills. Months of rehabilitation haven't yielded significant physical gains.

    Though the sophomore is attending classes at Auburn this semester, Ramsey's father, Key, requested a release in August.

    ``He's trying to figure out what he wants to do," coach Tommy Tuberville said. ``I've talked with Chaz and his family about their options. He's with us and we want him to stay with us. He asked for the release just so he'd have that option available."

    If Ramsey's injury is deemed a career-ending development, he'll be permitted to complete his education at Auburn on scholarship.

  • Everyday people: Tony Franklin isn't thrilled with his offensive options.

    Coach Tommy Tuberville says they're good enough.

    The team's offensive coordinator has been outspoken in recent days about how he believes Auburn's attack is compromised by personnel issues. He has trimmed away a majority of playbook material and said Sunday that the Tigers can't operate at the fast pace he requires.

    ``I think we've got the personnel. We don't have the experience," Tuberville said. ``There's so many more opportunities for mistakes in this offense. Instead of just turning around and handing off, each player is asked to make a contribution on each play. We've got guys that can run this offense and make it work."

  • Toughing it out: Safety Zac Etheridge suffered a serious shoulder bruise during the Tigers' loss to LSU.

    He missed practice time last week. Missing a game, though, is a much different situation. Etheridge participated in 48 of the Tigers' 57 defensive plays against Tennessee.

    The Troy native finished with six tackles.

    ``It's a big game, so I just pushed myself to go," said Etheridge, a 2006 graduate of Charles Henderson High. ``I knew I had to step up and be there for the team. So I just pushed myself and fought through the pain."

    Trainers added an extra layer of padding to the left side of his shoulder pads. He also had his arm wrapped to help curb discomfort.

    ``It was hurting pretty bad out there," he said.

  • Deaf to criticism: Offensive tackle Lee Ziemba doesn't have much of an opinion about the boos that have become more frequent at Auburn home games this season.

    ``I don't even hear that," Ziemba said. ``It's irrelevant to what we're doing -- especially with my job. I have one job and that's the block the guy in front of me. Nothing else matters for me."

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

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

Tuberville video, 9/29

Big up to Brad Harper for shooting this video and cutting it up for worldwide ingestion.


Appeal to the DVR crowd

Several people have mentioned here that one of the CBS announcers, which we believe to be Verne Lundquist, made a direct reference to the HABOTN during the AU/UT broadcast Saturday.

Can someone get me a quote of what exactly was said?

Chaz Ramsey update

OK. Here's the situation on OG Chaz Ramsey:
  • He has been granted a release. He is free to transfer.

  • Tommy Tuberville and Key Ramsey, Chaz's father, discussed the situation several times during the summer. At some point several weeks ago, Ramsey's release was made official. That is, he had/has the option of walking away from his Auburn scholarship and seeking a spot somewhere else.

  • Ramsey is in school at Auburn right now.

  • If Ramsey can't play again -- meaning his back injury is serious enough to end his career -- he can complete his Auburn education with his scholarship in tact. Ramsey wouldn't count against the team's 85-scholarship cap.

  • If Ramsey can play again, he has two options:

    • He can resume his career at Auburn


    • He can transfer. In doing so, he would forfeit his Auburn scholarship. His new school likely would require him to pass a physical first. If he failed that physical, Ramsey could be in no-man's land: No team and no scholarship.

UPDATE: Here is my brief-but-official story I posted to the Advertiser's site.

First Post of the Day, 9/29

Hey everyone. It's been a record-setting period for the HABOTN. We've already established new highs in unique visitors and pageviews ... and we have 90 minutes remaining in the noon-to-noon counting cycle.

To the new HOTTIES: Welcome.

To the vets: It's a group honor.

To patdyeswildturkey:
Outstanding post yesterday

To the Ring of Fire: (Phred, Scottie, crudup, Hoopie, Ron Mexico, hip-hop, AUnMobile, Sully, Scott from Tucson, scottatl, jhag and, of course, "anonymous") ... Check's in the mail.

SCHEDULE UPDATE: Arkansas @ Auburn (Oct. 11) will begin at 4 p.m. CDT and will be televised on pay-per-view.

CATCHING UP FROM LAST NIGHT: You all raised some good questions/points in comments that appeared after I left Auburn last night. Let's get to it.

  • Some asked ``How bad can it get?": Auburn is 4-1. Auburn is ranked No. 14. The offense is averaging 329 yards per game, which is approximately what it was accomplishing last season. So, yes, it could get a whole lot worse. I don't think that will happen. I expect a gradual up-tick in production that plateaus at 340 per game. That's not a resume-building number for Tony Franklin or anything ...

  • Why doesn't Auburn use Wario Fannin like Darren McFadden: Because Wario isn't McFadden. He doesn't have that elite home-run ability. He's also younger (and probably 1,000 snaps less experienced) than McFadden was when Arkansas was running those direct-snap plays.

  • Bynes vs. Blackmon: Someone asked if Bynes' big performance against Tennessee means he'll play in front of Tray Blackmon on a permanent basis. Nope. Blackmon is going to be compromised for a while with that right wrist fracture. When No. 10 is back, he'll play a whole lot. He's a remarkably violent player on the field. Opponents don't like playing against players like that. He's very annoying. Bynes is a sniper; you don't even know he's there until he makes a play. Blackmon is a hurricane.

  • "Why do people even quote CTT?": He is the head coach, that's why. Is he accurate on everything? Not even close. Yet he provides a great feel for what "The Coaching Staff" thinks about things. I don't think Kodi Burns' promotion was "mutual," but I believe Burns will play a bigger role against Vanderbilt. I guess you just have to learn Tuberville's area of expertise and listen more carefully when he's discussing those matters.

  • Discord among the coaching staff: They want to get better. They're frustrated (obviously) by what has been going down. By using the I formation and the direct-snap stuff against Tennessee, I'd say they're examining all available options. They're working together.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

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

Coleman nabs SEC honor

AUBURN – Antonio Coleman has been named the Southeastern Conference’s Defensive Lineman of the Week, the conference office announced Monday.

Read the (slightly longer) story here.

Tomorrow's notebook today

Since we don't have space in Monday's editions to run Auburn and Alabama notebooks, we have relegated them to "online only" status.

As such, I think the HOTTIES should get first crack.


AUBURN -- With Tray Blackmon out with a wrist fracture, sophomore Josh Bynes became the de facto defensive leader against Tennessee.

He didn't disappoint.

The middle linebacker finished with a team-high 11 tackles and all but eliminated the communication problems that beset the Tigers' defense against LSU a week earlier. Bynes was named the team's Defensive Player of the Week.

``He was taking on blocks like he would take on a sled in practice," defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads said. ``He was ripping through blocks like we do a string-out drill in Tuesday's teamwork stuff. He was carrying over the drills to the field and his play reflected that."

Kicker wanted: Coach Tommy Tuberville said Sunday that he'll be examining all options for field-goal duties this week.

Sophomore Wes Byrum missed a 35-yard kick against Tennessee last weekend and now has missed each of his last three attempts. Tuberville, who is notoriously fickle with kickers, said he'll be changing how Byrum and fellow kicker Morgan Hull prepare this week.

``We'll have a competition," he said. ``We've got to put more pressure on (Byrum). We might need to do more live rush, go against scout team, do some things, get some people in front of him. Do a little running if he doesn't make it. Get the whole team involved."

New sensation: Auburn flashed some innovation last weekend by using wideout Mario Fannin at quarterback.

He was allocated three direct-snap plays. He gained 12 yards.

Tuberville said he's planning to make that set -- dubbed "War Eagle Formation" -- a recurring element of the Tigers' attack.

``That's going to give us an opportunity to change the pace of a game. It gives you a lot of options," the coach said. ``It gives you a fresh guy running downhill in the game. He's a lot like Kodi (Burns), but he's a little stronger than Kodi. I'd rather have (Fannin) in there running the ball -- just for injury purposes."

Tuberville said Fannin will play tailback next season.

--Jay G. Tate

Video report, 9/28


Today's MCP* update

It's Sunday. It's 6 o'clock. Practice has ended. Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin again has admitted his failures, shortcomings and struggles before a live studio audience.

I like him personally. I think this offense is going to become league average one of these days. One day, perhaps a year from now, it could be above average.

With that said, attending Franklin's Sunday interview sessions is The Best Thing I Hear All Week. He was on his game Saturday (calling himself a "dumbass" after the game), but Franklin actually took things to a new level Sunday.

  • Franklin says Chris Todd was "perfect" on 27 of 28 plays prior to Kodi being subbed in. So why did Burns replace Todd during the first half: "Because that was what the head coach wanted to do. He wanted to bring him in. We had only scored seven points – we had scored seven and the defense had scored seven."

  • On the fans booing: "Well, they should. Hell, if I was them, I'd boo. I'd boo me. I'd be angry. Everybody's expectations were high. My expectations were high. Hell, if I was a paying fan I'd be pissed. This product has not been good, and it was my product. I don't blame them for being upset. I don't take it personal. When they said how wonderful you were, I didn't take that personal because I knew it wasn't true. I said all along that I wasn't very smart and y'all thought I was joking. Now you know. It's pretty true."

  • On why Kodi isn't the No. 1 guy: "It's one of those things that in practice he does it and in games he doesn't. Flip the lights on, you've got to do what you do in practice. He's been pretty good. He's gotten a lot better. He had gotten so much better in the spring, and in the summer he got better. It's just when the lights have flipped on, he's gone through one progression and taken off and run. I think he gets caught up in the enthusiasm and the hoo-rah and everybody is `Kodi, Kodi, Kodi,' and the adrenaline takes over. You can't let it happen."

  • On why the team doesn't play at a faster tempo: "We’ve never played at the tempo. We don’t understand tempo, yet. We think we do, but we don’t have a clue. We’re not playing as fast. We don’t understand what it means to play fast. We think we do, but we don’t. We still struggle with the snap count. So, it’s challenging to play at the tempo when you struggle with the snap count. We only have one (tempo), so it shouldn’t be that difficult to learn. But we struggle with it for some reason."

*MCP = Mea Culpa Project

Todd remains the starter

Might as well get your anger out now. Tuberville just said that Chris Todd will start against Vanderbilt, though he showed support for Kodi Burns.

Here we go:
  • On the quarterback situation: ``Chris will be our starter. I thought Kodi did good. He played 25 snaps and made some mistakes. He came in and gave us an opportunity to get the fans all excited. He did make some athletic plays. The more he plays the better he's going to get. We need to get him in there. But you've got to have a starting quarterback and a backup. I'm proud of him. That third-and-5 play was huge. He looked like he'd been out there forever and made that play. That's just a step closer for him growing up."

  • Elaborating on Kodi's mistakes: "Sometimes he just gets too excited. that's typical. He hasn't been out there in a game like that. That's his first real big game of the year."

  • On fans booing Saturday night: "It's a growing-up process. I hope they were booing me and not the players. They handle it. They understand it. We talk about it all the time about the priorities and responsibilities of being quarterback. You get a lot of credit; you get lot of blame. You have to take both with a grain of salt."

  • On Wario Fannin's future: "I think he'll be moving back to tailback. We were just trying to get him through his shoulder and get him hit so many times per game and get him stronger."

Auburn gets another "GameDay" game

I thought you all were kidding.

You weren't. ESPN "GameDay" headed for the Auburn @ Vanderbilt game.

Vanderbilt's official announcement

A classic post gets the business

Congrats to patdyeswildturkey for this opus, which deserves its own blog post.

I wanted to comment on the game between Auburn vs. Tennessee game. First off as I have watched all these games in person I am beginning to believe I need a refund for my costs of tickets. If any of you watched the game you realized that if the Mississippi State game gave you stomach ulcers then watching the Tennessee game was like passing a kidney stone. Here are a few points.

1. All Blue – I don’t know if any of you noticed but because Tennessee wears neon orange, Auburn decided to send out a memo late Thursday that we (every person attending) had to wear blue. Now lets not even get to the fact that the memo went out to like 3 people a day before the game. But I think in today’s world its getting kind of ridiculous that the school tells you how you should dress for the game. I foresee a day when we all get a memo to wear various Indian, cop and construction uniforms so the whole stadium can do the YMCA during commercial breaks. You laugh, but tell me you haven’t obeyed the previous memos and worn orange when the school told you to. Having already received the memo from the school and my wife, I decided to rebel and I stuck with my original orange shirt. I guess I didn’t want to spend $40 on a blue shirt for one game all because of a memo. I think it all peaked for me when standing at the urinal an unknown man asked me if I got the memo; he was referring to my shirt. I politely asked him did he get the memo about asking me questions while standing at the urinal. So get ready for the next home game and be on the lookout for directions on what to wear.

2. Lee Ziemba – Bless his heart if he doesn’t average a penalty a game its just not right. The kid went from All-SEC Freshman to the albatross around the offensive lines neck. He has killed more drives than anyone on the team. If there was a category for most killed drives he would be front and center. I have heard the linemen are not in sync, well there not the backstreet boys either, let me tell you. There have been all kinds of excuses, we miss Chaz Ramsey and the linemen aren’t used to the spread. Whatever it is it needs to be fixed. I say from now on just ask Lee Ziemba to let us know when he feels like getting us a penalty so we can all be prepared.

3. Spencer Pybus – This is a kid you should all root for. He is a freshman linebacker from Dothan, Alabama. The kid had no scholarship offers on signing day. Then at the last minute Auburn called him with an offer. Already he has seen significant playing time and plays a lot bigger than his size. He may be undersized but he plays with a motor, he is a modern day “Rudy”. Well except he is not as fat as Sean Aston in Rudy and he has gotten to play more than one down so far.

4. Tony Franklin – Well children might read this so I just erased a half a paragraph of curse words. What can I say, if he comes back Monday morning and says I watched the tape and we didn’t look that bad I am going to run in front of traffic. I don’t know what games he has been watching but its getting ridiculous. Every week he has to tell us how he made a stupid call. I don’t know if he is just trying to beat us to the punch or what. I haven’t cringed so much at the word spread since I last went to the proctologist. Lets be honest, we are at the 6 game mark and we have not seen any improvement. We are all tired of the clichés. Someone also please give the man a razor. He makes half a million dollars a year and somehow he looks like Tom Hanks in Castaway. I keep hearing well it took a year to get going at Troy or it worked at Troy. Hellooooooooo….this not Troy. This is the SEC, if you don’t produce you get fired, plain and simple. Tuberville knows this and this is why I know he has his hand on the wheel so to speak. Our schedule does not get any easier. Our offensive is virtually last in every statistical category. Franklin please shave and please for the love of god get a first down, that’s all I ask.

5. Defense – Again, what else can you say. They saved our asses. They should get second helpings at the dinner table, valet parking and the offense should carry their books to class. That’s the least they can do. I truly believe if we had anything that resembled an offense we would have held opposing offenses to a lot less points. No matter how good they are they cant stay on the field all day after our spread offense is off the field in less than 60 seconds. Here is a scary thought imagine next year when Antonio Coleman and Sen’Derrick Marks decide to go pro after their juniors years, whew, trouble. Of course they could decide to stay and see if the spread comes around? ……hahahaha, yea, they are gone.

6. Booing – I heard a lot of booing Saturday during the 2nd half. I know some people were booing the play calling. A caller on the radio show said players can’t separate who the boos are directed at. I agree booing isn’t an answer, but we as Auburn fans are very frustrated. If we could call the Attorney General and have Tony Franklin arrested for fraud we would. Hey, instead of booing we could send dog poo to Tony Franklins door step, let me know if you know the address. If the administration and some Harri Krishna fans don’t want people to boo then please help us turn the offense around or give us an outlet for our frustration. You can’t tell me Lowder and the boys are happy. At this point they are plotting something, maybe a voodoo high priestess, drinking goats blood, who knows, what ever helps I am all for it.

7. Ben Tate hand off – If I see another Ben Tate hand off to the outside….well…I guess I’ll do nothing, because in less than 25 seconds I will see another one and then another one and then we punt. We have a big, all-SEC back and he is running outside taking pitches and hand offs. Ben Tate has to be depressed playing in this offense. Tate doesn’t have the most alarming speed first off, but he is a great north and south runner, which he hasn’t been called to do all year. Well if I lose my sight tomorrow, I should be fine not watching the Tigers play again because I should be able to see in my head the next 100 handoffs to Ben Tate.

8. Tommy Trott – Well I will be the first one to say I was in the love triangle with Tommy Trott. I said here that Chris Todd overlooked him on every play. I think Chris Todd heard my complaint because now he passes it to Trott in triple coverage. However, lately Trott has dropped two balls that would have been first downs. He can not seem to hang out to the ball. Students I have spoken with have said Trott never drops 12 ounces, but the pigskin is a different story. Maybe we should paint the football like a beer, see what happens.

9. Wes Byrum – He is hanging with Lee Ziemba too much I assume. This kid was a freshman all-SEC kicker and this year has missed four straight field goals. What has happened to him this year. Has he been watching Scott Norwood instructional kicking videos (reference Super Bowl 25 ). I don’t know if the picture of him beating Florida last year is still in his head or what. He needs to remember people have very little patience with kickers. Its not like he cant be replaced. We replaced last years all-SEC punter with a kid who was punting balls from K-mart on the intramural fields. If I was Byrum I would get my act together and I would keep an eye on the sporting goods section at K-Mart.

10. Tuberville – The man knows how to spin. But I trust him. We have to remember that as much as I loved Pat Dye, Tubbs is a few wins shy of passing Pat Dye for all time wins at Auburn. The one thing we know about Tubbs is he handles business. He knows the offense stinks and we cant keep winning with this kind of production. I’m sure he has had many long talks with Franklin. Hell maybe he even handed him a few business cards from a moving company. I guess that’s less dramatic than a horses head in his bed. Hopefully Tuberville will turn the heat up and mix in some old school running with the new spread. Old Tubby isn’t the riverboat gambler as before. I’ve seen more gambling risks at Sunnydale retirement homes bingo night. He needs to get his mojo back and fast.

Look Ahead: This week is Vanderbilt. It’s on TV, I am not sure why, seems people would rather watch Antiques Road show re-runs than watch this match up. But this isn’t the same old Vandy. This is the first time Vanderbilt has been ranked in over 20 years. Normally their chess team is ranked higher than their football team. Hopefully our defense will keep us in the ball game. Maybe we will see Kodi Burns some more and hopefully we will run the ball for over a 100 yards this game. Either way I expect to curse way more than my grandmother would like and I will probably go through a whole bottle of Maalox.

Prediction: Auburn 21 Vanderbilt 10

Associated Press poll Out

1. Oklahoma (43) 4-0
2. Alabama (21) 5-0
3. LSU 4-0
4. Missouri (1) 4-0
5. Texas 4-0
6. Penn State 5-0
7. Texas Tech 4-0
8. Brigham Young 4-0
9. USC 2-1
10. South Florida 5-0
11. Georgia 4-1
12. Florida 3-1
13. Auburn 4-1
14. Ohio State 4-1
15. Utah 5-0
16. Kansas 3-1
17. Boise State 3-0
18. Wisconsin 3-1
19. Vanderbilt 4-0
20. Virginia Tech 4-1
21. Oklahoma State 4-0
22. Fresno State 3-1
23. Oregon 4-1
24. Connecticut 5-0
25. Wake Forest 3-1

USA Today/Coaches poll out

1. Oklahoma (57)
2. LSU (1)
3. Missouri
4. Alabama (2)
5. Texas (1)
6. Penn State
7. BYU
8. Texas Tech
9. Southern Cal
10. (tie) South Florida
10. (tie) Georgia
12. Ohio State
13. Florida
14. Auburn
15. Utah
16. Kansas
17. Wisconsin
18. Boise State
19. Vanderbilt
20. Oregon
21. Fresno State
22. Oklahoma State
23. Connecticut
24. Virginia Tech
25. Wake Forest

An interesting message

I received this in the ol HABOTN inbox around midnight.

It was a good missive. I think I'll share. I'm going to withhold this guy's name because he didn't beg for publication or anything. We'll just call him "TB".
As an Auburn fan I sit here at 11:30 CST and I am trying to figure out what is happening.

I finished watching the last 8 minutes of the ball game again and I am convinced something is going on that we just aren’t aware of or are being told. When CBS would show the Auburn side lines it was obvious that when Burns or Todd were not on the field they were not engaged in the happenings of the game. That is concerning. Having had to miss the last two home games due to illness I have not had the opportunity to watch what is going on the sidelines. But there does not appear to be any type of communication going on between our starting QBs. That tells me there are problems.

Additionally we have been spoon fed all summer long that there was not that much difference between the two QBs, but when the game is on the line and they pull Todd for Burns what is the play call? Three running plays!! It is only when Auburn's back is up against the wall that they allow Burns to throw the ball and he throws the strike to get the first down. This does not take into consideration the play Burns made prior to half time.

So I ask, what is it with Franklin? Just think about it. In game two Burns get a cut on his leg 7 stitches. OK that’s bad, but we saw Cox take the field playing on one leg, & you are going to tell me that stitches gets Burns benched? I don’t buy it. I also don’t buy this taking responsibility stuff. Don’t get me wrong. I like it when a coach takes responsibility but we are now are the point of ridicules. So what is Auburn going to do?

I am sure that Todd will start next week and we will hear from Franklin that Todd didn’t do enough bad stuff to get benched. But, Todd is not the leader of this team I just believe that he has been accepted by his team mates. By the same token I am not sure Burns is either.

After watching Alabama tonight totally destroy Georgia I feel sure we will be facing an Alabama team that could very well be 9 -1 or 10 -0. I also feel that if they are 10 -0 we will be facing the number one team in the country. Please explain to me how an Auburn program that has totally dominated its rival over the last 6 years is now taking second fiddle to them in less than 2 years. At 53 years old I have lived thru the dark ages of Alabama dominance. I will find it very hard to stomach if that’s where we are headed there again.

I think there are serious storm clouds on the plains and it could get alot worse before it gets better.

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